Every year we hear news reports of communities devastated by hurricanes and tropical storms. Winds during these weather events can exceed 155 mph, and even after a storm subsides many dangers remain in its wake.
Hurricane season starts in mid-May in the Pacific and June in the Atlantic, and runs through November. During this time, hurricanes and tropical storms affect many American workplaces along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and island areas, including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Inland areas are also often affected by powerful storms that bring high winds, heavy rainfall and dangerous flooding.
With hurricane season picking up, employers and workers need to be prepared with a detailed plan before these storms make landfall to ensure that everyone stays safe.
This year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center are joining forces to promote Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 25-31. OSHA and NHC encourage employers to be aware and prepare their workers for dangerous conditions during and after hurricanes and tropical storms.
Check out OSHA’s Hurricane Preparedness and Response page for important tips and resources:
- Regardless of where workplaces exist, all employers should stay aware of weather forecasts, train workers on workplace severe weather plans. They should also keep handy emergency supplies, including a battery-operated weather radio. See the preparedness section of our hurricane page for details on planning, equipment and training.
- In the aftermath of storms, employers must also ensure that workers involved in response and recovery are protected from potential safety and health hazards. See the response section of our hurricane page for more detailed information.
OSHA also has a Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery page that shares lessons learned during the 2012 superstorm, which resulted in more than 85 deaths in the U.S.
This is the third in a series of blogs this year on severe weather preparedness. The first was on general preparedness tips and the second was on flood safety. Stay tuned for more best practices on workplace safety from OSHA and NOAA!
Mandy Edens is the director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management.