CASE STUDY THE SITUATION: You are an Industrial Hygienist for a large New Orleans Hospital, and you evacuated to Baton Rouge after the Katrina disaster. It is 6 weeks after the event and you have been given the responsibility to supervise a team that will return to the hospital, evaluate the situation, and participate in a plan to re-establish basic medical needs for the workers involved in the recovery effort. Your team is composed of the hospital’s current Safety Supervisor (programs and training), the Environmental Manager (physical plant, wastes and regulatory issues), and two technicians (versed in IH and environmental sample collection and testing). There are an additional 20-25 employees from other areas (professional, technical, and support staff) of the hospital under the direction of the Incident Commander. Everyone on the recovery team will be housed on site in FEMA trailers. Power for all operations is from large FEMA portable emergency generators. Your offices are on the second floor of the building, along with the surgical suites, clinical laboratory, and pharmacy. In your offices, there is a considerable amount of trash and debris scattered about with ample evidence of the public’s intrusion of the area after the event. You will find muddy footprints and open cabinets, along with testing supplies and equipment strewn about your team’s work space. The surgical suites and clinical laboratory areas are very messy but otherwise in good shape; however, the pharmacy has been trashed and ransacked. The basement and much of the first floor were flooded to a level of about 6 feet. The main administrative offices, emergency room operations, and cafeteria/kitchen were on the first floor. The hospital will not be able to provide its own power for at least 6-8 weeks. Normal communication lines are down. Cell phones are working sporadically, but promises have been made for rapid improvement over the next 10 to 14 days. Most communications in these early days of recovery are face to face. THE BOSS NEEDS: The Incident Commander (person in-charge of recovery) for this operation is looking to you for guidance on safe entry, safe clean up procedures, appropriate PPE for all recovery workers, and a hazard assessment for the most critical items or operations that can cause acute or chronic health effects, illness, or disease. Remember that you are to respond as the industrial hygienist working for the hospital. It is important to consider the industrial hygiene hazards for the hospital as well as those introduced by the hurricane. THE QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED: You may respond to these questions in any order you choose. What recommendations and guidance would you make to the Incident Commander to address his concerns and needs? What are the main Industrial Hygiene concerns for your team and the clean-up recovery workers? How would you organize your team? What tasks would you assign to them? What PPE would you require for your team members and the recovery workers – short term and then later in the recovery effort? What testing equipment would you require for your team members? What hazardous materials might need to be removed from the facility? What air monitoring would need to be conducted? How would you delegate certain duties to your team members? Provide any other pertinent information you feel is important and necessary
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