OSHA Steps Up to Help Workers Responding to Hurricane Katrina

Saying OSHA will "offer as much assistance as is possible" to ensure the safety of the workers who will help rebuild areas of the country devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Acting OSHA Administrator Jonathan Snare outlined what his agency is doing as part of the coordinated federal response effort.

The Department of Labor specifically OSHA is part of the coordinated, Cabinet-level response to Hurricane Katrina called for by President George W. Bush. OSHA will provide support to the relief efforts as outlined in the National Response Plan.

"The human toll of this catastrophic storm will not be known for weeks," said Jonathan Snare. "In the meantime, it is incumbent upon us to offer as much assistance as possible to assure the safety of the thousands of workers who will be working around the clock during cleanup and recovery operations."

OSHA Region VI has deployed its eight-member Emergency Response Team to Baton Rouge to assess the situation and provide technical assistance to recovery workers and utility employers engaged in power restoration.

In addition, OSHA is contacting major power companies in the affected areas to provide safety briefings to employees at power restoration staging areas.

The agency is releasing public service announcements, narrated by Snare, to inform workers about hazards related to restoration and cleanup. The text of the message is: "While Hurricane Katrina has moved on, the danger has not especially for recovery and cleanup workers. This work is hazardous, and deadly. I'm Jonathan Snare, head of OSHA, and I encourage you to take proper safety and health precautions to avoid serious injuries from falls, downed electrical wires, chain saws and other machinery. For more information, please call 1-800-321-OSHA or log onto www.osha.gov."

In addition, OSHA has identified all Lowes and Home Depot stores in Louisiana and plans to distribute safety and health fact sheets and materials to them.

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