OSHA provides on-site compliance assistance
OSHA provides free assistance to protect recovery workers, public during tornado recovery efforts in Illinois
By Scott Allen
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 www.osha.gov/dts/weather/tornado.
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.
About the Author
Scott Allen is with the U.S. Department of Labor's Region 5 Office of Public Affairs.