Flood Response

Policy

The following Flood Response policy (the “Policy”) has been developed to establish appropriate procedures related to occupational safety and environmental compliance when responding to flood emergencies.   

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Applicability

This Policy applies to buildings operated by Facilities Services Operations and the following buildings operated by Physical Plant: Biological Sciences Learning Center, Cummings Life Sciences Center, Kovler Laboratory, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery. 

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Scope

This Policy addresses flood emergencies which occur in University of Chicago buildings. 

Flood emergencies include uncontrolled releases of water from building systems (e.g. plumbing, sewer, steam, or fire suppression) or water infiltration from weather-related events.  An emergency is defined as significant damage which will impact facility operations, creates an unsafe condition, or impacts regulated building materials such as oil-containing equipment, chemical storage, or asbestos building materials.  

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Authority and Responsibility

Environmental Health and Safety (“EHS”) shall be responsible for: 

  • Providing an On-Call Safety Officer twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; 
  • Evaluating flooded or water-damaged spaces, upon request from Facilities Services or Physical Plant, for potential hazards which may impact flood response;  
  • Notifying Risk Management if the flood emergency will or may potentially result in property damage; 
  • Notifying the Office of Research Safety if the flood emergency will or may potentially impact research operations; 
  • Arranging for removal of building materials containing asbestos as required for the flood response activities; 
  • Ensuring Red Tag procedures are followed for flood emergencies associated with fire suppression systems; 
  • Conducting accident or incident investigations, when appropriate, and documenting findings and corrective actions in EH&S Assistant. 

The University of Chicago Police Department (“UCPD”) shall be responsible for: 

  • Paging the On-Call Safety Officer for the applicable safety office when notified about a flood emergency. 

Facilities Services Operations and Physical Plant shall be responsible for: 

  • Reporting flood emergencies to UCPD to ensure EHS or ORS is paged; 
  • Investigating and responding to flood emergencies when it is safe to do so; 
  • Verifying safe conditions, including implementation of lockout/tagout procedures, prior to initiating flood response; 
  • Requesting assistance from EHS if hazardous conditions impact flood response activities or if the flood emergency will impact asbestos, hazardous materials, or oil; 
  • Requesting assistance from ORS if chemical, biological, or radiological materials are impacted; 
  • Arranging for remediation contractors if damaged building materials need to be removed, dried, and/or and disinfected or when the water is hazardous or bio-hazardous (EHS will arrange for removal of building materials containing asbestos); 
  • Informing contractors of potential hazards, such as lead-based paint, they may encounter while performing remediation activities; 
  • Following the impairment procedures as described in the Fixed Fire Suppression Systems policy when flood response involves impairments of fire or life safety systems; and 
  • Informing EHS and Risk Management of their internal flood response procedures. 

Facility Managers shall be responsible for: 

  • Reporting flood emergencies to UCPD to ensure EHS is paged; 
  • Notifying building occupants about flood emergencies and response activities; and 
  • Coordinating relocation of building occupants and materials from areas impacted by flood emergencies. 

The Office of Research Safety (“ORS”) shall be responsible for: 

  • Providing an On-Call Safety Officer twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; 
  • Coordinating flood response inside research spaces related to chemical, biological, or radiological hazards; 
  • Notifying the EHS On-Call Officer, via page, regarding flood emergencies impacting areas outside of research spaces; and 
  • Informing EHS and Risk Management of their internal flood response procedures. 
  • Conducting accident or incident investigations, when appropriate, and documenting findings and corrective actions in EH&S Assistant when research spaces are impacted or cause the flooding. 

Facilities Services Capital Project Delivery shall be responsible for: 

  • Reporting flood emergencies on project sites to UCPD to ensure EHS or ORS is paged; 
  • Notifying Facilities Services or Physical Plant if flood emergencies associated with project activities will impact areas outside of the project site; and 
  • Arranging remediation contractors for flood response on project sites if damaged building materials need to be removed, dried, and/or disinfected or when the water is hazardous or bio-hazardous (EHS will arrange for removal of building materials containing asbestos). 

Risk Management shall be responsible for: 

  • Notifying EHS about flood emergencies which may impact asbestos-containing materials, hazardous materials, or oil storage/oil containing equipment; 
  • Notifying ORS regarding flooding impacting research labs, especially when chemical, biological, or radiological materials are impacted. 
  • Reimbursing EHS for asbestos abatements completed as part of a flood response; and 
  • Informing EHS of their internal flood response procedures. 

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Incident Notification

Flood emergencies should be reported to the University of Chicago Police Department by calling 773.702.8181 or dialing 123 from a campus phone. Upon notification of a flood emergency, the UCPD will notify applicable building operations group (Facilities Services or Physical Plant) and  EHS for buildings which do not contain laboratories or ORS for buildings containing laboratories. 

Upon notification from the UCPD of a flood in a non-lab building, EHS will contact building operations to verify they are aware of the flood emergency and are responding. 

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Initial Flood Response

Initial flood response activities will focus on investigating the area for unsafe conditions and then controlling the source of the flood, preventing water damage, removing the flood water, and drying or removing damaged materials.   

Building engineers will respond to the scene and, if safe to do so, proceed with their department specific flood response procedures. Engineers must de-energize exposed electrical systems and follow Lockout Tagout procedures. Building operations are responsible for verifying safe conditions; however, engineers can, and are encouraged, to request EHS assistance to evaluate the space and identify potential hazards which my impact flood response. 

The building operations group will be responsible for facilitating remediation activities, including arranging for remediation contractors. EHS will arrange for asbestos abatement when asbestos-containing materials are impacted by flooding. Risk Management will be notified by EHS when the flood emergencies will or may potentially result in property damages. 

The impairment procedures, as described in the Fixed Fire Suppression Systems policy, must be followed when flood response requires impairments of fire and life safety systems. 

During flood response, Facility Managers will be the point of contact between flood responders and building occupants. 

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Flood Response Escalation

EHS will notify the Office of Emergency Management when flood emergencies significantly impact University operations, such as in the following scenarios: 

  • Flood emergency impacts multiple buildings; 
  • Building(s) evacuations are required; or 
  • Impact to key operations such as student dining or housing. 

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Flood Response Follow-up

When requested by the Facility Manager or building operations group, EHS will evaluate areas where flooding occurred to determine if there are potential hazards which need to be addressed prior to reoccupying the space. 

When applicable, EHS will investigate flood emergencies with the responsible operations group. Investigations will focus on identifying the root cause of the event and corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence. Investigations will be documented in EH&S Assistant. 

Reviewed: June 2020 

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