With torrential rain across much of the UK, and forecasters predicting more than 100mm rain in the second week of June 2019 for some parts of the country, managers may wish to remind their employees about how to minimise the risks associated with floodwater.

As the waters begin to recede, employers will be thinking how to safely get their business up and running again.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has offered the following advice on how employers and workers should minimise the risks associated with floodwater.

  • Avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater if possible, as it can contain sewage and chemicals. If you have to go into the water, wear waterproof gloves, overalls and rubber boots.

  • Take care if you have to go into floodwater — there could be hidden dangers like sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution.

  • Keep open cuts and sores clean and use waterproof plasters to protect them.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after contact with floodwater or after cleaning up.

In addition to the above points, when cleaning up premises after a flood, HSE advice includes the following.

  • Hoses are useful for washing down. If you are scrubbing or hosing, you should wear suitable protective clothing to protect you from splashes of contaminated water.

  • High pressure hoses may blast contamination into the air and it is recommended that you use appropriate protection for your eyes and face.

  • Do not mix chlorine-based bleaches with other detergents, as this may release hazardous fumes.

  • Remember to wash your hands and all safety clothing, such as goggles, after each clean-up session; this helps to stop bacteria breeding.

Specialist advice may need to be sought where substances such as chemicals, gases, fumes or asbestos are involved or have possibly been disturbed by flood waters.

Last reviewed 11 June 2019