OSHA Resuming Regular Enforcement Along Most of Gulf Coast

OSHA says it will resume regular enforcement of job safety and health standards throughout much of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

As of Jan. 25, normal enforcement will be conducted throughout Florida and Alabama, in Mississippi north of Interstate 10 and in Louisiana except in seven parishes in and around New Orleans.

Following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, OSHA exempted a number of counties and parishes in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana from regular enforcement status. OSHA says the exemption allowed agency staff to provide faster and more flexible responses to hazards facing workers involved in the cleanup and recovery.

Thousands of crews and individual workers received job safety and health technical assistance, according to OSHA. The agency limited inspections to cases involving fatalities, catastrophic accidents or complaints.

"We're now able to resume normal operations in several of the impacted areas where recovery while still ongoing has progressed more fully than other areas," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan Snare. "For the New Orleans area and south of Interstate 10 in Mississippi, we will continue to provide technical assistance to employers and workers by providing advice and information on hazards and the use of personal protective equipment and other safety measures. However, we will continue our traditional enforcement policy in response to employee complaints, major injuries or fatalities."

Worker safety and health information is available by calling (866) 4-USA-DOL or by visiting the Department of Labor's Web site and clicking on the hurricane recovery page, or from OSHA's Web page.

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