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September 11, 2001

World Trade Center Site

Statement from John Henshaw
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
September 11, 2002

One year ago, on a picture-perfect September morning, the landscape of our nation was altered. An act of cowardice and evil that was meant to destroy and demoralize us, in fact emboldened a proud nation to stand even taller.

The firefighters and police officers, recovery workers, construction workers and tradesmen and women in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the Pennsylvania countryside were the most visible symbols of the strongest and most capable labor force in the world. Teachers, clergy, emergency medical and military personnel, and thousands of other men and women operated behind the scenes to keep America working.

More than 1,000 members of the OSHA family from around the country came to New York City; they worked around the clock for nearly 10 months to protect workers involved in the cleanup and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center disaster site.

Our goal was to ensure the continued safety of the thousands of heroes at the disaster sites, and to make certain that no more lives were lost. None were, and that was no small feat. Injury rates were very low, and none was life threatening. That is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the many professionals not only from OSHA but also from other government agencies, construction contractors, labor organizations, and the City of New York. They, together with their counterparts in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, answered a special call to duty this past year.

Today, as we pause to remember the innocent lives lost a year ago, let us also pay tribute to the working heroes of this country who helped us recover with strength and dignity and allowed a proud Nation to stand even taller.

JSHQ cover Fall 2001

OSHA Responds to Disaster...

OSHA responded immediately to the September 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC. While thousands of America's citizens-firefighters, law enforcement officers, health care workers, tradesman, and volunteers-joined hands to rescue and recover victims, OSHA went to work to protect their health and safety.

Full Story: JSHQ Magazine Icon[PDF]

WTC Building 6

Photo: Kevin Brennan [OSHA]

An OSHA Office Evacuates...

OSHA's Manhattan Area Office was based in the top floor of the World Trade Center's Building 6. Tower 1's collapse completely destroyed OSHA's Area Office.

Full Story: JSHQ Magazine Icon[PDF]


OSHA Response At The Pentagon...

At the Pentagon, a three-person Federal OSHA team served in a largely advisory role, overseeing emergency response and helping identify appropriate respiratory protection for emergency workers.

Tom Pope, director of the Norfolk Area Office, says the team worked side-by-side with the military, the EPA, and the FBI to ensure worker safety and health during rescue and recovery operations.

"The site was very different from the one in New York in that it involved a much more controlled area with one employer, the U.S. government, one building, and much less damage," Pope says. "Everyone worked together in a positive way and as a result, there were minimal injuries and no serious injuries among the response workers in the whole process."

OSHA's non-stop work has been an integral part of the rescue and recovery operations. When workers on the pile cheer at the site of people wearing green jackets with OSHA across the back, the agency knows it is making a difference.

An OSHA employee instructs a New York Police Department officer in the use of respiratory protection at the site

Photo: Donna Miles [OSHA]

OSHA World Trade Center Response...

An OSHA employee instructs a New York Police Department officer in the use of respiratory protection at the site. During the first two months of the recovery effort, OSHA distributed about 110,000 respirators, conducted quantitative fit-testing, and instructed wearers in how to use respirators. OSHA continues to distribute respirators and conduct quantitative fit tests at the site every day.

Full Story: JSHQ Magazine Icon[PDF]

Last Steel Column

Photo: Gil Gillen [OSHA]

Last Steel Column

Photo: Gil Gillen [OSHA]

OSHA Wraps Up Work At WTC...

New York Regional Administrator Patricia Clark looks on as Laura Kenny, the region's labor liaison, signs the last steel column to be removed from the site.

This last steel column serves as a temporary memorial.

Around-the-clock vigilance kept injury and illness rates low during the clean-up. After nearly 3.7 million work hours, only 57 workers at the site suffered injuries that resulted in lost workdays. What's more, no worker fatalities occurred at the site.

Full Story: JSHQ Magazine Icon[PDF]

Additional World Trade Center Information

Final Report - WTC Dust Cleaning Program [PDF 160 KB]
Saving Lives at the World Trade Center
Monitoring and Sampling Results Summaries
Detailed Results: [Asbestos | Silica | Metals | Organics]

News Releases on activities at WTC Site:

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