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Region 5 News Release: 13-2224-CHI
Nov. 18, 2013
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone:       312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA provides on-site compliance assistance
to protect recovery workers, public during tornado recovery efforts in Illinois

Tornado Preparedness and ResponseCHICAGO – As residents recover from the damage caused by the recent storm that occurred in Washington, Coal City, Massac County and other areas of Illinois, 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 following the tornadoes that touched down this week. 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 conducting cleanup activities. OSHA staff will be on the ground in affected areas to provide compliance assistance," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "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.

OSHA reminds employers that they are responsible for providing their workers a safe and healthful workplace. 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 at http://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/tornado/index.html.

Individuals involved in recovery efforts can call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Peoria Area Office at 309-589-7033 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 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. 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 information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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