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Region 2 News Release: 11-1260-NEW/BOS 2011-297
Aug. 24, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA and Puerto Rico OSHA agencies urge recovery
workers and public to guard against hazards during Hurricane Irene cleanup

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – As residents of Puerto Rico recover from damage inflicted by Hurricane Irene, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Puerto Rico's Occupational Safety and Health Administration urge workers and members of the public engaged in hurricane cleanup activities to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the steps they should take to protect themselves.

"Recovery work should not put you in the hospital," said Jos A. Carpena, federal OSHA's Puerto Rico area director. "Hurricane recovery work involves a wide range of safety and health hazards, which can be minimized by knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. Federal OSHA and Puerto Rico OSHA want to make certain that no casualties result from cleanup operations."

Cleanup work can involve restoring electricity, communications, water and sewer services; demolition activities; removal of floodwater from structures; entry into flooded areas; cleaning up debris; tree trimming; structural, roadway, bridge, and dam and levee repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities.

Inherent hazards may include illness from exposure to contaminated water or food, exposure to the elements and heat stress, downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, fall and "struck-by" hazards from tree trimming or working at heights, being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces, burns, lacerations, musc