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After the Storm: Worker Health and Safety During Storm Disaster Cleanup

After the Storm: Worker Health and Safety During Storm Disaster Cleanup

After the Storm: Worker Health and Safety During Storm Disaster Cleanup

Joseph ''Chip'' Hughes, Jr.,MPH, NIEHS. Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, MCN. Juliana Simmons, MSPH, CHES, M
Joseph ''Chip'' Hughes, Jr.,MPH, NIEHS. Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, MCN. Juliana Simmons, MSPH, CHES, M
on behalf of Migrant Clinicians Network

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Launch date: 16 Nov 2017
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Last updated: 23 Aug 2018

Reference: 185279

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As families return to their homes in Houston as floodwaters from superstorm Harvey recede, it is a race against time. A suffocating smell already fills the living rooms, puddles remain in hallways, and spots of mold multiply quickly. Within days, the soppy lawns of neighborhoods are dump sites as workers begin gutting homes, pulling out molding drywall, damaged floors and ceilings, and wrecked furniture. In the process, these workers and many residents are exposed to mold, water contaminated with chemicals and waste, hazardous building materials, and vermin. Additional risks include working around unstable structures and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators operating in poorly ventilated spaces. Exposure to asbestos, silica and lead are also common for these workers.

Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Irma: the names of the storms denote which communities ended up under water, but many of the stories of cleanup -- and the hazards involved -- are the same. With resilience and determination, communities will try to rebuild, but the rebuilding necessitates an immediate workforce ready for strenuous and dangerous jobs. Post-disaster recovery, cleanup, and reconstruction operations present numerous risks and dangers to workers. Many do this work without proper safety equipment or training on hazard mitigation.

In post superstorm recovery, what are the vulnerabilities workers face and what does this mean for worker safety and worker health? As clinicians and community health workers caring for this worker population, what are the key points we need to understand to care for those involved in clean up efforts and what can we do to help educate them to prevent injuries and illnesses? This webinar brings together experience from previous natural disasters and offers resources that will help guide you. We will offer case studies to illustrate the hazards `and review ways that workers can protect themselves, including understanding their rights and responsibilities.


On completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
1. Identify the most critical and common hazards encountered by workers and residents engaged in post-disaster demolition and reconstruction.

2. Articulate the best strategies to educate workers and others about how to prevent injuries and illness during the clean-up following hurricanes and superstorms.

3. List at least three resources they can use to guide workers and residents during post-disaster demolition and reconstruction.
Joseph ''Chip'' Hughes, Jr.,MPH, NIEHS. Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, MCN. Juliana Simmons, MSPH, CHES, M

Author Information Play Video Bio

Joseph ''Chip'' Hughes, Jr.,MPH, NIEHS. Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, MCN. Juliana Simmons, MSPH, CHES, M
on behalf of Migrant Clinicians Network

Luis Vazquez, MPH -
Luis Vazquez is a member of the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) Center Educational Staff, and since February, 2014, has facilitated the education of workers on occupational health and safety hazards faced by those workers on the job. As the Education Coordinator for the ICWUC Training Center in Cincinnati, OH, Luis works with all Educational Staff, worker-trainers, and union leadership, develops, revises and edits curricula, and serves as an educational resource for the consortium of unions and community groups represented by ICWUC.

Luis also serves as the ICWUC liaison to Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), recruiting LCLAA and NCOSH members to attend ICWUC training programs, and helping to develop better Spanish language training capacities. Before working with ICWUC, Luis worked for 22 years with the United Auto Workers (UAW) Health & Safety Department in Detroit Michigan, as a Project Industrial Hygienist and Project Coordinator, specializing in Hazardous Materials training. After Hurricane Sandy, Luis spent months providing training to Americorps volunteers and others on safely responding to and recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Joseph T. Hughes Jr., MPH -
Mr. Hughes is currently director of an innovative federal safety and health training program based at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The program supports cooperative agreements to develop and deliver model safety and health training programs for workers involved in hazardous substances response with numerous universities, unions, community colleges and other non-profit organizations throughout the nation. For the past twenty years, Mr. Hughes has worked in both the private and public sectors in developing environmental and occupational health education programs for workers and citizens in high-risk occupations and communities. As a part of this work, he has pioneered efforts to create new methods and approaches for conducting needs assessments, reaching underserved populations, developing training partnerships and creating innovative program evaluation and assessment measures.

