HazMat Safety & Training
Worker Education and Training Program
Joseph T. Hughes Jr, M.P.H.
A Network Responds
On the evening of April 20, 2010, a tragic explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 workers. It was not discovered until April 24 that oil was leaking from the well pipe approximately a mile on the sea floor spewing out an estimated 5,000 barrels per day. Immediately the Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) went to work creating training tools to prepare workers for cleanup activities that lay ahead. On May 2 the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) WETP staff along with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) met with the Unified Command in Robert and Houma Louisiana to lend assistance and support to one of the most disastrous oils spills in the history of the petroleum industry. Through the use of the WETP Emergency Support Activation Plan, the WETP and its awardees began mobilizing their experienced national network of worker safety and health experts, trainers, and support staff to assist in the recovery of the Gulf coast. This network gained much of its experience from the responses to Hurricane Katrina, the World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, and the anthrax terrorist attacks. During the ensuing years, through the evaluation of the lessons they had learned, this little known network had developed mechanisms for getting needed safety and health resources into the field: teams of trainers and subject matter experts, printed training materials, on-line electronic learning tools, personal protective equipment and other training supplies, tailored training to reach underserved minority workers, and even useful 'extras' such as safety awareness "podcasts" - audio training tips available through easy download to trainers in the field.
This network is the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) and its 20 awardee organizations. The WETP supports the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response. WETP is a federally funded program administered by the Division of Extramural Research & Training (DERT) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) .
The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health and the NIEHS, is a signatory to the National Response Plan (NRP). Upon the activation of the National Response Plan NIEHS may be activated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the NRP's Worker Safety Health Annex to provide:
- Training technical assistance such as instructional staff, curriculum development experts, subject-matter experts, and professional staff.
- Safety training to worker target populations with respect to the nature and location of the incident and the particular hazards.
- Assistance and support in the development and delivery of site-specific health and safety training through appropriately qualified WETP awardee instructional staff.
- Assistance such as respirator fit-testing and distribution of personal protective equipment.
Resources Reaching the Health and Safety Community
The National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health is funded by the NIEHS WETP and is the primary national source for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news. Please check out the National Clearinghouse resources and our National Clearinghouse Newsbrief, our free weekly electronic newsletter focusing on the world of worker health and safety.
Grants Technical Assistant
Tel (919) 541-0303
Fax (919) 541-0462
Sharon D. Beard, M.S.
Tel (919) 541-1863
Fax (301) 451-5595
Jim Remington, R.N.
Tel (919) 541-0035
Fax (301) 480-2924