Following the devastating storms that hit Florida recently, emergency crews and workers who are involved in cleanup and recovery operations will be exposed to numerous hazards that could be life-threatening. While the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance system will cover those who suffer injuries at this time, workers can take some precautions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warned crews of the common dangers during flood recovery operations.

OSHA says safe work practices, knowledge and personal protective equipment can minimize risks. Other requirements include adequate training, experience and proper equipment to deal with structural damage, power loss, storm debris and fallen trees. Essential personal protective equipment includes hard hats, gloves, safety goggles or glasses, foot protection and hearing protection.

All areas must be evaluated to identify hazards before proceeding with cleaning up activities. Mitigating measures can then be taken instead of having to deal with unanticipated risks. The stability of all walkways and structures must be assessed, and those who have to work on elevated levels must be equipped with fall protection. Workers must assume that all electrical wires are live, and extra care must be taken with the use of ladders and equipment such as portable generators, chainsaws and other power tools.

Florida workers who suffered injuries during the cleanup procedures may be entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits. They can simplify the complicated claims process by seeking the support and guidance of an attorney who is experienced in helping injured workers to cope with the financial consequences. Benefits typically cover medical expenses and lost wages.