If you’re on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. and reading this, you’ve probably made it safely through Hurricane Irene. Now comes the cleanup, which can be just as dangerous as the storm. Don’t be a victim.
Before you attack a fallen tree or limbs with a chainsaw, or climb a ladder to start repair or reconstruction, think about the personal protective equipmennt and clothing you may need:
- Safety goggles, safety glasses with sideshields or faceshields;
- Earplugs or muffs when using power equipment;
- Heavy-duty, non-slip gloves;
- Safety shoes or boots;
- Trim-fitting clothes, with long-sleeve shirt and pants;
- Hardhat if there is a chance of being struck from above; and
- High-visibility reflective vest or other apparel.
Regardless of what PPE you buy and use, make sure it’s up to the task. The best way to do that is to look for evidence that it meets performance standards. Safety glasses, goggles and faceshields should meet ANSI/ISEA Z87.1. Hardhats should show compliance with ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 on the label. High-visibility apparel should meet ANSI/ISEA 107. For optimal hearing protection, earplugs or muffs should have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of at least 22dB.
Here are other tips to reduce the risk of injury:
- Before you begin to clean up, analyze your surroundings. If there are downed power lines, you must call in professional utility workers. Do not go near such lines until you have verified that the power is off.
- Make sure the area in which you are working is free of bystanders and animals.
- If there are other people nearby, make sure they are protected against hazards like flying or falling objects, dust or noise.
- When chain sawing, be sure that the chain does not touch foreign materials such as rocks, fences or nails. Such objects can be thrown off, cause the saw to kick back, or damage the saw chain. And remember that the person standing next to you needs the same hearing protection as you do.
- Have a first aid kit handy to treat cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries.
There’s more information available from OSHA, post-hurricane flood response guidance from NIOSH, rebuilding advice from FEMA, and everything you ever wanted to know about hurricanes - and more – at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center site. Go to ISEA’s Buyers Guide to find suppliers of the PPE you need. And be careful.