OSHA provides on-site assistance for cleanup and recovery workers
and the public following tornadoes in Nebraska, storms in Iowa
OMAHA, Neb. – As residents recover from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms in Pilger, Neb., Sioux City, Iowa, and other areas of Nebraska and western Iowa, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges recovery workers, employers and the public to exercise caution during cleanup and recovery efforts.
OSHA will provide compliance assistance at disaster sites to workers and the public to let them know about the hazards they may encounter, as well as the steps they should take to stay safe and healthy.
"Our main concern is the safety of the workers and volunteers conducting cleanup activities. OSHA staff will be on the ground in storm areas to provide compliance assistance," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "Workers are exposed to a wide array of hazards during storm recovery efforts that can be minimized by knowledge, safe work practices and the use of personal protective equipment."
Hazards involved in cleanup work may include: illness from exposure to contaminated water or food; downed electrical wires; carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical shock from portable generators; and fall and struck-by dangers from tree-trimming or working at heights. Additionally, people can be caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces; suffer burns, lacerations or musculoskeletal injuries; and face exposure to dangerous materials and being struck by traffic or heavy equipment. Heat illness can also occur, and OSHA reminds workers that rest, water and shade are keys to prevention.
OSHA also reminds employers that they are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with response and recovery operations. Fact sheets, quick cards and other educational materials on safe work practices and personal protective equipment are available on the agency's Tornado Preparedness and Response Web page.
Individuals participating in recovery efforts may call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0171 to reach local representatives who can provide on-site assistance. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy 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. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).