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OSHA Seeks PPE for Sandy Cleanup Work

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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Federal regulators have asked the largest safety groups in the United States for donations of Personal Protective Equipment to aid crews and individuals who are working on Hurricane Sandy cleanup.

Dr. David Michaels, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, made a personal appeal Friday (Nov. 16) to the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Safety Council, and the American Industrial Hygiene Association, an OSHA spokesperson confirmed.

What’s Needed

In response, ASSE is asking companies and organizations if they can donate the following safety equipment:

  • Safety vests;
  • Gloves (cloth; rubber, chemical resistant; and leather, to handle tree branches);
  • Hard hats;
  • Ear plugs;
  • Knee pads, waterproof coveralls and cut-resistant chaps;
  • Fire extinguishers;
  • Goggles without vent holes;
  • Electrically insulated watertight boots with steel shank, toe and insole;
  • Disposable N 95 respirators, but not elastomer respirators; and
  • Bags to contain all of the above.

NSC and AIHA have been publicizing general hurricane needs on their websites.

Dangerous Duties

MTA subway after Sandy
Photos: MTA

Cleanup after Sandy has been exceedingly dangerous. New York's subways were among the areas flooded. Property damage estimates have topped $50 billion, and more than 157 people perished.

The death toll from Sandy has topped 157, including at least 88 people in the United States. The victims included two little boys, ages 2 and 4, who were swept from their mother’s arms in Staten Island, NY, when the three were trapped by a storm surge. Damage estimates have topped $50 billion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved $29 million in quick release emergency relief funds.

Cleanup after Sandy has been a dangerous endeavor, OSHA notes. Cleanup work can involve restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services; demolition activities; removal of floodwater from structures; entry into flooded areas; cleaning up debris; tree trimming; structural, roadway, bridge, dam and levee repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities.

Hazards may include downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, fall and "struck-by" hazards from tree trimming or working at heights, being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces, burns, lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, being struck by traffic or heavy equipment, and drowning from being caught in moving water or while removing water from flooded structures.

Keeping Safe

OSHA offers detailed information about keeping workers safe during Hurricane Sandy recovery and cleanup at The site offers fact sheets, concise "quick cards," frequently asked questions, safety and health guides, and additional information in English and Spanish.

Flood waters lapped the at New York MTA's Harmon Yard.


Protective measures include evaluating the work area for all hazards; assuming all power lines are live; using the right personal protective equipment (hard hats, shoes, reflective vests, safety glasses); conducting exposure monitoring where there are chemical hazards; following safe tree cutting procedures to prevent trees from falling on workers; and using fall protection and proper ladder safety when working at heights.

How to Donate

Contact OSHA’s Cathie M. Mannion, assistant regional administrator for technical support, at or 347-996-2041 for specific donation information and delivery locations.

OSHA notes that shipping to the individual organizations directly will speed the distribution to the workers.

ASSE member companies are asked to let ASSE know of their efforts by contacting or to ensure that the efforts are coordinated.

To donate funds to go toward purchasing PPE for the Hurricane Sandy clean-up, visit the ASSE Foundation site.  After designating the donation amount, click Other and write in “Sandy PPE Fund.” One hundred percent of those donations will go to the Hurricane Sandy PPE effort.

For additional information on grants, cleanup efforts and recovery resources, visit the Labor Department's Hurricane Recovery Assistance Web page.

Also, a checklist of activities to be undertaken before, during and after a hurricane is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at



Tagged categories: Accidents; ASSE; Health and safety; Industrial Hygienists; OSHA; Personal protective equipment; Respirators

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