In the aftermath of the recent major outbreak of wildfires in California, workers will be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. Some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.
Wildfires may create a variety of hazards for workers involved in cleanup operations as well as for workers in affected communities. The following resources address common hazards associated with wildfires and highlight useful precautions for workers:
- Electrical hazards – QuickCard™ | Spanish, Fact Sheet | Spanish
- Carbon monoxide poisoning – QuickCard™ | Spanish
- Lifting injuries – QuickCard™
- Heavy equipment – Activity Sheet
- Extreme heat – QuickCard™ | [..], Fact Sheet | Spanish
- Unstable structures – Structural Collapse Alert (NIOSH)
- Hazardous materials response – Fact Sheet
- Fire – Fact Sheet
- Confined spaces – QuickCard™ | Spanish
- Worker fatigue – Extended/Unusual Work Shifts Safety and Health Guide
- Respiratory protection – QuickCard™ | Spanish
- Rodents, snakes and insects – QuickCard™ | Spanish
- Downed electrical wires – Fact Sheet
- Working outdoors – Fact Sheet
- Slips, trips, and falls – Texas Office of Risk Management webpage
Additional resources for employers and workers involved in wildfire cleanup include:
- Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- After the Fire: Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Safe Cleanup of Fire Ash. California Department of Health Services and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH.)
It is vitally important for employers to remember that they are responsible for the safety and health of their workers, and are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with wildfire response and recovery operations.
Visit OSHA’s Wildfires webpage for additional resources on wildfire response and recovery.