People will be under pressure to retrieve material. Make sure that you take time to ensure that this is done efficiently and with the least likelihood of danger of injury to yourself and your staff. If the building is structurally unsound you will not be allowed to enter it, often the case if the building has been affected by fire, even if the fire was in an adjacent building. Use this time to plan the recovery phase in as much detail as possible.

Assess the situation

Assess the level of risk. Note wet floors, poor lighting, items on the floor and collapsed shelves.

Will mechanical aids like trolleys and steps be useful?

Will materials need to be carried up and down stairs, and if so, how can this be done safely?

Ensure that equipment and supplies are placed in a convenient location.

Safe handling methods

  • Avoid excessive bending of the back.
  • Keep loads close to the body and use leg muscles to lift.
  • Avoid twisting or side bending when lifting.
  • Use kick-stools or step ladders to remove materials from the top shelves.
  • Vary the work, so that different muscles are used. Don’t perform work using the same muscles for longer than 30 minutes.
  • Ensure that assistants take regular breaks.

During the recovery and post-recovery phases, it is important to remember that people will react to the situation in different ways. Disasters are stressful events: some will cope well, others will fall to pieces. Under such circumstances, people who would normally work efficiently without supervision may need special care and attention. They need clear instructions, and may need supervision.

For more information visit Counter-disaster planning.

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