While thousands of people are still without power and cleanup efforts have become more difficult for those in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it is still highly important for workers and volunteers alike to put their own safety above all else.
Conditions are still really serious with a lot of hazards facing cleanup crews and visiting volunteers. With sewage backups being a big concern, many workers are facing potential illnesses after coming in contact with biohazard materials left over especially in flooded areas. The creeks and rivers that overflowed during the storm conditions likely are contaminated with sewage and other toxic chemicals. After flood waters went back down, the remaining puddles of water still contain the contaminants which can prove hazardous to unsuspecting workers.
Touching contaminated debris can transmit a number of illnesses among workers. It is essential for all workers, volunteers, and residents wear the appropriate protective equipment including gloves and masks when handling wet debris. Toxins which are inhaled can cause a number of respiratory problems that can be long-term. It is advisable to wait for professionals to handle sewage remains for the safety of all concerned. Cleaning up such contaminants isn’t good enough in most cases. The hazardous debris will need to be disposed of properly for safety.
Another concern for workers and residents alike is the use of heavy equipment and powered tools during cleanup efforts. Many trees fell as the result of the high winds and there are dangers in cutting up the wood and removing it with heavy equipment. In the chaos of clean, it can be easy for workers and volunteers to be run over by equipment if it is not being operated by a trained professional. Chainsaws and other electrical equipment can also prove hazardous if used by unskilled people.