According to Michael Courouleau, as workers rush to provide relief after a disaster, someone should be responsible for looking out for the health and wellness of recovery workers. During each disaster, Michael Courouleau notes that workers suffer injuries. For those who step up to help, it’s important they feel safe, knowing their health is a priority.
One of the greatest dangers posed to disaster recovery workers are buildings impacted by the disaster. Michael Courouleau cautions that in the case of natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes, the structure of a building can become compromised, sometimes without showing any symptoms. Before sending workers into any building after a disaster, Michael Courouleau stresses the importance of bringing in a structural engineer to check a building’s stability. Collapsed buildings can cause serious injury and even death.
Floodwaters also present a danger to workers’ health, Michael Courouleau describes. After a hurricane, floodwaters can be present for days or weeks afterward, presenting electrical hazards and dangers of exposure to mold and hazardous chemicals that might be mixed in with the water. Michael Courouleau stresses the importance of outfitting workers with proper disaster recovery gear, including covering all areas of exposed skin with safe protective gear. Safety glasses and face masks are also a must, reports Michael Courouleau, as well as gloves and protective boots.
Michael Courouleau recommends that supervisors provide proper ventilation for areas that might be dangerous, to prevent and protect against hazardous dust. Michael Courouleau also emphasizes the importance of fire suppression systems and water mist to prepare for potential fire hazards.
Combustible dust, according to Michael Courouleau, can be found in everything from flour and grain dust to dried blood. This is especially prevalent in loading areas, Michael Courouleau tells us, where materials being brought in for cleanup can stir dust. It’s important these areas are properly ventilated and contain air monitors to determine contaminate levels. These sytems, explains Michael Courouleau, keep an eye on dust levels and, when they reach a certain point, kick in mist systems or even shut down equipment to avoid further contamination.
Most importantly, Michael Courouleau believes supervisors of disaster relief projects should arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible about safety measures that can be taken. Knowledge is the most important tool a workplace supervisor can have in his or her arsenal, asserts Michael Courouleau, and for that reason he works hard to inform and educate managers on safety measures. By keeping workers safe, businesses can enjoy long-term profitability while ensuring the health and longevity of the people who work so hard to make a difference, concludes Michael Courouleau.