In the wake of Hurricane Michael, which battered the Florida panhandle and moved through Georgia and the Carolinas bringing devastating destruction earlier this month, authorities are warning of increased hazards as the clean up gets going.
The hurricane has claimed at least 30 lives, with more missing, and left hundreds of thousands of Americans without power and water. And with residents across the affected states wanting to return home and begin rebuilding, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging caution.
Residents need to be aware of and avoid hazards created by flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris in the aftermath of the monster storm, which was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the US.
OSHA also wants to make sure the people carrying out repairs are qualified and aware of the increased danger of the conditions.
“Employers and employees must be aware and trained to deal with the hazards involved in storm cleanup,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer said of the damage left behind by Hurricane Michael.
“The risk of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities can be minimized with knowledge, safe work practices, and appropriate personal protective equipment.”
Only individuals with proper training and equipment should conduct heavy recovery and cleanup activities, the agency warned.
Residents returning home should wait for the all clear to do so from authorities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
Michael is the seventh hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year.
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