Louisiana health and environmental officials are asking federal safety officials to make sure workers cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are being protected.
Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine and Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch say that daily reports of injuries and illness have them worried that workers don’t get proper protection. They asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate.
“Reports of injuries and illness among workers hired by British Petroleum and its subcontractors are steadily increasing,” said the letter signed by Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine and Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch.
“We also are receiving daily reports of other injuries and illnesses that have us concerned that proper protections are not being taken and protocols followed,” they wrote, without further details.
The secretaries say BP may bring 3,000 more cleanup workers to Louisiana, and the agencies want to ensure that all get the training, protective equipment and supplies they need.
Doctors in Louisiana hospitals have reported that some cleanup workers have sought treatment for respiratory problems, headaches and nausea.
The Department of Health and Hospitals has begun “an aggressive surveillance and monitoring system to catalog worker-related illnesses and exposure complaints,” the letter said. It asked for a list of worker complaints made to OSHA and the federal agency’s findings.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an order on June 4 to let out-of-state paramedics help with emergency care for oil cleanup workers.
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