NCDOL dedicates field staff for Hurricane Florence cleanup efforts

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Labor has deployed occupational safety and health professionals to counties hardest hit by Hurricane Florence to assist the public and businesses during the dangerous cleanup phase. The Occupational Safety and Health Division has converted to consultative mode in those areas impacted by Hurricane Florence to help prevent injuries and illnesses that often spike during natural disasters.

“It is important that North Carolinians have access to the proper tools to assist them in conducting a safe recovery effort,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “Our hearts are with those who lost their loved ones, homes and businesses. Our job now, as safety and health professionals, is to make sure the recovery and cleanup efforts go without incidence.”

North Carolinians have faced many cleanup challenges after major storms, including Hurricanes Bertha, Fran, Floyd, Isabel, Irene, Matthew and now Florence. Assistance from the N.C. Department of Labor has been provided in 15 counties and will be extended to additional counties as flood waters subside.

“The violent winds and rainfall of these storms topple trees and destroy businesses, cars, homes, and power lines, leaving first responders, recovery workers and residents with the dangerous task of debris removal,” said Kevin Beauregard, director of the state OSH Division. “The cleanup and rescue efforts needed after a hurricane place a tremendous strain on communities, which can lead to injuries and illnesses if appropriate safety measures are not taken.”

The OSH Division will distribute various types of personal protective equipment needed after a disaster such as hard hats, hearing protection, work gloves and safety glasses. The division will also distribute safety and health educational material. In addition, there are five billboards posted across the state publicizing assistance via the agency’s toll-free number. The OSH Division will continue to address work-related complaints and referrals and fatalities in affected counties.

“Our goal is to help bring some relief to the communities affected most by Hurricane Florence,” Commissioner Berry said.

Citizens who need safety and health guidance may contact the N.C. Department of Labor’s Standards Section of the Education, Training and Technical Assistance Bureau at 919-707-7876 or call the agency toll-free number, 1-800-625-2267.