Floods are relatively common in the United States, and their destructive power is well-documented throughout history. Hurricane Harvey, the Los Angeles Flood, and the Pacific Tsunami of 1946 resulted in severe floods and hundreds of fatalities. Shockingly, despite the death toll and widespread displacement caused by these floods, they were relatively tame compared to some of the most iconic United States floods, including those produced by Hurricane Katrina (1,833 fatalities) and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (approximately 8,000 fatalities).
This destruction can be even more pervasive without proper preparedness and response protocols in place to mitigate damage. This is especially true on project sites, which are extremely vulnerable to flooding. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has instituted a flood preparedness and response program. In this two-part series, an OSHA defense lawyer will discuss everything contractors need to know about floods to prevent catastrophes on their project sites and surrounding areas.
Where Do Floods Come From?
Floods can be catalyzed by any number of factors, including heavy rains, rising rivers, tidal surges, ice jams, and dam failures. In Florida, hurricanes often lead to storm surges and severe flooding. By the time a flood has become a threat, it’s too late to prepare, so it’s important that contractors stay on top of flood advisory warnings, track hurricanes and tropical storms, and understand flood vulnerabilities and zoning information to protect their project sites against floods. If you aren’t sure where to start, an OSHA defense lawyer can survey your site and provide suggestions for avoiding an OSHA citation.
Employer Responsibilities and Workers’ Rights
As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your workers are safe and healthy when working on the project site. Addressing anticipated hazards like floods is important for preparing your workers. They should be familiar with flood response and recovery operations designed to mitigate hazards and provide safe return to the project site. It is OSHA’s job to ensure that you are following their guidelines, which we will discuss in further detail in part two.
Remember, without a plan in place, all of your hard work could be washed away by a flood. Failure to prepare could lead to additional hazards for workers returning to the project site. Subjecting your workers to dangerous working conditions will put you on the fast track to an OSHA citation and a consultation with an OSHA defense attorney.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.