Emergency Preparedness in the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma having ravaged much of the Caribbean and the southeastern US coastline, now is a good time for employers to review their legal obligations to protect their employees before, during and after major disasters. Seyfarth Shaw LLP provided an outline of such obligations in a Lexology article on 31 August and gave the following recommendations for employers:

A flooded street in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.  Courtesy: Channel 3000

A flooded street in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.  Courtesy: Channel 3000

• Develop an EAP that covers a wide variety of potential emergencies and gives employees clear guidance on what to do in each scenario;

• Be cognizant of hazards employees may face even after the immediate danger has passed;

• Train employees in evacuation plans and other emergency response procedures;

• Conduct a job hazard analysis and review applicable OSHA standards before assigning any employees to perform clean-up work;

• Evaluate the safety record of any independent contractor hired to perform clean-up work, including investigating the contractor’s worker’s compensation history, its OSHA logs, and its history of citations from OSHA.

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