November 4, 2021

Fact Sheet Collects Resources on Protecting Workers During Disaster Response

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ (NIEHS) Worker Training Program (WTP) has published a fact sheet (PDF) outlining the program’s participation in disaster response and recovery over its 30-year history. WTP supports response efforts related to natural and manmade disasters and public health emergencies by providing grant funding to nonprofit organizations that develop health and safety training resources. The fact sheet collects links to training tools and other resources intended to help occupational and environmental health and safety professionals and others ensure the safety and health of workers in the aftermath of disasters.

Since WTP’s establishment under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, originally for the purpose of training workers involved in activities related to hazardous materials and waste, more than four million emergency response and hazardous waste cleanup workers have received training from programs funded by WTP. The new fact sheet summarizes WTP’s involvement in responding to major disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic; the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak; hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Sandy, Katrina, and Rita; the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; the Japan and Haiti earthquakes of 2011 and 2010, respectively; and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Through WTP, NIEHS provides technical support for developing site-specific health and safety training, training for target worker populations, training regarding mental health and stress, and other assistance in the form of respirator fit testing and distributing personal protective equipment. WTP’s National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training also develops and maintains training resources for disasters and public health emergencies.

More information on WTP and its resources can be found on the program’s website. For additional resources on disaster response, visit AIHA’s Disaster Response Resource Center.