"Businesses should develop an emergency plan," OSHA says. "The plan should include details on suitable places to take shelter, policies to ensure all personnel are accounted for, and procedures for addressing any hazardous materials that are on-site."
Some businesses are required to have an emergency action plan that meets specific requirements. While these plans typically involve evacuations, the agency says "emergency planning for tornadoes should also identify safe places of refuge for workers to go to in the event of tornadoes," the agency says.
Employers should develop a system for knowing who is in the building in the event of an emergency, OSHA says. An alarm system to warn workers should be established and tested frequently.
Workers, visitors, and customers arriving in the shelter should be accounted for via a prepared roster or checklist. OSHA also suggests assigning specific duties to workers in advance, creating checklists for each specific responsibility, and designating and training alternates in case the assigned person is unavailable.
Workers cleaning up after tornadoes are exposed to a variety of risks, including:
- Illness from exposure to contaminated water or food.
- 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 and lacerations.
- Musculoskeletal injuries.
- Exposure to hazardous materials.
- Being struck by traffic or heavy equipment.
OSHA has checklists and other materials to help employers protect their employees in the event of tornadoes.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 5, 2012
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