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Health and safety of Missouri flood workers at risk

Disaster site workers nationwide are typically exposed to many safety hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently urged Missouri workers who are cleaning up in the aftermath of floods to comply with regulations to protect their health and safety. The risks are multiple, and the agency asked the public to stay away from floodwater and prevent their children from playing there -- despite the temptation that it might hold for kids.

The many risks start at the danger of unstable and compromised banks of streams that could unexpectedly give way. Water rushing in culverts and storm drains could develop forceful currents that could even sweep away adults. Furthermore, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services warns that raw sewage in the floodwater may expose workers to infectious diseases, and the water could contain hazardous chemicals. Other dangerous objects in the rushing water could include metal objects, glass, sticks and other debris.

Workers who are involved in the clean-up actions will face risks of drowning, electrocution, chemical contamination, along with the threats of being struck by or caught in objects. OSHA reminded employers of the importance of providing adequate safety training to all employees who will be involved in these activities. Workers must be aware of potential hazards, how to avoid them and what to do if they are injured. Providing proper protective gear is also vital.

Compliance with health and safety regulations may prevent injuries. However, those workers who have to cope with injuries or illnesses in the aftermath of the mopping-up operations may file benefits claims with the Missouri workers' compensation insurance program. Some victims choose to seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to handle their benefits claims for them while they recuperate.

Source: kfvs12.com, "Don't play in the water: flood water poses health, safety risks", Alycia Dobrinick, May 3, 2017

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