Report: OSHA Should Develop Safety Regulations for Response to Terrorist Attacks

A report recently released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) calls on the federal government to better protect workers against hazards such as those they faced during the emergency response and cleanup of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Rescue and other workers suffered needless injuries—particularly to the eyes and lungs—due to deficiencies in protection, the report says. The report summarizes the findings of an NIEHS technical workshop attended by national experts involved with those providing the emergency response and cleanup around weapons of mass destruction in the recent terrorist attacks. 

The report lists several recommendations to improve preparedness for any future events of similar magnitude, including: • First-on-the-scene emergency response personnel should be provided with appropriate protective gear—particularly respiratory protection—and should train in the gear as well. • OSHA should develop safety regulations tailored to the challenges of large terrorist events. • OSHA should update the policy under which it operates in declared disasters and become an active participant in the National Terrorism Preparedness Program. The report “Learning from Disasters: Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness through Worker Training” is available as a PDF at
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