If you've been hired to clean up after the recent hurricanes, it's important that you protect yourself against work-related injuries. You might not realize this, but there are a great many hazards associated with hurricane cleanup. One way to protect yourself is to familiarize yourself with the types of injuries you could sustain during the cleanup efforts. Understanding the potential dangers will allow you to be aware of your surroundings, and take additional steps to keep yourself safe. Here are four of the work-related injuries you make be exposed to during your work:
You might not realize this, but you could sustain serious back injuries while working on a cleanup crew after a hurricane. This is particularly true if you're tasked with lifting and carrying water-soaked debris. Unfortunately, once something has become water-logged, it will weigh much more than it originally did. One way to protect yourself against back injuries is to always employ the buddy system when lifting large objects. If your back is injured while you're working, be sure to notify your employer immediately.
During hurricanes, electrical wiring can come loose. Unfortunately, you might not notice the problem until it's too late, especially if the wires are submerged under water. Before you begin working in standing water, be sure the electricity has been turned off. That will help reduce the chances of severe electrical shock. If you do sustain an electrical shock during work, it's important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Electrical shock isn't the only work-related injuries associated with standing water that you'll be exposed to during the workday. You'll also be exposed to respiratory disorders. These disorders will be associated with the mold spores that will begin growing standing water, as well as the cleaning solvents, and other contaminants that will have been swept into the water you'll be working with. All of these contaminants can cause breathing problems and can exacerbate asthma and allergies. If you encounter breathing problems while on the job, stop working and seek immediate medical attention.
In addition to the danger of electrical shock, and respiratory distress, you'll also come in contact with water-borne diseases that may be present in stagnate water. After a hurricane, standing water may contain human fecal matter, and decaying animals, which can breed water-borne diseases. Not only that, but mosquitoes are attracted to stagnate water. Some water-borne diseases you may come in contact with while you're working on hurricane cleanup will include hepatitis A and cholera. If you develop signs of sickness, including fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting, after working in stagnate water, you should contact a doctor.
If you're going to be working for a company that will be cleaning up after the recent hurricanes, you need to be aware of possible work-related illnesses and injuries. If you do suffer a work-related illness or injury, seek medical assistance, and then contact a workers' compensation attorney near you.