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|Workplace Security: Safeguarding the Workplace|
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.
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 OSHA’s report summarizing the work at the World Trade Center, Inside the Green Line, the lessons learned include the firm understanding that on September 11th, the United States entered a new era that requires increased levels of vigilance and stronger commitments than ever before to emergency preparedness. (Inside the Green Line is available online at www.osha.gov, or by calling 800.321.OSHA.)
Following the work in New York, both federal OSHA and state plan programs for occupational safety and health are taking action to address this important lesson learned by developing emergency preparedness strategies. 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) continues to focus on enhancing capabilities to respond to emergencies, natural disasters or acts of terrorism to provide safety and health expertise to first responders. The DOSH 9/11 WTC Response Team, and other staff, developed the DOSH Crisis Response Plan and are ensuring that employees have appropriate emergency response training (Incident Command, HAZWOPER, etc.) and have necessary resources readily available in the event of an emergency. Staff continue to participate in emergency response training/refresher training and are utilizing "tabletop" sessions to evaluate readiness and response capabilities. Last fall, DOSH exercised its Crisis Response Plan as Hurricane Isabel was moving northward up the eastern seaboard. DOSH personnel were positioned at the New York State Command Center throughout the weekend activation.
DOSH has also continued to work closely with emergency services throughout New York including SEMO, Office of Public Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction Task Force, Fire Service and Police, EMS, etc. Outreach efforts include providing training, fit testing, PPE assessments and safety and health consultations. The inspection and consultation staff continue to evaluate emergency response plans throughout their jurisdiction, providing assistance in updating and improving emergency response plans for various employers and municipalities. Consultants are actively contacting their local emergency response agencies to establish working relationships and provide information on the DOSH Crisis Response Plan and the role DOSH plays in emergency situations throughout New York.
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, WMD, response to terrorism, incident command, and advanced medical training. 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 help to ensure that employers are prepared for the unexpected. Outreach sessions have proven productive for 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.
The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) has begun serving on the Advisory Committee for the Arizona Emergency Response Commission. This Commission oversees 15 Local Emergency Planning Committees and supports community, industry and government and academia in: planning, release and incident reporting, data management guidance for inventory reporting, public disclosure of information about hazardous chemicals in Arizona as well as development of training and outreach programs.
The Commission supports individual agency goals and objectives. This is accomplished through the receipt and coordination of emergency notifications of chemical releases, collection and provision of chemical inventory information to interested parties, training and grants programs.
Additionally, the AZSERC provides consultative services, conducts and participates in workshops and coordinates development and review of plans and programs for 15 Local Emergency Planning Committees. Further, the AZSERC serves as a state clearinghouse for hazardous chemical emergency preparedness and planning activities and information through coordination with federal, state, local governments, industry and community interest groups. Additionally, ADOSH continued to participate in monthly conference calls between Federal OSHA and other state plan states to discuss homeland security issues and the role for OSHA and state plan states.
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.
Maryland continues to offer the "Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness" seminar to guide participants through the process of preparing and implementing an emergency response plan. This seminar was presented five times during this period reaching 150 employers and employees for a total 900 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 has also developed an Emergency Management Plan and designated staff to provide initial response and assistance following a catastrophic incident.
In response to the terrorism and anthrax concerns that emerged 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 information on helpful websites. The guide is available in hard copy and on the MIOSHA website.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry 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 FY03, MNOSHA continued to monitor the activities of the Minnesota Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee and participated as a member when the committee was addressing MNOSHA-related issues. Agendas for the quarterly meetings in 2003 dealt primarily with homeland security issues.
The members of the internal Catastrophic Event Inspection Team and MNOSHA management completed training for both the Basic Incident Command System and Emergency Response to Terrorism. In FY03, MNOSHA purchased equipment such as: Reference books; A chemical detector kit; Rolling duffle bags; Various gloves; Hooded windbreakers; A weatherproof first aid kit; and A portable eyewash.
In FY 2002, Oregon OSHA created its Terrorism Task Force. The mission of the task force is two-fold: to develop a strategy for OR-OSHA’s response in the event of a major terrorist event or disaster, and to participate with other state and local agencies in preparing for and planning a coordinated response to such an event.
The development of a draft plan of action for responding to a major terrorist event is one of the most significant accomplishments resulting from the efforts of the Terrorism Task Force. The detailed plan outlines a very specific course of events that will be set into motion following a qualifying event, including identifying the different roles of OR-OSHA staff, meeting locations, internal and external communications, initial discussion issues, sampling policy, and a plan for providing incident specific safety and health training to responders.
Training members to enhance their knowledge of emergency response and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) threats is a top priority of the Task Force. Members have received specialized training in the areas of incident command, the role of industrial hygiene in a terrorist response, and biohazard agents.
Locally, the Task Force has been actively involved with Oregon Emergency Management (OEM), the branch of Oregon state government responsible for coordinating emergency responses. Oregon OSHA serves as a member of the Oregon Emergency Response System Council, which meets quarterly. The primary role of OROSHA in this group is to assure the safety and health issues of first responders and first receivers (i.e. hospital staff) are addressed. OR-OSHA is also part of an OEM working group of state and local agencies that meets monthly to discuss emergency planning.
Oregon OSHA also participates in national emergency preparedness efforts including the OSHA monthly conference call and the Interstate Chemical Terrorism Working Group (ICTWG). The ICTWG teleconferences monthly to discuss issues affecting the ability of the national public health community to effectively respond to an act of terrorism involving chemicals.
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. Tennessee OSHA has provided input to OSHA’s Region IV Emergency Response Plan. Staff members most likely to be involved in emergency response activities have received training in both Incident Command and Emergency Response to Terrorism procedures. The Commissioner of Labor and Workplace Development is a member of the Governor’s Homeland Security Council.
In preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Utah established a separate state agency with the responsibility of coordinating the response in the state to large scale workplace emergencies. This agency is the Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security. It is part of the Department of Public Safety. The Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division plays a supporting role by making its resources available as needed.
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.
The VOSH Emergency Response Plan includes coordination with and monitoring of state emergency services and related activities. Direct support activities will include proper respirator usage and testing of equipment as well as other procedural assistance as required during rescue and relief operations.
Washington had active participation in the "TOPOFF 2" exercise that was held in 2003 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.
Washington (WISHA) is working with the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division, the agency that has primary responsibility for coordination and emergency contingency planning. WISHA representatives also worked with other state agencies to address issues regarding the preparation and response to acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events. Activities include discussion and incorporation of safety and health requirements for emergency responders, training, planning, and attending scheduled emergency exercises. WISHA participated in a Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness (CSEPP) exercise with the Emergency Management Division. The exercise included representatives from Oregon and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
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