New NIEHS Effort Would Protect ’Forgotten Responders’

Sat September 20, 2003 - West Edition
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The National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training will join the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) in promoting the efforts of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and its Director Dr. Kenneth Olden, to protect construction workers who respond to disasters, the “forgotten responders.”

CPWR has created a new training program launched Sept. 10. CPWR is working closely with OSHA to expand the use of this training. OSHA is developing a comprehensive train-the-trainer program to be offered through all of its regional training centers.

CPWR’s DVD-based course, Disaster Response: Safety and Health Training for Construction Workers, was introduced to 50 master building trades’ union trainers from around the country on Sept. 11 and 12.

CPWR, an arm of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, developed the course in cooperation with unions, employers, and government partners. In October, the master trainers will begin to train 4,000 OSHA-authorized outreach instructors, who, in turn, will train thousands of construction workers nationwide.

In a related development, the 2003 NIEHS supplemental award recipients are set to be announced. This will be the second round of grants awarded by NIEHS after Sept. 11, 2001, to train a broad range of workers to safely respond to disaster, including construction workers. Many new training courses have been established and thousands of workers have been trained thanks to NIEHS leadership, including the workers at the World Trade Center cleanup.

“NIEHS and OSHA are forging closer ties in the important work of protecting construction workers who get called to help with rescue and recovery operations. Despite the concerns with biological and chemical threats, the overwhelming majority of terrorist actions have been explosive devices, which means heavy equipment operators, iron workers, carpenters, laborers, and other skilled trades are often needed immediately to move debris to free survivors. We need to be sure these critical responders — often the forgotten responders — are adequately protected in their efforts,” said Dr. Bruce Lippy, Director of the National Clearinghouse.

“This specific population of workers deserves timely training, which was not the case at the World Trade Center cleanup where the construction workers received three hours of awareness training three months after the attacks. We’re incredibly proud that NIEHS, through the CPWR, has produced a program for construction workers that can be delivered quickly through a national network of seasoned trainers. This is a powerful training tool with a proven delivery system,” Dr. Lippy concluded.

About the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training

The National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training is the centralized distribution point through which members of the worker education and training community can access technical documents and workshop reports, safety and health update information, and curricula produced by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) awardees.

About the NIEHS WETP

The NIEHS WETP was created in 1987 by Congress as part of the Superfund Program to support the development of a network of non-profit organizations that are committed to protecting workers and their communities by creating and delivering high-quality, peer-reviewed safety and health curricula to target populations of hazardous waste workers and emergency responders. Through NIH grants, the WETP awards cooperative agreements to support the development of curricula and training programs throughout the country to help employers meet OSHA requirements under 29 CFR 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

For more information, visit www.wetp.org.