ISEA: Use the Right PPE to Stay Safe During Hurricane Cleanup Operations

Aug. 29, 2011
Taking safety precautions is necessary not only during a hurricane, but also during cleanup operations. Homeowners who are not equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment could face serious or even life-threatening injuries when clearing debris following the storm.

“Victims of natural disasters want to clean up and put the storm behind them as fast as possible,” acknowledged International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) President Daniel K. Shipp. “But people working to clear debris in a hurricane’s aftermath, especially when they’re using power tools, need to be aware of steps they can take to reduce the chance of being injured.”

Prevent injuries by wearing the right PPE for the task, including:

  • Safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields;
  • Faceshields, as needed;
  • Earplugs or muffs when using power equipment;
  • Heavy-duty, non-slip gloves;
  • Safety shoes or boots;
  • Trim-fitting clothes, including long-sleeve shirts and pants;
  • Hardhats if there is a chance of being struck from above; and
  • High-visibility reflective vests or other apparel.

Check the PPE packaging to ensure that the products meet ANSI/ISEA Z87.1. Hardhats should show ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 on the label, while high-visibility apparel should meet ANSI/ISEA 107, ISEA explained. For optimal hearing protection, earplugs or muffs should have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of at least 22dB.

ISEA also offers the following tips to reduce the risk of injury during cleanup operations:

  • Before you begin to clean up, analyze your surroundings. If there are downed power lines anywhere in the vicinity, you must contact professional utility workers. Do not go near downed power lines until you have verified that the power is off.
  • Make sure the area is free of bystanders and animals.
  • If other people are nearby, ensure they are protected against hazards such as flying or falling objects, dust or noise.
  • When using a chainsaw, 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. Ensure that anyone standing near the chainsaw operator has adequate hearing protection, as well.
  • Have a first aid kit handy to treat cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries.

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