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Post storm season clean-up efforts

The sunshine state has been hit with some wild weather recently, and it’s important we take precautions in all clean-up efforts – at homes and workplaces.

Checking electrical equipment

It is important to pay particular attention to electrical risks and exposure when approaching natural disaster clean-up.

  • If your solar PV system has been damaged, get a licensed electrician to inspect it, make any repairs and check it's electrically safe before it is re-commissioned. This needs to be done before any clean-up commences.
  • Using water damaged equipment can cause electric shocks – dispose of damaged items or have them checked by a licensed electrician.
  • Do not connect your generator to your house using a power point on a power circuit or any other connection point. This can cause dangerous 'back-feeding'.

Read more information on electrical safety after storms or flooding.

Checking for asbestos

Most building materials that contain asbestos in a domestic home are safe if they are in good condition, sealed and left alone. However, that may change if the materials are damaged.

Things to remember:

  • Using a high-pressure water sprayer on asbestos roofs is prohibited* under the WHS Act.
  • Removal, transport, and disposal of asbestos should be carried out by qualified professionals and/or with special consideration.
  • Asbestos can sometimes be found in common locations. Where materials have not been tested you should assume that it could contain asbestos and take adequate precautions before handling, removing, or disturbing it.

Read more information on safe cleanup of storm damaged materials that may contain asbestos.

Maintaining hygiene

Environmental conditions after storms and floods increase the risk for infectious diseases, but there are things you can do to prevent risk:

  • Maintain good hand hygiene. Wash your hands well after contact with mud, flood water and contaminated items and equipment.
  • Clean and cover cuts and wounds.
  • Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

See your doctor if you become wounded or sick after contact with floodwater or if you need a tetanus booster.

For more information about hygiene management and sources of disease during clean-up, head to Physical health | Community support webpage.

Safely working at heights

Falling when working at a height can cause serious injury or be fatal.

  • When using a ladder; make sure the ladder is sufficiently sturdy and only use it for the purpose it was designed for, and do not use a ladder on soggy/soft ground.
  • Install handrails where necessary, such as when working on a roof, or a platform where the fall could cause a serious injury.

Read more information about working at heights.

Being safe with chemicals

Storms and floods may have buried, moved, or damaged hazardous chemical containers including corrosives, oils, pesticides, and industrial chemicals.

  • Identify chemicals and their hazards using labels and markings. If water has removed the label, seek expert advice and chemical identification from a waste management consultant.
  • If a container may cause potential risk, isolate the immediate area and call '000'. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service is equipped and trained to deal with these situations.
  • Wear personal protective equipment.
  • Isolate chemicals from general waste.

Local councils, other organisations or employers involved in coordinating cleanup or recovery activities should assess the potential for hazardous conditions or exposure before attempting any activity in an affected area.

Based on your initial assessment of hazards, you may need to provide workers or volunteers with appropriate information, training, supervision, or equipment to safely perform cleanup and recovery work.

Read more information on how to prepare and clean-up during and after natural disasters.

*In a workplace setting, WHS Regulations prohibit the use of high-pressure water on asbestos or ACM. In a non-workplace setting, Regulation 9 (1) (a) of the Public Health Regulation 2018 prohibits the use of high-pressure water to clean ACM.