OSHA Responds to Gulf Coast Cleanup with New Guidelines

December 15, 2005

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington D.C., announced a new safety and health guidance document, posted today on their Web site. The OSHA document will help workers and employers in determining whether an activity would be considered an “emergency response” activity under the Hazardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response HAZWOPER standard.

According to the Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OHSA Jonathan L. Snare, numberous inquiries have been received from workers involved in cleanup and recovery operatons along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The questions involve whether the clean-up activities met the requirements of HAZWOPER.

HAZWOPER applies to employers and workers who might be exposed to hazardous substances while working in specific emergency operations where the release of specific substances could pose a serious threat.

According to Snare, the document posted to the Web site today was developed to provide another resource for workers and employers who may be exposed to hazardous substances, as well as to answer specific questions coming from the Gulf Coast operations.

The OSHA guide provides an overview and is divided into two sections: The Application of HAZWOPER to Worksite Response and Cleanup Activities and Employee Training for Worksite Response and Cleanup Activities. Each section provides information and guidance to help with appropriate responses.

In addition, OSHA has included flowcharts in the document for easy reference and to help outline what compliance pathway workers should follow in their worksite environment. There is a question and answer format to clarify which OSHA standards will be enforced.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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