OSHA's Role at the World Trade Center Emergency Project

(September 21, 2002)
Since the September 11 terrorist attack, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has worked at the World Trade Center site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help protect rescue and recovery workers involved in recovery, demolition and site clearing operations. About 800 federal and state OSHA staffers and several private-sector volunteers from the Voluntary Protection Program's cadre of Special Government Employees from throughout the United States have assisted in and continue working in the following roles:

Risk Assessment/Monitoring
  • Taking more than 6,642 air and bulk samples to date for asbestos, silica, lead and other heavy metals, carbon monoxide, noise, and numerous organic and inorganic compounds.
  • Providing 24-hour laboratory support at the Salt Lake Technical Center to analyze air and bulk samples taken at the site.
    • Distributing sampling results directly to workers sampled as well as to contractors, unions, and other safety and health representatives at the site, and posting the sampling results on the agency website at www.osha.gov.
    • Providing guidance on appropriate personal protection equipment and feasible control measures based on monitoring results.
Respiratory Distribution and Fit-Checking
  • Distributing more than 121,000 respirators to date -- some 4,000 daily during the first weeks after the attack -- at two fixed locations and one mobile unit at the World Trade Center site, at the Fire Department of New York mustering point at the World's Fair Marina in Queens, and initially, at the Staten Island Landfill.
  • Initiating private-sector support for respiratory protection program, generating donations of resources and equipment from MSA, 3M, and other companies.
  • Conducting quantitative fit testing of negative-pressure respirators for the Fire Department of New York and assisting in quantitative fit testing of negative-pressure respirators for other rescue workers at the World Trade Center site.
Safety Monitoring
  • Conducting an initial assessment of the site within 24 hours of the attack to identify hazards and potential health and safety risks to workers involved in the recovery.
  • Providing around-the-clock monitoring of the site to identify and alert workers to safety and health hazards.
Site Safety and Health Support
  • Helping to develop the World Trade Center Emergency Project Environmental, Safety, and Health Plan to ensure the highest level of worker safety and health protections at the site.
  • Assisting in the development and coordination of a site orientation training program to familiarize workers with potential hazards, personal protective equipment requirements and overall safety rules at the site.
  • Distributing more than 11,200 hard hats, 11,800 safety glasses and goggles, 21,000 gloves, and other personal protective equipment to workers at the site to date.
  • Establishing a Crane and Rigging Inspection Task Force to identify hazards and ensure corrective measures are taken, resulting in a significant reduction in these hazards at the site.
  • Participating with contractors at the site to conduct job hazard analyses of unique operations to identify hazardous operations at the site and recommend ways to abate or reduce the hazards involved.
  • Initiating an effort to identify hazards associated with compressed gas cylinders and oxygen tube trailers and ensure corrective measures are taken, resulting in a dramatic reduction in these hazards at the site.
Site Safety and Health Coordination
  • Initiating the World Trade Center Emergency Project Partnership to promote cooperation and unified support for safety and health at the site among contractors, employees, employee representatives, and federal, state, and city agency representatives participating in the recovery operation.
  • Provided full-time staffing at the New York City Office of Emergency Management Emergency Operation Center to exert leadership on safety and health issues and maximize coordination and information sharing among federal, state, and city agencies involved in the effort.
  • Sponsoring weekly meetings with prime and sub-contractors and co-Incident Commander representatives at the site to discuss and resolve existing or potential safety and health issues.
With these efforts, OSHA has observed a dramatic decrease in serious hazards at the site.

Tremendous progress has been made in identifying and abating serious hazards, but OSHA's job is far from completed. The agency's goal is to ensure that all participants in the operation remain vigilant in maintaining the health and safety of workers at the site. OSHA and its partners are committed to achieving that mission.

OSHA Facts
Number of OSHA personnel involved in the emergency project
More than 1,000
OSHA personnel currently working at the site every day
Number of OSHA eight-hour shifts worked at the site
More than 11,000
Number of air and bulk samples taken by OSHA at the site
(includes metals, asbestos, silica, and other volatile organic compounds)
About 5,300
Respirators issued by OSHA since September 13
Approximately 121,000
Respirators issued per day by OSHA during first weeks after the attack
Hard hats distributed by OSHA since September 13
More than 11,200
Safety glasses and goggles distributed by OSHA since September 13
More than 11,800
Pairs of protective gloves distributed by OSHA since September 13
More than 21,000


WTC SITE 101,716


09/13/01- 09/20/01 4000 resp x 8 days 32,000
09/21/01- 10/02/01 2600 resp x 12 days 31,200
10/03/01- 10/08/01 1440 resp x 6 days 8,640
10/09/01- 10/31/01 1000 resp x 23 days 23,000
11/01/01- 11/30/01 2000 fit test Vallen 2,000
12/01/01- 01/20/02 2000 fit test OSHA 2,000
01/21/02- 02/13/02 806 fit test OSHA 806 (amended 2/22)
02/14/02- 02/28/02 372 fit test OSHA 372
03/01/02- 03/07/02 250 fit test OSHA 250
03/08/02- 03/14/02 210 fit test OSHA 210
03/15/02- 03/17/02 141 fit test OSHA 141
03/18/02- 03/24/02 182 fit test OSHA 182
03/25/02- 04/01/02 217 fit test OSHA 217
04/02/02- 04/08/02 349 fit test OSHA 349
04/09/02- 04/15/02 194 fit test OSHA 194
04/16/02- 04/22/02 87 fit test OSHA 87
04/23/02- 04/29/02 68 fit test OSHA 68
TOTAL: 101,716
TOTAL OSHA Fit Tests: 4,979
FDNY Fit Tests: 2,671
09/18/01- 09/29/01 1000resp x 12days 12,000
09/30/01- 10/31/01 360resp x 32days 11,520
11/01/01- 11/04/01 50resp x 4days 200
TOTAL: 23,720
09/24/01- 10/16/01 200resp x 23days 4,600
TOTAL: 4,600
Hard Hats 11,200+
Glasses 13,000+
Gloves 21,200+