“The primary federal law that governs health and safety practices in both governmental industries and the private sector, the Occupational Safety and Health Act works to ensure that all employers keep their employees safe in the workplace. Conditions dictated by the Act include, among other things, toxic chemicals, damaging noise levels, and excessive weather conditions. The Act is outlined in the United States Code Title 29: Chapter 15. “
"Some specifics are:
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this chapter.
(b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this chapter which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.
OSHA’s standard specifically regarding tornadoes is as follows:
“To prepare for a tornado, businesses should develop an emergency plan. The plan should include details on suitable places to take shelter, policies to ensure all personnel are accounted for, and procedures for addressing any hazardous materials that are on-site. “
How does this apply to public libraries? Libraries are classified by OSHA in the following way:
Description for 8231: Libraries
Division I: Services | Major Group 82: Educational Services
Industry Group 823: Libraries
Establishments primarily engaged in providing library services, including the circulation of books and other materials for reading, study, and reference. Establishments primarily engaged in operating motion picture film libraries are classified in Industry 7829.
Centers for documentation
Libraries, printed matter
Rental of books
I had a personal experience in my own library recently. I was at the library alone, with several kids in the building. We were under a tornado watch all day, but towards late afternoon it turned into a tornado warning. I was watching the map and all of the live weather reports as a tornado touched down in the next town over. As the ‘tornado flies,’ it was not very far from my location, and things could have escalated quickly. I told all of the children that I did not want them to leave, and if I told them to get into the hallway, I expected them to do so without question. (Nothing was happening at that moment . . . .I was watching carefully.) Some teens left anyway, a father arrived to take a daughter home, and a grandmother called the library to check on her kiddos.
I also had the benefit of a weather radio provided by the library system.
As it turned out, nothing happened at my site and all was well. The location where the tornado landed suffered a significant amount of destruction.
In working through this assignment, I believe I have realized that my library system does not have a specific extreme weather policy, other than procedures for snow closures. This is something I will pursue further with our staff.
“Occupational Safety and Health Act - Definition, Examples.” Legal Dictionary, 19 Aug. 2015, legaldictionary.net/occupational-safety-and-health-act/.
“UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov/pls/imis/sic_manual.display?id=207&tab=description.
“UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov/dts/weather/tornado/.