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American Society of Safety Engineers Recommend Continued Safety Awareness in Post-Katrina Rebuilding Efforts

Posted in on Wed, Jan 18, 2006

Des Plaines, IL (January 18, 2006) —The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urge the thousands of workers involved in the post-Katrina efforts to be smart and aware of key safety and health standards aimed at preventing worker injuries and illnesses.  From general safety requirements and disaster site defensive driving to occupational health and hygiene, ASSE members are providing these insights to ensure workers’ safety and health during construction, renovation, cleanup and demolition activities.

            Companies, employees and contractors can utilize the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A10 series of construction and demolition safety standards in enhancing on-the-job safety and health at areas under construction in the Gulf Coast. These standards provide for safety tips on demolition, excavation, fall protection, scaffolding, masonry, sanitation, and much more.

Employers, employees and contractors should consider the following in post-disaster conditions:

  • General Safety Requirements: Provide training in proper selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees such as eyewear, gloves, boots and dust masks/respirators for cleaning, and where appropriate in other operations.
  • Disaster Site Defensive Driving: Utilize your seat belt at all times and drive at safe speeds based on road conditions. Be aware of other vehicles and road debris. To prevent losing control of your vehicle, don’t drive through standing water. Be alert at intersections as stop lights and street signs may not be in proper working order.
  • Health and Hygiene: Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand sanitizers as necessary, especially before treating wounds. Remember to remain hydrated and only drink from potable water sources. Do not overexpose your face or skin to sunlight and wear protective eyewear and sunscreen to limit exposure.

Injury Prevention and Response:

  • Each worksite should have individuals trained and certified in first aid care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and if available, automated external defibrillators (AED). Seek medical treatment for any cuts, open wounds or animal/snake bites. Bandaged wounds must be kept clean and dry.
  • ‘Trench foot’ can occur when workers’ feet are exposed to wet conditions for long periods of time, and can be prevented by keeping feet, shoes and socks thoroughly dry.
  • Solid Hazardous Waste Removal:Broken glass, debris, or other materials with sharp edges should be safely gathered and disposed of immediately. Solid waste disposal will be an issue, especially if hazardous waste is involved. Evaluate waste disposal issues prior to beginning cleanup operations to ensure it can be properly disposed of. ASSE’s free ‘Hazardous Materials Safety Information Guide’ has information on this and is available by contacting or visiting
  • Electrical Hazards: Avoid contact with power lines. Do not utilize electrical tools or appliances that are wet or when standing in water. If power lines fall contact the local utility company.
  • Chain Saw Safety: Follow manufacturer’s instructions for operating and maintaining the chainsaw and wear the appropriate protective equipment including gloves, hardhat, hearing protection and safety goggles. Avoid power lines especially when cutting tree branches, which could potentially fall on power lines or bystanders. Always cut at or below waist level.
  • Hearing Protection: Wear appropriate hearing protection in noisy work environments.

Safety tips to consider when entering buildings post-disaster:

  • Structural Security: Have the structural integrity of the building or facility validated by qualified professionals before anyone enters the building.
  • Emergency Planning: Ensure that there is a clear path of egress for the emergency evacuation of workers, and that the fire extinguishers are operable. If damage is found, the fire extinguishers should be replaced immediately.
  • Fire Protection: For fire and smoke alarms it is important to assure that these have been cleaned and tested before allowing occupancy of the building. Thorough inspection of fire-fighting systems such as sprinkler equipment is a must do item. Wiring inspections of buildings should be conducted from the outside in to ensure all wiring and connections are not in danger of shorting out due to water damage from rain or fire-fighting efforts.

Air Quality Assessment:

  • Make sure the atmosphere in the workplace environment is safe. It may be necessary to test for chemical/toxic agents. Contamination can include materials (chemical or biological) that could cause illnesses to employees. Avoidance of contaminants is always best, but not always possible.
  • Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for more cleanup information and tips, including air and water sampling data at

Use Existing Federal Guidelines:

  • Utilize existing start-up guidance materials provided by government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), These agencies may have additional information how to proceed in special situations, such as floods.

ASSE serves as secretariat of the over 40 A10 standards and projects which includes the A10.39 (R2005) Construction Safety and Health Audit Program; the A10.34-2001 (R2005) Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction Sites, which is the only standard to directly address public safety around construction sites; and the A10.33-1998 (R2004) Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, which provides guidelines for the basic duties of senior contractors and project supervisors in providing a safe construction workplace.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest and largest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For more information on workplace safety tips and standards visit

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