There have been only a handful of injuries - and none that are life threatening - among rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster, according to Patricia Clark, OSHA''s regional administrator for New York.
Clark was interviewed Nov. 28, after speaking at the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health in Washington, DC.
Clark said reports that there have been thousands of injuries at the WTC site were misleading, as they were based not on OSHA injury and illness recording criteria, but on New York City Department of Health guidelines.
She said according to the city''s criteria, every time an article of personal protective equipment is handed out, or minor first aid is administered, it counts as an "injury."
"The number of people who have been hospitalized is under 10," Clark said.
OSHA''s response to the WTC recovery effort exemplifies the new philosophy of OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, who has emphasized a cooperative approach with employers.
OSHA staff members are on site 24 hours a day, but they are not enforcing standards, acting instead as advisors, and this has raised concern among some observers who worry that OSHA is not doing enough to protect workers.
In late November Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced a partnership with the City of New York contractors and other organizations to protect the safety and health of thousands of workers at the WTC disaster site.
The partnership agreement outlines a cooperative effort to ensure a safe work environment, including a new site orientation training program and establishment of a safety committee that includes representatives from labor, management, OSHA, and other agencies. For more information about the partnership, see Occupationalhazards.com article "New Partnership Benefits Rescue Workers."
by James Nash