Mr. Hughes was given the DHHS Secretary’s Award for Exceptional Service in November 2001 for his role in responding to the World Trade Center attacks. After the NIEHS response to the Katrina disaster, Mr. Hughes was given the DHHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service in June 2006 and the NIH Director’s Award in 2011 for responding to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In November, 2011, Mr. Hughes was given the Tony Mazzocchi Award for lifetime achievement by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH).

Under Mr. Hughes’ leadership, NIEHS grant support of $40 million is annually committed for the development and administration of model worker health and safety training programs consisting of classroom, hands-on, on-line, computer-based and practical health and safety training of workers and their supervisors, who are engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and emergency response.

Amy K Liebman, MA, MPA -
Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA has devoted her career to improving the safety and health of disenfranchised populations. Since 1999, she has served as Director of Environmental and Occupational Health at Migrant Clinicians Network, where she has established nationally recognized initiatives to improve the health and safety of immigrant workers and their families. She oversees programs ranging from integrating occupational and environmental medicine into primary care to designing worker safety interventions.

She is a national leader in addressing occupational and environmental health through the community health worker (CHW) model and is currently testing the CHW model with immigrant dairy workers. Prior to her current position, she directed numerous environmental health and justice projects along the US-Mexico Border including an award-winning, community-based hygiene education program that reached thousands of families living without water and sewerage services.

She has spearheaded policy efforts within the American Public Health Association to support the protection of agricultural workers and serves on the federal advisory committee to the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs.

Her programs have won several awards including the 2008 EPA Children’s Environmental Health Champion Award and the 2015 National Safety Council Research Collaboration Award. In 2011, Ms. Liebman received the Lorin Kerr Award, an APHA/Occupational Health and Safety Section honor recognizing public health professionals for their dedication and sustained efforts to improve the lives of workers. She is a past Chair of APHA’s Occupational Health and Safety and is now representing the section on APHA’s Governing Council.

Ms. Liebman has been the principal investigator and project manager of numerous government and privately sponsored projects. She has authored articles, bilingual training manuals and other educational materials dealing with environmental and occupational health and migrants. Ms. Liebman has a Master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Arts from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Juliana Simmons, MPH -
Ms. Simmons has dedicated her career to improving the safety and health challenges facing vulnerable populations. After serving as an intern with the Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) as an undergraduate student, she pursued a public health degree. Since 2014, she has served as MCN’s Environmental and Occupational Health Program Manager where she coordinates multiple grant funded programs relating to improved recognition and management of worker injury and illness, and other environmental and occupational health concerns of workers and their families. She coordinates the day-to-day activities on MCN’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Susan Harwood Training grant, which involves the application of a train-the-trainer program for community health workers (CHWs) to provide health and safety training for workers.

She has designed OSHA-approved training curricula and facilitated workshops and national webinars for CHWs. She is the lead program manager for a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) project to address the needs of farmworker children and engages farmworker parents, childcare providers, growers and agricultural industry groups. She supports evaluation and reporting activities on MCN’s EPA cooperative agreement to improve the recognition and management of worker injuries and illnesses. She has developed educational resources for agricultural workers and others with limited English proficiency and low literacy levels. She has presented at national and regional conferences. She holds a certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist and is professionally certified in public health. She is fluent in Spanish.

Current Accreditations

This course has been certified by or provided by the following Certified Organization/s:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • 1.00 Hours

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