January 23, 2020

New Earthquake Hazard Alert Focuses on Emergency Response Workers

A new hazard alert (PDF) published by OSHA stresses the importance of protecting rescue workers and emergency responders after an earthquake. According to the agency, these workers may face hazards such as downed wires, toxic materials, fires, collapsed and unstable structures, and falling objects. OSHA urges employers to help keep emergency response workers safe by using personnel trained in rescue and cleanup operations. Other precautions highlighted in the OSHA alert include ensuring that workers wear proper protective clothing such as boots and gloves; use proper safety precautions when operating generators and power tools; and report structural, electrical, or gas leak hazards to local authorities and utility companies. Workers should not touch downed overhead lines or objects that are in contact with downed power lines.

More information on earthquake preparedness and response is available from OSHA’s website. AIHA’s resources on health and safety issues in natural disasters include a page on earthquake recovery.