Friday, November 24 2017

23

California Wildfires

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To Our Policyholders,

As Northern California continues to recover from the recent wildfires, we want you to know EMPLOYERS® is here to help. We realize that in an unprecedented situation like this, it may require all-hands-on-deck from you and your employees to help with clean up and rebuilding efforts. While it may be necessary for your employees to pitch in and get your business operational again – regardless of whether they are helping while on the clock or after hours – there are certain precautions you should take to prevent them from getting injured or sick. 

If your business sustained extensive damage, the cleanup is usually best left to trained professionals who will make sure the work is completed safely and meets required building codes. If any of the following damage is present in your building, do not attempt cleanup without first consulting an expert.

  • Downed Power Lines. Assume all power lines are live, and make sure to stay at least 10 feet away from them. Only trained utility workers or electricians should repair damaged power sources. 
  • Debris Removal. Contaminated materials should only be removed by trained workers with proper personal protective equipment such as a hard hat, a hazmat suit, steel-toed boots and eye and face protection.

Even if the damage your business sustained is less-extensive, there are still precautions you and your employees should take. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a helpful list that details potential hazards and preventive measures that can help keep your employees safe during disaster clean up and recovery. Some of the tips they recommend include:

  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Prevent people from performing tasks they do not have the training, experience or physical ability to handle
  • Be particularly mindful of slippery, uneven or elevated surfaces that could lead to an employee getting hurt from a slip, trip or fall – the most common causes of employee injuries
  • Be careful using portable generators – and always make sure they are properly ventilated – to prevent electrical fires, shocks or electrocutions, or harm from toxic carbon monoxide exposure

In addition to OSHA resources, California also has a helpful resource page with additional information.

For guidance on workers’ compensation claims related to the Northern California wildfires, contact your agent or EMPLOYERS today.

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