NEW YORK -- As part of its ongoing effort to educate workers and employers about hazards associated with cleanup work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a new fact sheet highlighting the hazards and necessary safeguards to protect workers who may encounter mold during cleanup activities.
'Workers will be exposed to mold during hurricane response and cleanup activities. Remediation of mold-contaminated building materials and surfaces can and must be done safely, so that no worker is sickened or injured while performing this vital work,' said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. 'Critical to this is employers knowing the hazards of mold, developing an effective mediation plan, the use of effective controls, work practices and personal protective equipment, and training employees to recognize and protect themselves against mold.'
The fact sheet provides background on mold and why it is hazardous, the elements of a mold cleanup plan and the use of appropriate engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment to protect workers during mold remediation. It is written in clear language for both employers and workers and provides links to additional sources of information.
The fact sheet 'Mold Hazards during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup' is available online at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-FS-3619.pdf.
'The fact sheet is a tool for employers and workers, but it does not replace the employer's responsibility to ensure that workers are equipped with the knowledge and safeguards to protect themselves against mold and other work-related hazards,' said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's deputy regional administrator in New York. 'We have teams on the ground working with employers to ensure that workers are trained to recognize and avoid hazards. We will not hesitate to take action if employers refuse to do so.'
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, OSHA has been conducting daily briefings, safety and health field interventions and other outreach activities to identify and remove employees from hazards and to provide Sandy cleanup workers and employers with safety and health information. To date, OSHA has conducted more than 3,500 briefings and interventions, reaching almost 51,000 workers and employers performing recovery work in Sandy-impacted areas.
Additional guidance, fact sheets and other information can be found on OSHA's Hurricane Sandy web page, located at www.osha.gov/sandy/. OSHA's mold page, which includes links to a fungi fact sheet and mold quick card, can be located at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/molds/index.html. To access a mold remediation activity sheet, click on http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hurricane/mold.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.