Emergency response when emotions run high
I know ISHN magazine is quoting reports by other sources (Report says government ignored health risks to Ground Zero cleanup workers), but I know for a fact that OSHA and EPA did extensive air sampling for air contaminants at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center after 9/11. Results of the sampling were posted in the OSHA and EPA web sites.
My former Area Director and several of my former OSHA co-workers were present at Ground Zero conducting the air sampling and providing respirators to the responders. The problem is that many responders, including firefighters, refused to wear the respirators.
I read in an article in a safety magazine that a fire chief told John Henshaw, at the time the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA “We don’t need civilians telling us how to do our work.” A few months later, hundreds of firefighters started complaining about respiratory and other health problems.
I was part of an OSHA team that responded to Louisiana after hurricane Katrina to provide outreach. We did outreach for a full year and reduced to a minimum the number of workers who died from falls.
But we encountered some contractors who refused to implement safety practices claiming they were too expensive and time-consuming. OSHA started enforcement at Katrina sites a year after the hurricane.
By request, an anonymous OSHA compliance assistance specialist