Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-128, 1993 Aug; :1-4
NIOSH warns about the hazards involved for those assisting in clean- up after natural disasters, specifically floods. Hazards associated with this type of work include electrical hazards, carbon-monoxide (630080) exposure, musculoskeletal hazards, thermal stresses, heavy equipment hazards, structural instability, hazardous materials, fire, drowning, confined spaces, power line hazards, agricultural hazards, stress, and fatigue. Preventive measures addressed include a knowledge of and availability of first aid, even for the most minor of cuts and burns. Personal protective equipment of importance includes hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole. Excessive noise from equipment such as chain saws, backhoes, tractors, pavement breakers, blowers, and dryers may cause ringing in the ears and subsequent hearing damage. Hazards of confined space must be understood. These include limited openings for entry or exit, unfavorable natural ventilation, or designs limiting continuous worker occupancy. Specific agricultural hazards addressed include confined spaces on farms, respiratory hazards due to wet crops, and the molding of stored hay. The risk of injury and illness can be reduced by setting priorities for clean up tasks and pacing the work over several days, resuming a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible, taking advantage of disaster relief programs and services in the community, and being alert to emotional exhaustion or strain.