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New Solut. 2008;18(3):329-32. doi: 10.2190/NS.18.3.f.

Protecting disaster site, support, and recovery workers.

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  • 1RICOSH, 741 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903, USA.


When a disaster strikes, FEMA activates the worker safety and health provisions (annex document) of the National Response Plan (NRP). The annex describes actions needed to ensure that threats to safety and health are recognized, evaluated, and controlled consistently so that responders are properly protected during incident management operations. The activation of the Worker Safety and Health Annex gives the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the responsibility to coordinate a comprehensive response involving federal, state, and local agencies and private-sector organizations to ensure the safety and health needs of responders are met. There is confusion, however, as to whether OSHA is acting as an advisory "coordinator" or as an enforcement agency. OSHA personnel at the WTC and the Gulf region reported they were not clear what role they must perform (and the language in the National Response Plan is not explicit). Thus, the need for a clear and comprehensive mandatory program.

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