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Protecting Workers In Sandy’s Aftermath [AUDIO]

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, federal agencies are now raising awareness about worker safety hazards.

Michael Bocchieri, Getty Images

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the four leading causes of fatalities after hurricanes are falling from high elevations, being electrocuted, being hit by falling objects and being caught between objects – like heavy equipment.

“Right now we are looking for those four hazards throughout the impacted areas in New Jersey, New York and Long Island,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

So far, there have been 12 worker deaths, three from New Jersey, all of those caused by falling trees.

Kulick said there also other concerns for workers as the clean up from Sandy continues.

“Workers will be exposed to mold during hurricane response and cleanup activities. Remediation of mold-contaminated building materials and surfaces can and must be done safely, so that no worker is sickened or injured while performing this vital work. Critical to this is employers knowing the hazards of mold, developing an effective mediation plan, the use of effective controls, work practices and personal protective equipment, and training employees to recognize and protect themselves against mold.”

He says they are enforcing regulations and in some cases, issuing citations to contractors who fail to protect their employees.

“We are intervening, we are removing employees from risk and we are issuing citations and penalties to employers who are not responsible and not doing what needs to be done to protect their workers.”

The fact sheet “Mold Hazards during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup” is available online.

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