OSHA issues new fact sheet on importance and necessity of providing,
using proper personal protective equipment during Sandy cleanup
NEW YORK – As part of its ongoing efforts to educate workers and employers about hazards associated with cleanup work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a new fact sheet highlighting the need for employers to provide their workers with appropriate personal protective equipment and the training to properly use that equipment.
"Workers engaged in hurricane response and cleanup activities can be exposed to a variety of hazards. No worker should be sickened or injured while performing this vital work," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "This fact sheet summarizes the various types of personal protective equipment and the work situations in which it is necessary and required to safeguard workers against injury and illness."
The fact sheet is available online at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-FS-3612.pdf.
To eliminate or minimize hazards, employers must assess each site and operation individually to determine actual or potential hazards based on site-specific conditions, implement appropriate controls to protect workers from those hazards, and train workers to recognize hazards and take necessary precautions. While engineering controls are the preferred method for addressing hazards, there are many cases in which PPE may be the only practical control method.
All personal protective equipment has limitations and is the control method of last resort. Workers using PPE must be trained to recognize these limitations as well as how to put on and remove PPE, properly store it, take care of it and know when it is time to replace it.
A basic safety ensemble for cleanup activities includes a hard hat, safety glasses, a reflective vest, gloves and steel-toed work boots. Add impervious gloves and boots for work in wet environments; appropriate respiratory protection where needed; fall protection when working over 6 feet; and hearing protection for noisy environments. Proper hygiene and sanitation are essential for minimizing the spread of contaminants and disease. Hand-washing is a critical component of good hygiene. In the absence of suitable facilities, workers should be provided with hand sanitizer.
Additional guidance, fact sheets and other resources can be found on OSHA's Hurricane Sandy Web page at http://www.osha.gov/sandy. Another source of information is the resource Web page maintained by the National Institute for Environmental Safety and Health at http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/index.cfm?id=2472.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, OSHA has been conducting daily briefings, interventions and other outreach activities to provide cleanup workers and employers with safety and health information, and identify and remove employees from hazards. To date, OSHA has conducted more than 3,000 briefings reaching approximately 45,000 workers and employers performing recovery work in Sandy-impacted areas.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.