|OSHSPA Reports on State Plan Activities > 2002 OSHSPA Report > Workplace Security: Safeguarding the Workplace|
|Workplace Security: Safeguarding the Workplace|
Protecting Workers at Ground Zero
Protecting Workers at Ground Zero The United States will never be the same following September 11, 2001. The destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) was unprecedented in American history. The tragic events of 9/11 have become a national benchmark. The heroic dedication of the rescue workers at what became known as Ground Zero filled the nation with hope and pride.
New York, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
The New York Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) and federal OSHA took immediate steps in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect the search and rescue workers. Besides New York DOSH, 18 state plan states sent staff to work in New York City as part of the around-the-clock effort to ensure the safety and health of workers involved in the World Trade Center recovery operations. States sending workers were: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
On May 30, 2002, the recovery and cleanup at the World Trade Center disaster site came to an end. Three million work hours were logged by rescue and recovery personnel at the World Trade Center worksite. More than 1,000 members of the OSHA family from around the country came to New York City to help protect those recovery workers.
The state plan states were proud to aid in the efforts to protect the thousands of working men and women at the World Trade Center disaster site. Staff who volunteered expressed a unified gratitude to be able to assist the heroic men and women who worked tirelessly in the rescue and recovery operations.
Preparing for Workplace Emergencies
In response to the events at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and numerous anthrax scares–government officials combined their efforts to protect citizens from acts of terrorism. Many federal and state agencies charged with protecting workers developed guidelines, formed project groups and enlisted other organizations to address terrorism and emergency preparedness in the workplace.
No one expects an emergency or disaster to directly affect them, their employees or their business. An emergency or disaster, however, can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Workplace emergencies in the past have included: fires, floods, toxic gas releases or chemical spills, explosions, etc. Now that list must also include acts of terrorism.
State plan states have responded in a variety of ways to this new workplace hazard. Typically we know what the hazards of the workplace are, and we know how to protect workers against known risks. When dealing with the unexpected and unknown risks related to workplace security and emergency preparedness, a cooperative effort is essential.
The New York State Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) has expanded its ability to respond to emergencies and to protect the workplace through a combination of outreach, training and consultant services. Since the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster, DOSH has focused on a number of emergency preparedness readiness activities.
Under the Comprehensive Cooperative Agreement Strategic Plan, significant safety and related work has continued with New York’s fire and emergency services organizations. Outreach, training, and resources are provided to foster operational response working relationships, assist with incident command and line of authority training, and facilitate necessary updates to emergency response plans. These efforts have included coordination with state and local fire services, emergency management offices and fire associations. To date, over 600 partnerships have been established with various fire organizations. In addition, DOSH consultant services are coordinating with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) officials to assist with respirator fit testing, training for first responders, local response teams planning, and the development of procedures for equipment distribution in time of need.
DOSH utilized collective experiences of its 9/11 WTC response team by conducting a two-day critique of emergency readiness, response and recovery activities that resulted in the development of the DOSH Crisis Response Plan. This plan addresses the DOSH role to provide safety and health assistance and support to state and local government emergency responders in time of need. This plan addresses the DOSH response role for all natural and man-made disasters, including terrorist actions.
Work is also underway or has recently been completed as follows:
New Jersey was significantly impacted by the bio-terrorist attack in the fall of 2001. Four letters containing anthrax passed through postal facilities in New Jersey. The letters caused contamination that resulted in four cases of cutaneous and two cases of pulmonary anthrax, contamination of postal facilities, and public concern. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program (PEOSH), participated in the efforts to protect postal employees public employees and the public during this serious public health emergency.
PEOSH staff assisted in the development of guidelines including:
After the events of 9/11, it became clear to Nevada government agencies that they needed to be better prepared to handle catastrophic emergency situations. Through a combined effort, the Nevada OSHA and Safety Consultation and Training Sections were able to receive federal grants and one-shot money to form two response teams. These two teams began training in early October 2002.
All team members have been trained to the Technician Level for HAZMAT response, as well as, many training dealing for emergency response to terrorism. The two teams drill in conjunction with local first responder agencies, and work with high-hazard employers throughout the state. A major function of the teams is to perform outreach presentations to local employers to assist them in preparation for response to emergency situations.
Outreach presentations are focused around "Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace." Team members assist employers in reviewing emergency response plans, observe and participate in drills, and provide any type of help deemed necessary to ensure that the employer is prepared for the unexpected. Outreach sessions have proven to be productive for both employers and team members.
