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May 27, 2011
NIOSH Update:

Tornado Response: Safety Recommendations, Resources Posted by NIOSH on New Web Page

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

Recommendations and resources are available from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on a new web page to help state and local response personnel, health care workers, shelter workers, and other personnel stay safe during tornado response and cleanup. The new resource is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/tornado.html.

Emergency-response directors and supervisors should be aware of the potential work-related dangers involved in the aftermath of a tornado, and should establish and enforce proper safety programs, NIOSH recommends. Injuries and illnesses in the line of duty are preventable. Workers and volunteers involved with tornado cleanup should be aware of the potential dangers involved, and of the proper safety and health precautions.

"As we were reminded this week by the devastation in Missouri, Oklahoma, and other states, tornados and other natural disasters take a horrific human toll," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "Communities depend on clean-up crews, healthcare workers, and those who work or volunteer in emergency shelters to aid in recovery from such destruction. It is important to emphasize that those duties often involve potential hazards, and that strategic safety and health measures are vital for protecting workers and volunteers in the course of tornado response."

Work-related hazards that could be encountered in tornado clean-up and recovery include electrical hazards, carbon monoxide exposures, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, motor vehicle and large machinery incidents, hazardous materials, fire, confined spaces and falls, NIOSH noted.

Also, the Institute said, people working or volunteering in evacuation centers, shelters, clinics, or hospitals may face challenges related to potentially crowded conditions, long working hours, and urgent demands for care and assistance. Those challenges include risks of fatigue, stress, and illness.

The new web page includes resources for planning and carrying out safe recovery work, including fact sheets on hazards, recommendations for preventing injuries and illnesses, and survey forms for on-site use in identifying risk factors and documenting that proper safety measures have been taken.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. It was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information on NIOSH can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh.

 
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