Recommendations for Occupational Health and Safety Following Disasters
Following natural disasters, such as an earthquake or typhoon, there are increased public health and environmental health risks for injury and illness. While every event differs in baseline conditions, epidemiologic disease profile, and impact on the populations, education and prevention are key to mitigating at least some of these additional risks.
Several environmental risks that can be heightened post-natural disaster include
- Increased risk of wounds, wound infections, and tetanus due to injury, lack of protection, and insufficient access to health care services.
- Increased respiratory issues or exacerbation of chronic conditions due to poor air quality and overcrowding.
- Poor management of waste, including solid waste from destroyed structures as well as health-care, industrial, and human waste, including burning, unsafe or inadequate disposal mechanisms.
- Accidental release of toxic chemicals and chemical mixtures such as industrial chemicals, pesticides and petrol from damaged plants, warehouses, workshops, petrol stations or other facilities where chemicals are used and stored.
- Asbestos exposure through damaged buildings, fittings, pipes, and other construction materials.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning if petrol-driven generators are used in enclosed spaces.