The two response team trailers are stocked with various types of personal protective equipment, which can be issued to affected employees and responders during the course of an incident. Files pertaining to high-hazard employers throughout the state are kept with the response team equipment to ensure quick access to much needed information during an emergency situation.
California has worked with local and state emergency response agencies on integrating safety into their planning and response to catastrophic events. For a number of years, Cal/OSHA representatives have met with the California Office of Emergency Services, the organization charged with coordination and emergency contingency planning. More recently, Cal/OSHA has met with the Office of Homeland Security.
Cal/OSHA recently expanded on its liaison with the Office of Homeland Security by completing a systematic evaluation of Cal/OSHA’s preparedness in terms of personnel and other resources to respond to terrorist events. Cal/OSHA has created emergency response teams in northern and southern California. Cal/OSHA personnel were selected to serve at the Risk Assessment level or the Competent Technical level based on the level of training, expertise and experience in one or more of the risk categories. Risk categories include biohazard, industrial chemical hazard, radiological hazard, chemical weapons or nuclear device hazard or structural collapse hazard.
Connecticut (CONN-OSHA) is working with the Connecticut Office of Emergency Management (OEM) developing personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols and guidelines for response to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents. They are also meeting with OEM to define CONN-OSHA’s roll to protect the safety and health of emergency responders, should an incident occur. CONN-OSHA continues to offer all employers in the state, emergency evacuation training and provided information to 300 emergency responders at the height of the anthrax incidents.
Iowa participated in inter-agency planning meetings in the statewide response to the anthrax threat in mail handling. They are also prepared to provide respiratory protection training to employers and employees.
The Kentucky OSH Program has representation on the Governor’s Security Working Group. The delegates meet monthly to plan actions to be taken and discuss homeland security issues, and participate in state security exercises and planning conferences.
During federal fiscal year 2002, Maryland developed an "Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness" seminar. The program guides participants through the process of preparing and implementing an emergency response plan. This seminar was presented four times during this period reaching 123 employers and employees for a total 738 training hours.
The new MIOSHA Strategic Plan for 2003-2008 includes a specific objective to address emergency preparedness strategies to enable MIOSHA to assist in the event of a terrorist or other significant threat or attack. MIOSHA will provide preparedness information to increase workplace knowledge of and readiness for a terrorist attack or other significant threat or attack. MIOSHA will train and equip program staff to provide consultation and technical assistance to clean up and recovery personnel. In response to the terrorism and anthrax concerns following 9/11, MIOSHA developed a workplace security resource guide for use in outreach and training efforts. The guide includes information on preparing for emergencies, terrorism and industrial chemicals, terrorism and biological/chemical agents (including anthrax) and helpful websites.
The Minnesota Department of Labor is represented by MNOSHA compliance at the Department of Public Safety. This representation ensures their involvement in all incidents of natural, as well as human-made disasters. In addition, they are involved in state of Minnesota planning for potential acts of terrorism. The role of MNOSHA compliance is defined in the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan. The state has an internal Catastrophic Event Team that is their first line of contact in regard to an event. MNOSHA also provides help to employers in regard to their emergency response and preparation plan.
In FY 2002, Oregon OSHA initiated a work group to coordinate and communicate information on biological and chemical terrorism. The group’s efforts are focused in five key areas: 1) identification and collection of information and resources related to biological and chemical terrorism; 2) networking and establishing a coordinated effort to address the occupational safety and health issues associated with emergency response; 3) emergency planning for the Portland metropolitan area; 4) participating with Oregon Public Health Services on chemical terrorism issues, including work being coordinated by NIOSH and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; and 5) seeking out training on bioterrorism and related issues. The goal is to create a team of experts knowledgeable in biological and chemical hazards trained to respond to a variety of contaminants under potentially catastrophic conditions.
Tennessee OSHA has worked with the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to develop a response plan to provide technical assistance and assure the safety and health protection of emergency workers. The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development is a member of the Governor’s Homeland Security Council.
In 2002, Virginia Consultation, in cooperation with the Virginia Labor Studies Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, conducted "Emergency Preparedness" training sessions for small businesses in three areas of the state. This project was to focus on businesses that were prone to any potential disasters, e.g., natural, man-made, and individual or organized terrorism. An Emergency Preparedness Manual was developed and is available in English and Spanish on their website at www.doli.state.va.us.
Washington had active participation in the "TOPOFF 2" exercise that was held in Seattle by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State. The exercise consisted of response by federal, state and local emergency responders to a simulated explosion containing radioactive material.
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