The Anthrax Matrix, introduced Friday by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, is a new model designed to assist employers and employees deal with possible workplace exposures to anthrax in mail handling operations.

The 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.

Shaped like a pyramid, the Anthrax Matrix, which is available on OSHA's Web site at, includes three sections: green for low risk of exposure, yellow for medium and red for high. Each section links to useful information and practical guidance to help determine an appropriate response.

OSHA 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 (EPA) and the FBI.

Chao noted that there have been four deaths and 17 confirmed cases of anthrax infections, but said most employers and employees face little or no risk of exposure to anthrax. She indicated that the department wants to be proactive in assisting employers and workers concerned about anthrax and other potential terrorist threats.