Nearly 180 staff members of OSHA are working around the clock, providing safety and health assistance and handing out thousands of respirators daily to rescue workers at the World Trade Center disaster site.
OSHA is also testing daily for asbestos, silica, lead and other contaminants. According to the agency, test results continue to show no cause for concern in areas immediately surrounding "ground zero" and public areas.
The agency took its first air and bulk samples on Sept. 13. The monitoring program is continuing, according to Pat Clark, OSHA''s New York regional administrator, and now includes air sampling directly at the debris pile.
"We have taken more than 200 air and bulk samples," said Clark. "Though the levels have been consistently safe, it is important that we continue to make sure the sampling continues through the various stages of the operation."
As the rescue efforts extend into the third week, OSHA''s sampling data is being shared with federal, state and local agencies involved in the rescue effort.
Agency staff from other parts of the country are also being sent to New York to help support the effort, including fit-checking and distributing respirators and working with the New York Department of Design and Construction to monitor conditions associated with the use of heavy equipment as well as cutting and burning operations.
Among those working are the 23 members of OSHA''s Manhattan area office who escaped when Building 6 of the World Trade Center, where they were located, was severely damaged.
OSHA has established a temporary area office for Manhattan at its Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., office.
Contact information for the temporary OSHA Manhattan area office is: 500 Route 17 South, 2nd Floor, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. 07604; Tel: (201) 288-1700; Fax: (201) 228-7315.
by Virginia Foran