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As rebuilding begins after flood, risk of worker injury could rise

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At least 17 counties have been affected by the Colorado flooding. More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed and thousands of people have been applying for federal aid. As officials continue to respond to the devastation, the Governor has selected a Chief Recovery Officer to make sure that restoration and rebuilding stays on schedule.

The biggest challenge right now is time. Many of the roads and bridges will need to be rebuilt before winter arrives. This means that in addition to the many search-and-rescue workers who are still looking for the nearly 150 missing people, construction workers will be working hard at bridge and road repair.

A senior vice president and several employees from a local consulting firm will help determine what current issues exist as a result of the flood damage. This will involve a number of different factors including engineering and environment. But once that analysis is complete, work will likely begin.

What does this mean for construction workers and on-site engineers? With so many projects and a window of time that gets smaller each day, this could mean longer work days and tougher construction work. Even before reconstruction can begin, much of the debris has to be cleared away.

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As construction workers being their work, it is likely that they will be facing additional dangers and hazards due to the flooding. From uneven ground to unstable structures, the risk of suffering an injury such as a crush injury or head trauma could be greater.

Rebuilding the bridges and roads will help communities begin the recovery process from the flood. Hopefully those who are working will stay safe in the process.

Source: The Denver Post, “Colorado flood: Chief recovery officer appointed; death toll rises,” Ryan Parker, Sept. 20, 2013

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