It is spring time in the United States. This is considered the tornado season for much of the country, but twisters can happen at any time, experts say. It is estimated that there are 1,200 tornadoes per year in the US, and 70 people on average die from them, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Twisters can wreak havoc in all 50 states, but they are especially common in Georgia. In fact, Georgia was second only to Texas in 2017 for national tornado counts. Worth and Colquitt counties in our state have the most reported tornadoes over the past 68 years – 32.
Given how common tornadoes are in this country, it is worth asking yourself, what is your employer doing to ensure it is prepared if the worst happens? Below are some tips and advice that employers should consider as the weather warms and tornado season gets in full swing.
Get a Plan
First, experts advise, it is important for employers to have an action plan in place for a disaster such as a tornado. Good planning can mitigate property damage and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities.
OSHA standards require almost all employers with 11 or more employees to have a comprehensive, written emergency action plan. Employers that have 10 or fewer employees can communicate their emergency action plans verbally.
When bad weather is approaching, employers should:
- Listen to local weather forecasts to determine whether dangerous weather is in the area. Employers also can keep track of dangerous storms with the FEMA app or a NOAA weather radio.
- Keep all employees up to date about dangerous weather in the area. For example, employers can communicate via text, email or intercom announcements, depending upon the situation. The outdoor warning siren in your community should never be the main warning method for an employer.
- Devise a backup communication system in case the main one fails in an emergency. Test all emergency communication systems once per quarter.
- Check that employees know where to go for shelter during a tornado.
- Have tornado drills every quarter.
A funnel cloud is the clearest sign that a tornado is imminent, but also watch for these danger signs:
- Dark or greenish sky
- Wall clouds or pedestal clouds in the sky
- Strong and persistent rotation in the clouds
- Heavy rain or hail followed by sudden calm and/or strong wind shift
- Roaring noise that does not fade after seconds.
Go to Shelter
When there is a tornado warning, your employees should know where to go. It is your job to provide this information. Generally, workers should seek a windowless, enclosed area on the first floor or basement. This area should be close to the center of the building and away from windows.
After the Storm
After the tornado, the CDC recommends the following:
- Check all workers for injuries. Never move anyone who is seriously injured; get medical assistance.
- Check weather apps and other communication channels for more weather information.
- Walk carefully through damaged areas and look out for downed power lines, standing water and other hazards.
Remember, it is the job of your employer to make proper safety plans in case of a tornado. If they do not and you are injured, you could have legal options.
Hurt on the Job? Speak to a Georgia Workplace Accident Attorney Today
If you are injured on the job for any reason, including in a tornado or other disaster, you could be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost earnings and pain and suffering. Please contact the Mann Law Firm for a free consultation today.