December 2012
November 20, 2012

Short takes: Protecting cleanup workers

Source: NYSUT United

The New York City Central Labor Council, the Long Island Federation of Labor and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health have released "Caution: Hurricane Sandy cleanup can be hazardous!," a fact sheet with information on how to avoid illnesses and injuries during hurricane cleanup. Visit www.pef.org/storage/files/sandyfactsheet.pdf.

Raise awareness after a storm

Storms that produce massive flooding and power outages put people at risk from:

Carbon monoxide exposure. Without power, people are encouraged to stay somewhere else before risking a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning by using appliances such as generators or stoves indoors to heat their homes.

Infections and injuries from floodwaters. This includes possible dangers from bacteria infections, hand and eye injuries, electrical injuries and mold exposure from floodwaters. Floodwaters may contain bacteria, viruses and chemicals that could make you sick. Sharp objects could be in the water. Assume all power lines are live.

Mold. It may develop after homes have been exposed to standing water for an extended period. Getting water-damaged items dried and removed is important to prevent mold growth after a flood.

Hypothermia. Staying warm with no power can be a challenge. Close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels in window cracks and under doors and cover windows with blankets.

Contaminated drinking water. If you see or smell something odd about the water, don't drink it.

Spoiled food. Don't forget about food safety, especially if your food wasn't properly refrigerated or was exposed to floodwaters.

Exacerbation of health conditions. People often don't have access to their prescriptions, don't know how to get to their pharmacies or how to get in touch with their doctors.