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Policy set to protect oil spill cleanup workers as heat rises along the Gulf (6/10)

June 10, 2010
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To protect the health and safety of Gulf oil spill cleanup workers amid rising summer temperatures, the Unified Area Command has established a policy requiring all on-shore and near-shore cleanup workers to follow a work/rest cycle to ensure their safety and well-being — which is determined based on the heat index, type of work being performed and required protective clothing.

In addition, cleanup workers must be provided with plenty of water and encouraged to hydrate regularly.

OSHA continues to monitor cleanup work for over-exposures to toxic substances. Thus far, OSHA has stated that cleanup workers do not need to wear respirators.

US Representatives James Oberstar and Jerrold Nadler have demanded that Gulf response and recovery workers be provided with respirators (among other protective equipment). Last week OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said that based on test results so far, cleanup workers are receiving "minimal" exposure to airborne toxins. OSHA will require that BP provide certain protective clothing, but not respirators. At least for now.

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