OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
National News Release
Friday, November 16, 2001
Contact: Stuart Roy
Phone: (202) 693-4676
OSHA to Help Employers Assess Risk
WASHINGTON -- Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced a new model to assist employers and employees in dealing with possible workplace exposures to anthrax in mail handling operations today. The Anthrax Matrix guides employers in assessing risk to their workers, providing appropriate protective equipment and specifying safe work practices for low, medium and high risk levels in the workplace.
"Most employers and employees face little or no risk of exposure to anthrax and need only minimal precautions," Chao said. "But some may have to deal with potential or known exposures, and we want to make sure they have all possible information available to protect Americans at their workplace."
Chao pointed out that there have been only four deaths and 17 confirmed cases of anthrax infection but indicated that the department wants to be proactive in assisting employers and workers concerned about anthrax and other potential terrorist threats.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration developed the matrix in consultation with the U.S. Postal Service, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI. OSHA expects to continually update information on anthrax and other terrorism threats as new guidance becomes available.
"The OSHA information is easy to access and understand," Chao said. "We are providing needed guidance, not creating new requirements. The world has changed since September 11. Threats to our national security now can clearly involve the workplace."
John L. Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA said, "OSHA's role remains the same - assuring the safety and health of America's workers - but the paradigm has shifted. We must shift with it to provide the best possible guidance to help employers and employees address new threats."
The Anthrax Matrix, shaped like a pyramid, includes three sections: green for low, yellow for medium and red for high risk of exposure. Each section links to useful information and practical guidance to help determine an appropriate response.
The matrix is available on OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. There is also general information on anthrax and mail handling procedures on the agency's website, links to detailed information from CDC, the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI and other sources of information on biological and chemical hazards and emergency preparedness.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this 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 202-693-7773 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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