OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab was part of a multi-agency
delegation to the gulf on June 1 - 2 on an information-gathering trip
On June 1 and 2nd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Jordan Barab, flew to the gulf for an information-gathering trip to Louisiana where he spoke with oil spill clean-up workers, received a briefing from Unified Command leadership, and reviewed the safety and health protections in place to prevent worker injuries and illnesses. Barab was part of a delegation that included NIOSH Director John Howard, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Nicole Lurie, NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program Director Joseph Hughes, and OSHA staff. OSHA, NIEHS, and NIOSH are on the frontlines of ensuring that workers are protected from hazards.
The group was briefed by OSHA and NIOSH staff in Houma, La and traveled to the Unified Area Command in Robert, La where Federal On-Scene Coordinator Coast Guard Rear Admiral Jim Watson and Coast Guard health and safety staff briefed the delegation on how the unified command was functioning and general worker health issues.
The delegation traveled by Blackhawk helicopter to Port Fourchon, La beach where they observed beach clean-up workers skimming the sand and collecting oil deposits. Barab also traveled to Venice, La, which is a major staging area for BP’s Vessels of Opportunity Program. As part of BP's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program was designed and implemented to provide local boat operators an opportunity to assist with response activities, including transporting supplies, assisting wildlife rescue and deploying containment and absorbent booms. Barab spoke with workers about issues of concern which include making sure workers had received the required protective health and safety training, ensuring that the training was in a language and vocabulary that they could understand, and health concerns, including exposure to chemicals, working in extreme heat and fatigue.