During the relief efforts following superstorm Sandy, workers are feeling the push to restore power, bring in provisions, and clear out dangerous debris so residents can return to some normalcy. Unfortunately in the chaos that ensues after a massive tragedy, tempers run short and safety concerns for rescue workers are greater.


In the recent news story, a utility worker from New Jersey was electrically shocked while repairing a pole in the aftermath of Sandy. He was electrocuted with a high voltage line and actually lost his heartbeat until fellow workers rushed in to save him.


Unfortunately because the push for the restoration is so great and many people have been displaced from their homes, tempers are flaring and people are demanding faster service. Workers already scrambling to fix problems are often rushed at the risk of safety.


Employers need to remain consistent in reminding and enforcing safety regulations on job sites in order to ensure worker safety. Speeding up jobs just to get to completion will be at the risk of worker’s lives and employers need to monitor issues during such chaotic times. In addition to the enforcement of safety rules, there need to be proper inspection of safety gear and an assurance that proper gear will be available as needed. With so many additional workers being brought to worksites to assist, it is important that all workers are accommodated for safety reasons.


Workers who are feeling the pressure to rush along a job at the risk of safety by their own employers have the right to refuse to do work they fear will put them at risk of injury. Employees are not obligated to put their lives in jeopardy in violation of safety regulations and cannot be disciplined for doing so.