9/11 Mistakes Repeated in Sandy Clean-up, Say Worker Health Advocates

It’s been widely reported that in the post-9/11 rush to rescue victims and clear rubble, recovery workers’ health and safety were compromised. Under President Bush, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) relaxed enforcement of workplace safety rules during the clean-up. Many workers were not properly trained in how to use the respirators that are essential health safeguards for those handling toxic debris. The result was disastrous: Thousands of ground zero workers needed treatment for respiratory illnesses, cancers and other health problems linked to their 9/11 clean-up work. Now, in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, In These Times has heard from unions, workplace safety activists and a former OSHA official that corporations and federal, state and local governments are repeating the mistakes of 9/11. Again, OSHA is operating in a reduced enforcement state known as “compliance assistance mode,” in which the agency warns employers about safety problems...

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