OSHA Participates in 2007 TOPOFF 4 Exercise

OSHA and its Oregon and Arizona State Plan partners participated in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2007 Top Officials (TOPOFF) 4 exercise, which began on Oct. 15 in Portland, Ore., Phoenix, Ariz. and the U.S. Territory of Guam. The full-scale exercise involved DHS and other federal agencies, as well as state and local responders.

The goal of the exercise was to demonstrate and evaluate short-, medium- and long-term response, recovery and remediation procedures for simulated multi-point terrorist attacks involving radiological dispersal devices, or “dirty bombs.”

“We are confident OSHA's and the state plan partners' active participation ensures that individuals involved in emergency response and recovery operations will be provided the appropriate resources to effectively address operational risk,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin Foulke Jr. “In the face of an actual disaster, the goal is to ensure that emergency response workers do not themselves become victims.”

The TOPOFF 4 exercise is intended to enhance the preparedness of all levels of the national response system, specifically for emergencies resulting from weapons of mass destruction. It took place Oct. 15-19 and focused on emergency response and recovery activities related to weapons of mass destruction. The simulation will be followed by a long-term recovery tabletop from Dec. 4-6. The exercise will conclude with a conference to be held from Jan. 15-16, 2008, which will concentrate on resolving national policy issues as a result of the findings gathered during the earlier phases of the program.

The Worker Safety and Health Support Annex has been implemented under the National Response Plan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the response in Guam. OSHA will be working with other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA, to provide technical assistance for employee safety and health during the response. The annex describes actions needed to ensure that threats to responder safety and health are anticipated, recognized, evaluated and controlled consistently so that responders are properly protected during incident management operations. For more information about the annex and the National Response Plan, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/osha_support.html.

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