Floods can leave behind an aftermath of destruction and devastation, creating numerous risks and hazards even after the water recedes. Once the immediate danger of flooding has dispersed, the next challenge presents itself in clean-up and recovery efforts. Here are 6 different ways to manage hazards and risks after floods.
Electricity can cause serious or life-threatening injuries to people and damage property if it is exposed to water. In the case of flooding, or any water exposure to electricity, do not under any circumstance engage in your own electrical work. You must enlist the help of a licenced electrician to fix and test any sources of electricity that have been damaged to ensure that they can be safely used again. If your property has been water damaged, do not turn on the electricity or gas until your property’s wiring has been checked by a licenced electrician and gasfitter.
After flooding, you may notice mould growth in certain areas of your home or workplace. Mould can cause serious health risks for you and your employees. It is important to try and clean up and dry out the affected areas as quickly as possible. If you have a large area of exposure, consider employing cleaners to assist you.
If you plan on cleaning up the mould yourself, ensure proper ventilation and wear the following protective clothing:
- Rubber gloves
- Eye protection
- Shower cap
- Suitable footwear
- P1 or P2 face mask
During the clean-up process, asbestos-containing materials may be found. If asbestos has been damaged, small fibres from the material may be released into the air and are harmful if inhaled. To ensure you and your employees are safe, consider contracting a licenced asbestos removalist.
4. Sanitation and Hygiene
When you are in the stages of cleaning up after a flood, it is important to maintain a high level of personal hygiene. Make sure you:
- Clean your hands thoroughly when dealing with contaminated objects and flood water
- Wear the correct PPE
- Cover and clean any open cuts or wounds
The devastation that flooding can cause may create psychological stresses that impact the safety of those affected. To help minimise mental health risks in those affected you should:
- Have regular breaks and designated rest areas
- Provide information on crisis support and assistance services
- Have open discussions
6. Hazardous Materials
In the aftermath of flooding, objects and materials can be moved, dislodged and damaged creating a hazardous environment to operate in. It is imperative that in the cleanup of hazardous materials, it is handled and disposed of safely. This includes:
- Labelling and marking hazardous materials
- Not interacting with substances and objects that are unknown
- Wearing the correct PPE
If you or your employees are currently experiencing flooding, read our FREE Flood Water Vehicle Safety guide and stay safe.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
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