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Officials encourage recovery workers to stay safe during hurricane cleanup efforts

August 31, 2011

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Washington – Following the devastation Hurricane Irene left in its wake from the Carolinas to New England, cleanup crews are being urged to stay safe.

OSHA warned recovery workers about a variety of hazards they could face, including heat stress, downed electrical wires or other electrical hazards, fall and struck-by hazards, confined spaces, burns, cuts, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Recovery work should not put you in the recovery room,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA regional administrator for Region 1, which encompasses Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. “OSHA wants to make certain that no casualties result from cleanup operations.”

The agency recommended implementing protective measures such as hazard evaluations, task-specific hazard exposure monitoring, engineering controls and proper hygiene procedures.

The Arlington, VA-based International Safety Equipment Association stressed the use of personal protective equipment during cleanup efforts. “People working to clear debris in a hurricane’s aftermath, especially when they’re using power tools, need to be aware of steps they can take to reduce the chance of being injured,” ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp said in a press release. Depending on the situation, the organization recommends wearing PPE such as safety goggles, earplugs, hard hats and high-visibility apparel.

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