Smoke Damage >> Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup

Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup FACT SHEET On This Page Electrical Hazards Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Musculoskeletal Hazards Heavy Equipment Extreme Heat and Cold Unstable Structures Hazardous Materials Fire Working in Confined Spaces Worker Fatigue Respiratory Hazards First Aid Protective Equipment Workers face hazards even after fires are Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup extinguished. 

In addition to a smoldering or new fire, dangers include: carbon monoxide poisoning musculoskeletal hazards heavy equipment extreme heat and cold unstable structures hazardous materials fire confined spaces worker fatigue respiratory hazards Workers and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup volunteers should be advised of and should follow proper safety precautions. 

Workers' and volunteers' experience levels vary, and cleanup crews must work together to ensure safety.More information can be found at the Emergency Response Resources topic page and at these links: Eye Safety Emergency Response and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup Disaster Recovery Suggested Guidance for Supervisors at Disaster Rescue Sites Fact Sheet for Workers in Secondary Response and Other Supporting Roles Electrical Hazards

The four main types of electrical injury are electric shock, burns, falls caused as a result of contact with electrical energy, and electrocution. As power returns after an outage, electrical or traumatic injuries could happen as power lines are reenergized and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup equipment is turned on. Only trained professionals, such as electricians and utility provider workers, should deal with electrical problems such as downed power lines and restoring electrical power. 

Other workers should avoid all potential electrical hazards.Downed power lines expose workers to electric shock hazards, including: electrical currents that flow through the ground and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup extend several feet (ground gradient) contact with downed power lines that are still energized overhead power lines that fall onto and energize materials on the fire ground smoke that becomes charged and conducts electrical current water on or near energized power lines or equipment

If you are working on or near power lines, the following steps may save your life: Never handle a downed power line. Assume all power lines are energized and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup call the power provider to de-energize the line(s). Ground power lines on load- and supply-sides of the work area. Grounding protects from feedback electrical energy when a secondary power source, such as a portable generator, is turned on. 

When power is turned on in underground vaults, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup explosive gases may form. Refer to the Confined Spaces section of this fact sheet. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as Nomex® clothing compliant with NFPA standard 1500, rubber gloves and dielectric overshoes. Use protective tools such as insulated sticks and cable cutters. 

Click here to view the Personal Protective Equipment resource page. Do not stand or work in areas with thick smoke. Smoke obscures electrical lines and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup equipment. It also can become charged and conduct electrical currents. If water is or has been near electrical circuits or equipment: Never handle a downed power line. 

Turn off power at the main breaker or fuse of the service panel. Do not turn power back on until electrical equipment is inspected and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup qualified. Do not use electrical equipment that has been exposed to heat from fire until checked by an electrician. Unless power is off, never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet.

If you are working near a downed power line: Never handle a downed power line. Only trained professionals, such as electricians and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup utility provider workers, should deal with electrical problems such as downed power lines and restoring electrical power. Other workers should avoid all potential electrical hazards. 

Contact utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines. Use extreme caution when equipment is moved near overhead power lines. For example, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup contact between metal ladders and overhead power lines causes serious and often fatal injuries.If you are using gasoline and diesel generators for a building, switch main power breaker or fuse to "off" prior to starting generator. 

Turning power off protects utility line workers from electrocution and prevents damage from "feedback" electrical energy.For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Web page.Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Gasoline- or diesel-powered pumps, generators and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup pressure washers may be used during cleanup. 

These machines give off carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless and Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup odorless gas.Never operate gasoline-powered equipment indoors. It is nearly impossible to tell whether there is enough ventilation or if carbon monoxide is in the air.For more information about carbon monoxide and gas-powered engines, visit the Carbon Monoxide Hazards from Small Gasoline Powered Engines Web page.

Musculoskeletal Hazards Cleanup workers are at risk for developing stress, strain, and potential injuries to hands, back, knees and shoulders. Avoid back injuries when lifting or moving objects by hand. Use teams of two or more to move bulky objects. Do not lift material weighing 50 pounds or Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup more (per person). Use automated lifting devices for heavier objects.

For more information, visit the Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders topic page.Heavy Equipment Only properly trained people should operate heavy equipment such as bulldozers, back hoes and tractors. When using heavy equipment, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup turn power off and block the equipment against motion. Use caution around power lines.

For more information, visit: Highway Work Zones Motor Vehicles Extreme Heat and Cold Heat Employers and cleanup workers should be aware of workers' risk for heat stroke, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup heat exhaustion, heat cramps and fainting. To avoid heat stress, workers should: Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes and at least one gallon each day.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They both dehydrate the body. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Work during cooler hours of the day when possible, or Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup distribute the workload evenly throughout the day. When indoors without air conditioning, open windows if outdoor air quality permits and use fans. Take frequent cool showers or baths. 

If you feel dizzy, weak, or overheated, go to a cool place. Sit or lie down, drink water, and wash your face with cool water. If you don't feel better soon, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup get medical help quickly.Heat stroke is the most serious heat illness. It happens when the body can't control its own temperature and its temperature rises rapidly. Sweating fails and the body cannot cool down. 

Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency care is not given.Warning signs of heat stroke vary but can include: Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating) Rapid, Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup strong pulse Throbbing headache Dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)

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