Flooding may not seem like a major safety concern for construction workers. If a work site floods, the project comes to a halt. However, flooding kills more people in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes or lighting strikes. So, it’s important to have a thorough safety plan and train construction workers to follow the protocol. The safety plan should contain evacuation plans and clear guidelines as to how to determine when it’s safe to return. Read on to learn some advice on what to consider incorporating when creating a flood safety plan.
- Train your workers to stay out of floodwater if workers return before the flooding ends. There is a potential for drowning, dangerous debris could be hidden or the water could be contaminated with dangerous levels of bacteria.
- Around half of flood-related fatalities deal with vehicles. Many vehicles will float in as little as one foot of water. Vehicles can often be swept away in as little as two feet of fast moving water. Safest advice: do not drive through flood waters.
- Floodwater can scour underdeveloped land. This scouring can create channels that result in tripping hazards, but can even undermine the ground underneath structures. Inspect areas that appear like solid ground—you’ll find it’s anything but. If damaged has been done to the ground, it needs to be repaired before work resumes.
- Receding water will likely leave a variety of debris on your work site. Some of it might have sharp edges. Have clear guidelines about debris that has collected around power poles, transformers and other electrical equipment. If debris needs to be moved, remind workers of proper lifting techniques and to work in teams.
- Do not handle electrical boxes, panels or other electrical equipment that has been exposed to water before it’s inspected by an electrician. Knocked down power lines may still carry current. And, it can be difficult to determine if floodwater contains live circuits where there is a risk of electrocution.
Safety is always a top priority in construction work. The safety of the workers is dependent upon training them how to handle different scenarios. Training workers with a clear flood evacuation plans and determining when it is safe to return are critical components to flood safety in construction.