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Health and safety success in the Dominican Republic

FCDO Services supported local contractors to restore the Ambassador’s Residence safely and make it habitable following extensive flood damage .

In November 2022, there was a flood at the British Embassy Santo Domingo Residence. Unusually high rainfall caused a nearby river to burst its banks.

The water affected several parts of the building, including the guardroom, generator and fuel tank, water filtration system and underground water supply tanks.   

Contamination risk

The flood caused a risk of contamination from sewage and other untreated water sources. The electrical supply was also a concern and the generator and fuel tank needed testing.

Furnishings that could not be disinfected after being soaked with contaminated water had to be disposed of.  

Crisis response

An FCDO Services engineer in region was quickly diverted to Santo Domingo as a crisis response measure.

They rapidly restored the residence to a health and safety compliant environment.  

Safety expertise

Our engineer supported local staff to evaluate the flood damage and check that there were no further underlying issues.

They highlighted that cleaning works to the main water tank should wait until a risk assessment was done and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was in place to avoid the risk of potential fatalities from noxious gases within the tank.

This meant that the contractor undertaking the cleaning works delayed starting the clean-up to ensure the work could happen safely.  

Trusted advice

We advised post to get a suitable multi-gas detector for possible gas build up in the water tank following the contamination caused by the flood, implement an emergency rescue procedure and purchase further PPE to comply with guidance on confined spaces.

Post obtained a gas detector and a harness with a lifeline. We explained that it is best practice to remove the need for anyone to enter the confined space as it eliminates the associated risk.  

We worked with post to implement the correct procedure for draining the tank of any remaining wastewater, known as black water, then refilling it with super-chlorinated fresh water, repeating the procedure for the full system.  

Good collaboration and communication with staff at post, and contractors following FCDO Services’ advice meant that all systems and services were able to function in a safe and proper way after the engineer’s visit. 

I was grateful for all the excellent and invaluable advice, as well as patience, whilst you kindly took us through what is an incredibly important Health and Safety process for us. It has left us in excellent shape and with the right planning systems in place.”
Mockbul Ali OBE, HM Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Haiti