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Flooding Recovery Recommendations

  • Content last reviewed: May 2013

Response and recovery work in flooded areas presents hazards that should be properly identified, evaluated, and controlled to reduce or eliminate occupational health and safety risks to response-and-recovery workers. Response-and-recovery workers in flooded areas encounter hazards ranging from potential contact with live electrical equipment to chemical exposures.

After a flood, it is important that homes and commercial premises be restored as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to the building and its contents. Flooding may not only damage the structure of a building, but the flood water can also contain sewage, particularly in rural areas, that may pose a serious health hazard.

We urge anyone engaged in clean-up activities to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the necessary steps they should take to protect themselves.

Inherent hazards may include illness caused by exposure to:

  • contaminated water or food
  • the elements (harsh weather)
  • conditions that could induce heat stress
  • downed electrical wires
  • carbon monoxide, and
  • electrical hazards from portable generators.

Other hazards may include:

  • falls and being struck by objects while 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.

Protective measures should involve:

  • evaluating the work area for all hazards
  • task-specific hazard exposure monitoring
  • using engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards
  • using personal protective equipment
  • assume all power lines to be energized
  • following proper hygiene procedures
  • correctly using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment, and
  • using proper precautions in traffic work zones.

Employers should seek the assistance of their safe work association if they need help in complying with the OHSA and its Regulations. For external assistance in developing occupational health and safety policies and programs, you may contact the appropriate workplace safety association at Health and Safety Ontario.

Further information: