Safety and OSHA News

It’s tornado season: Are your workers prepared?

It’s usually video of the aftermath that shows the destructive power of tornadoes. However, the recent outbreak of twisters near Dallas provided a picture of the havoc during the storms: video of tractor trailers being picked up and dropped like toys. Click through for a link to the video and advice for safe tornado response.

Tractor trailers weighing 30,000 pounds or more were picked up and dropped like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

The National Weather Service counted at least 19 tornadoes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the outbreak. The amazing part: No deaths were reported.

That is a testament to better preparedness for the twisters over the years.

Some parts of the country are right in the middle of tornado season now, while for others it’s still to come this year. Peak season is between March and May in the South, May to early June in the Southern Plains, spring in the Gulf Coast, and June to July in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

As a reminder for your workers while on the job and at home, here are some tornado safety pointers from the National Weather Service:

  • When a tornado is approaching and you’re in an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper, go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building, away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter. Stay off of elevators; you could become trapped if there is a sudden power outage.
  • Being in a vehicle is extremely risky in a tornado (as the above video shows). If the tornado is visible but far away, seek shelter in any sturdy building you can get to. If you’re caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly as possible out of traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, and cover your head with your hands. If you can get to a place that is noticeably lower than the level of the road, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head. Sheltering under bridges offers little protection against flying debris.
  • Employees working outdoors should seek shelter inside. If that’s not possible, they should lie flat, face-down on low ground, protecting the back of their heads with their arms and any other covering they have. They should get as far away from trees and vehicles as possible as they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

The dangers associated with tornadoes aren’t limited to the time when the storm hits. Clean-up work brings its own hazards, including downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, and fall and struck-by hazards from tree trimming. Training materials on safe work during tornado recovery is available from OSHA here.

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  1. We take the tornado issue very seriously here in Oklahoma. We train our employees each and every year with this video

    Take the time to train your workers right, enforce that training, then reinforce it. You will have fewer injuries!

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