OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
National News Release: 05-1818-NAT
Date: September 23, 2005
Contact: Pamela Groover or Al Belsky
Phone: (202) 693-4676 (202) 693-1999
WASHINGTON -- Before Hurricane Rita makes landfall, the Department of Labor's Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) response teams are in Texas and informing workers and employers of ways to avoid injury and illnesses associated with cleanup and recovery efforts after the storm passes.
"As communities recover from hurricane damage, OSHA teams will be on the ground to make sure that damaged facilities and infrastructure will be repaired and brought back on-line in a safe and healthy way," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "OSHA has issued public service announcements and dispatched teams of professionals to the region to provide critical safety and health assistance to state and local officials, utilities and petrochemical facilities."
OSHA's Region VI Regional Response Team has been dispatched to South Texas where they are providing technical assistance to the petrochemical industry on shutdown-related safety and health issues. Advance arrangements also are being made with utility companies to do post-storm safety briefings as needed.
Hurricane-related job safety and health fact sheets have been distributed in the region and OSHA professionals in the area are ready to respond to safety and health issues facing recovery workers. OSHA has also identified home supply and construction stores to distribute safety and health fact sheets and materials to South Texas. Public service announcements have been issued to the Gulf Coast region to inform workers about hazards related to restoration and cleanup. These PSAs may be downloaded from DOL's Hurricane Recovery Web page at www.dol.gov, and from OSHA's Web page at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/hurricaneRecovery.html.
"OSHA teams are on the ground to focus on major worker safety and health issues as they arise," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan L. Snare. "We also have OSHA experts on hand in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Joint Field Office in Austin, Texas, to provide technical assistance."
FEMA has expanded its Joint Field Office operation in Austin in anticipation of Rita and the OSHA area director as well as several staff members will be present.
After Hurricane Katrina made landfall, FEMA activated the Worker Safety and Health Support Annex under the National Response Plan. The annex describes actions needed to ensure that threats to responder safety and health are anticipated, recognized, evaluated and controlled consistently so that responders are properly protected during incident management operations. OSHA was charged with coordinating technical support for federal responder and federal contractor safety and health during cleanup and recovery operations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
For more information on the DOL response to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita please visit the Department's Hurricane Recovery Web page at www.dol.gov or call 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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