DES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- As Americans return to work in New York City and Washington, D.C. following the horrific attacks of September 11 which has taken an estimated 5,000 lives, -- friends, families, co-workers, fellow countrymen -- the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is offering the following disaster safety checklist for businesses reopening in the wake of this catastrophe. ASSE and its more than 30,000 members recognize that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and that the first step of any such initiative is a hazard evaluation and assessment performed by a safety professional, but this checklist may provide guidance for preparing a safe working environment in the aftermath of such a disaster.
The following disaster checklist and action items provides key safety information that businesses reopening in the wake of the September 11 attack may want to consider:
1. STRUCTURAL SECURITY: Have the structural integrity of the building or
facility validated by qualified professionals before anyone enters the
2. SAFE ENTRY: Contact the proper government agencies to get approval to
resume occupancy of the building. Do not enter a facility or building
unless the proper clearances have been attained.
3. CLEAN-UP SAFETY: Implement your clean-up and business resumption
processes in a safe and healthful manner. You will accomplish nothing
if your employees are injured or killed during the phase-in period.
Provide training in proper selection and use of Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) for your employees and yourself such as eyewear,
gloves, and dust masks/respirators during cleaning, and where
appropriate in other operations.
4. AIR QUALITY ASSESSMENT: Make sure the atmosphere in the workplace
environment is tested for asbestos and other chemical/toxic agents.
The issue of air quality is one a business may wish to pay careful
attention to when restarting business operations.
5. VENTILATION: Have vents checked to assure that water heaters and gas
furnaces are clear and operable. Dust and debris can stop or impede
airflow decreasing its quality and healthfulness. Safely start-up
heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which
includes prior inspection of lines before energizing and pressurizing
of the systems. Remember that the heating season is almost ready to
begin. If you have done so previously, test your systems now after
inspection and do not wait for cold weather or have a qualified
specialist do so. It is a good idea to blow cold air through HVAC
systems at first, as opposed to warm weather, as it will help prevent
the growth of mold in duct systems.
6. INTERIOR, EXTERIOR EXPOSURES: For interior spaces, ensure no wall or
ceiling materials are in danger of falling. If such exposures do
exist, the work environment is not ready for occupancy. Check for
cracked windows and outside building materials, as these could fall
onto pedestrians at any time -- now and in the future.
7. PROTECTION EQUIPMENT: For fire and smoke alarms it is important to
assure that these have been cleaned and tested before allowing
occupancy of the building. If such systems are wired into other
systems ensure that they are still compatible and work in an efficient
and effective manner. Thorough inspection of fire-fighting systems
such as sprinkler and chemical equipment functions is a must do item.
8. ELECTRICAL SAFETY: Have checks made of electrical systems, computer
cables and telecommunications' equipment to ensure that they are still
safe and there is no danger of exposure to electricity. Wiring
inspections should be conducted from the outside in to ensure all
wiring and connections are not in danger of shorting out due to water
damage from rain or fire-fighting efforts.
9. USE EXISTING FEDERAL GUIDELINES: Utilize existing start-up guidance
materials provided by government agencies such as the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
10. HEALTH/SANITATION ISSUES: The general facility sanitation systems with
the facility should be inspected and tested to guard against potential
employee exposure to toxic agents. Food sanitation should also be an
issue. Any unused foodstuffs should be discarded. If the workspace
has a kitchen, inspect oven hoods and other ventilation devices to
ensure they are not clogged and are working efficiently.
11. OFFICE FURNITURE: Inspect the furniture to ensure it can withstand
expected loads and usages. Ensure that binder bins (storage devices
screwed or bolted to railing systems on walls and panels) have not
become unstable due to water damage or shaking due to explosions.
Inspect office equipment to ensure it is level, stable, and cannot tip
12. LIGHTING: Make sure there are adequate illumination levels for
employees. Emergency lighting should be checked to ensure it operates
and functions in the correct manner.
13. EMERGENCY PLANNING: Ensure that there is a clear path of egress for
the emergency evacuation of employees, that the fire extinguishers are
still operable and that checks for damage and serviceability are made
to see if any fire extinguishers' facilities were used during the
disaster. If damage is found, they should be replaced immediately.
14. SOLID/HAZARDOUS WASTE REMOVAL: Broken glass, debris, or other
materials with cutting edges should be safely gathered and disposed
of. Ensure that such materials can be disposed of before collection
to avoid creating even bigger hazards for both employees and the
public. Solid waste disposal will be an issue, especially if
hazardous waste is involved. Evaluate waste disposal issues prior to
beginning clean-up operations to ensure it can be properly disposed
15. POWER CHECKS: If there is no access to electricity on the site, do not
use fueled generators or heaters indoors. Ensure that there are no gas
and sewer leaks in your facility. You will need to check with your
local utilities for information regarding power, gas, water, and sewer
16. INSPECTIONS: Use qualified professionals for the inspection of
elevators, life safety systems, and associated safety systems to
ensure they are working. Do not have your employees perform functions
they are not trained to do. Select competent and credentialed
professionals for safety, health, and environmental consultation.
17. CHECK MAINFRAMES: If your facility has mainframe computer applications
-- see that lines and cabling for chiller systems to ensure chemicals
are checked to avoid leak out.
18. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: Create a new emergency plan and distribute it to
employees as soon as they return to work. In case of emergency,
designate a place for employees to gather once out of the building or
a phone number they should call following the emergency so that all
can be accounted for. Update the emergency contact list of names and
19. MACHINE INSPECTIONS: Inspect the condition of drain, fill, plumbing,
and hydraulic lines on processes and machines. It would be prudent to
have plumbing lines evaluated and tested in order to detect any
20. SURFACES: Make sure flooring surfaces are acceptable and free from
possible slips, trips and falls - the second leading cause of on-the-
job deaths in the U.S.
ASSE members who are occupational safety, health and environmental professionals developed this brief checklist. Since September 11, ASSE members have been working in New York in relief efforts in providing professional services on a voluntary basis and garnering and distributing needed supplies such as thousands of respirators, tyvec suits, flashlights, picks, shovels and work gloves. Additionally, in working with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ASSE is coordinating voluntary occupational safety and health assistance related to the recovery operations. For assistance call ASSE at 847-699-2929.
Founded in 1911, the non-profit ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization. Its more than 30,000 members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in industry, government, education and insurance. For more information check ASSE's web site at http://www.asse.org .
SOURCE: American Society of Safety Engineers