Hurricane eMatrix » Summary of Activity Sampling Data and Safety and Health Monitoring Information


This summary of hurricane recovery workers' safety and health experience is divided into three parts across individual pages:


In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, OSHA personnel, including volunteers from our State Plan and On-Site Consultation Program partners, were deployed to the impacted areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas to assist emergency responders, search and rescue personnel, power restoration crews, and other response and recovery workers entering the area to conduct initial response operations. OSHA visited staging areas and talked to them about the hazards they would likely encounter during disaster response work and the types of work practices and protective clothing to use to protect themselves. OSHA coordinated with employers to identify and visit work sites to observe response operations and to further characterize site conditions throughout the impacted region.

OSHA also coordinated with employers and Federal, State, and local officials at key interagency coordination centers in all five States. OSHA provided technical assistance on safety and health issues for the initial response workers and for workers initiating debris collection and reduction, entering damaged and/or flooded buildings, tarping damaged roofs, and conducting other critical operations. A large part of this effort involved visiting work sites, and observing operations, characterizing site conditions, identifying operations-specific hazards and exposure controls, and providing information to employers and workers.

OSHA personnel collected safety and health monitoring information and exposure data throughout the agency's response and recovery assistance efforts. This document summarizes OSHA's observations about working conditions and the safety and health of individuals involved in hurricane response and recovery activities during the specific time frames noted in the individual parts (although

This summary of hurricane recovery workers' safety and health experience is divided into two independent parts:

Part I: Summary of Safety and Health Intervention Information from OSHA Situation Reports

  • Summarizes safety and health monitoring data recorded in the Situation Reports submitted by OSHA staff in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida only.
  • Compiles information from reports submitted between August 31, 2005 to March 10, 2006.
  • Identifies the operations, hazards, and deficiencies in exposure controls that OSHA observed most frequently during this time frame.
  • Highlights worker fatalities that occurred during response and recovery operations within the entire impact area (all five States) between August 31, 2005 to March 21, 2006.

Part II: Summary of Air and Noise Sampling Results Representing Actual or Potential Exposures for Response and Recovery Workers Involved in Hurricane Response and Recovery Activities

  • Summarizes the results of worker exposure monitoring conducted throughout the Gulf Coast, but is primarily focused in Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • Summarizes the results of samples collected for noise, dust, silica, asbestos and other fibers, gases and vapors, and metals.
  • Compiles samples collected between September and mid-December 2005.
  • Indicates which hurricane response and recovery worker groups were exposed to hazardous substances and noise at the action level (typically defined as half an established exposure limit) or above OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL).

OSHA used multiple formats to record the observations and information on which this document is based. The information summarized in Part I was compiled from OSHA internal Situation Reports, which summarize OSHA personnel's daily activities, observations, and interventions. The data at this site are updated periodically as additional results become available.

Limitations and Disclaimer

The Matrix does not provide an in-depth analysis of OSHA standards and regulations and cannot address all hazards. It does not increase or diminish any OSHA requirement or employer obligation under those requirements. It is intended as a guide and quick reference for employers and response and recovery workers. The Matrix captures major activities involved in hurricane response and recovery, highlights many of the hazards associated with them, and recommends "best practices." Employers must evaluate the specific hazards associated with the job/operation at the site where the work is being performed.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work provides a general overview of particular topics related to current OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or the equivalent State Plan standards and requirements. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA/State Plan administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements. Employers should modify their procedures as appropriate when additional, relevant information becomes available.