NIOSH Seeks Comment on Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance Recommendations

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) invites public comment on “Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance,” a draft document developed by a consortium of federal agencies, state health departments and volunteer organizations to propose a more comprehensive, systematic approach to worker safety and health for emergency responders.

The set of guidelines and recommendations described in the document is the result of the collaborative efforts of the workgroup, which was headed by NIOSH. When final, this document is expected to serve as an interagency resource that is intended for review and possible publication by the National Response Team.

“The gaps in our ability to ensure the safety and health of all workers involved in large scale and complex emergency responses have been documented through our responses to the World Trade Center disaster, Hurricane Katrina and, most recently, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This document is the result of our shared learning from these events and our combined commitment to protect those workers who respond in times of need.”

This draft document proposes a new framework for ensuring responder safety and health by monitoring and conducting surveillance of health and safety during the entire cycle of emergency response, including the pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment phases of a response. The proposed system is referred to as the “Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)” system, and includes a guidance section describing the principles involved in ensuring optimal responder safety and health, as well as tools that can be utilized to help facilitate the execution of these principles during an actual response.

The draft document is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/review/docket223/ for written public comment until April 4.

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