Aftermath of Katrina Returning to a Workplace Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Guidance for the safe entry, safe clean up procedures, appropriate PPE for all recovery workers, and a hazard assessment for the most critical items or operations that can cause acute or chronic health effects or disease.

Recovery work in disaster areas such as those hit by Hurricane Katrina can pose a lot of problems. The workers here have to be aware of various possible dangers that range from live wires o tripping over the debris to stray animals biting them. Carefully evaluating the possible dangers can help us control and prevent them

Guidance for the safe entry

My first step would be to evaluate the work site in order to identify whether any of the following hazards are present: electrocution, material that we may fall over or planks or fallen glass, for instance, that are dislodged; I would check the noise rate; whether there are cut / laceration hazards (such as fallen glass); the temperature level (any blazing fires); and any drug seepage or hazardous or infectious material that is lying loose in the environment.

To make up my list, I would consider the range of contaminants that would normally be present in the hospital environment and those that may have been released by the Hurricane.

Before entering, I would brief the team about our procedures and obtain useful information about the regular location of equipment and the material that they regularly use

Hazard assessment for the most critical items or operations that can cause acute or chronic health effects or disease

Given that this is a hospital environment, chemical containments may readily be present, so we will screen for them by using direct reading instruments (for instance noise meters, combustible gas indicators, and oxygen meters) as well as by collecting and analyzing samples. I, or an assistant, will later thoroughly record our operations and instruments used as well as evaluation of our results. I will also procure contact information of the team members so that if samples, or results, are later indicated to have traces of contaminants, I will contact each of the individuals involved and notify all who work in the hospital of results and of any follow-up medical surveillance that may be needed.

Before entering, we will also establish an evacuation route and a communication system whereby we can alert our team in case an evacuation becomes a necessity. Our first aid supplies will also be checked before entering to ensure that we have all necessary equipment.

Safe clean up procedures

The work is best done according to the following priority:

1. Eliminate - Our first priority should be on eliminating all dangerous and unnecessary substances as well as cleaning up the debris and, generally, getting the place back to optimum order and security. Fallen electrical power lines should be repaired or removed before allowing other work to proceed. In other words, the most dangerous elements should be dealt with first and removed before proceeding

2. Engineering controls -- Sometimes, there may be elements that may be too heavy to move or out of my and my team's ability to deal with. We will need professional help that we lack at the moment. Barriers should, then, be placed around these elements…

Sources Used in Document:

Source

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) General Recommendations for Working in All Impacted Areas

http://www.georgiadisaster.info/MentalHealth/MH22%20Self-Care/General%20Recommendations.pdf

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