Hurricane Matthew left a wake of destruction in its path after tearing through many parts of the United States and surrounding countries. Hurricanes and storms of this magnitude often result in widespread flooding and property/infrastructure damage. The damage incurred to entire towns and cities requires a lot of cleanup and recovery by experts in the field as well as home owners, business owners, and good Samaritans.
In this blog we will cover hurricane cleanup and recovery with the help of a cable winch hoist, along with some basic tips about worker safety.
There are plenty of hazards associated with hurricane cleanup, including contaminated floodwaters, downed power lines, tree trimming and removal, debris removal, work zones, construction activities, and many more. There are also many protective measures you can take to ensure cleanup is as safe and effective as possible. One such measure is the use of a good cable winch hoist.
Flood water can be one of the most dangerous parts of hurricane cleanup. Contaminated water with large debris and downed electrical lines can pose many risks to the safety of workers. Even so, removing large objects from flood waters like cars, trees, power lines, and pieces of destroyed homes is crucial to the cleanup process. So, how can a cable hoist help with cleanup while also keeping workers safer in the process?
OSHA recommends avoiding flood water as much as possible. As a protective measure, one should assume all flood water is contaminated. If you have to enter the water, OSHA recommends using the proper personal protective equipment for toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, and mold.
Cable winch hoists (also known as come alongs) can easily be used to pull a truck out of mud or flood water. Before attempting this, it’s important to ensure your winch hoist is the appropriate rated capacity to pull your vehicle from the water. Once you’ve ensured you are using the correct capacity, you can start by connecting the end hook at the top of the hoist frame to the vehicle or debris you are trying to remove. Connecting the hoist to the vehicle or debris can be tricky in contaminated flood waters, but if you’re assisting with cleanup in stagnant water, OSHA recommends you only enter the water if you are up-to-date on tetanus shots and are wearing waterproof clothing like boots, latex, or rubber gloves and other protective clothing. For really high flood water, you can also approach the vehicle or debris using a motor boat.
After you’ve connected the end hook to the vehicle, you will need to connect the hoist itself to a fixed object—like a tree. The advantage of using a cable winch hoist in this situation is that the double pawl positive locking system ensures there’s no slippage under water.
A cable winch hoist can also be used in hurricane cleanup outside of flood water. Once the water has receded, home owners, members of the community, and professionals often work together to clean up parts of homes that have been destroyed, trees that have fallen over, and other large objects toppled by the storm. The same process can be applied to removing heavy objects from mud and piles of debris: connect the shank hook to the object you are trying to move, and connect the hoist to a stationary object.
It is always important to remember that safety must come first. OSHA warns us of many potential hazards like burns and electrocution from downed power lines, being struck or crushed by falling tree limbs, injuries from heavy equipment like chain saws, falls from aerial lifts, ladders, roofs, and other elevated work surfaces, and even toxic carbon monoxide from generator exhaust. Your cable winch hoist is a wonderful tool for storm and hurricane clean up, but just like with anything else, your personal safety should always come first.
For more information about how to stay safe during storm/hurricane clean up, visit the OSHA fact sheet publication: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Cleanup and Recovery.
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Cleanup and Recovery:
- Operating Instructions for Your Lug-All Cable Ratchet Winch Hoist