Wildfires are common natural disasters that can spread very quickly. They can spread even quicker when conditions are dry. Educating workers about the risks associated with wildfires can wind up saving lives and saving businesses.
That’s why officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have designated web resources to help businesses prepare and recover from wildfires.
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers understand that preparation is one of the most important steps a company can take to help prevent disaster. One of the most important things to have is an evacuation plan. When you have one in place before a fire strikes, you can help to avoid confusion and to prevent injuries.
A good wildfire evacuation plan should include:
-Make sure everyone understands and can recognize the conditions that will put this plan into effect.
-Make sure you’ve got a chain of command.
-Be sure that each emergency function is mapped out, including who is in charge of performance.
-Include procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors.
-And you should frequently review this plan with your workers. It’s not going to work if people don’t understand (or can’t remember) it.
When a fire comes and goes, it’s time to cleanup. In the aftermath, employees may be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. Some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials as well as search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.
When cleaning up and recovering from a wild fire, workers need to be on the lookout for electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, lifting injuries, heavy equipment accidents, extreme heat, unstable structures, hazardous materials, additional fires, confined spaces, worker fatigue, respiratory problems, downed electrical wires and slip, trip and fall accidents.
These issues are very real here in the Carolinas. Remember back in March when there were about 60 wildfires that broke out in South Carolina because of the low humidity mixed with high winds? In one instance, the fire completely destroyed 100 condo units. During that time, officials with the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag Fire Weather Alert for the entire state. In some municipalities, that meant a ban on outdoor burning.
Check with your employer today if you’re not aware of a plan to address wildfires, because the truth of the matter is that you have the right to a safe workplace. You have the right under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). This was the act that was passed to help to prevent employees from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers.
If you or someone you love has suffered from a work-related injury, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
More Blog Entries:
Occupational Hearing Loss and Workers’ Compensation, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 10, 2013
Random Inspections Proven Successful in Protecting Workers, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 7, 2013