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Disaster planning helps employers keep workplaces safe

Oklahoma is famous for severe storms, and employers have an obligation during natural disasters to maintain safe work environments. Ideally, an organization prepares a crisis management plan during good times so that everyone will understand safety protocols during bad weather or other dangerous events. Good planning could prevent endangering employees and subsequent litigation.

After a natural disaster, employers might have to cope with health and safety issues that do not apply under normal circumstances. Employers should consider carefully the decision to ask employees to clean up a mess left by a storm, flood or fire. Employees who do not have training in disaster recovery work might not know how to safely address contaminated or damaged areas. Exposing untrained workers to hazards outside of their normal work duties could cause harm. Hiring a professional disaster response company could allow an employer to avoid exposing employees to unfamiliar duties.

If an employer chooses to prepare employees to restore a workplace after a disaster, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines for handling hazardous materials and conditions. A crisis management plan can include this information so that employees have access to safe handling procedures.

A person concerned about workplace safety could reach out to an attorney for advice. An attorney could research the conditions at the workplace to see if they fail to meet health and safety regulations. The person could also gain guidance on how to alert government inspectors to unsafe conditions. If an individual proceeds with a complaint and experiences retaliation from the employer, then an attorney might recommend filing a lawsuit to protect the person from job loss, demotion or harassment. In a case in which the worker experienced an injury or illness because of workplace hazards, an attorney might pursue a personal injury claim.

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