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Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance: NIOSH Seeks Comment on Draft Recommendations


February 1, 2011
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 245-0645

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today invited public comment on a draft document titled, “Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance.” This document was developed by a consortium of federal agencies, state health departments, and volunteer organizations, headed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health with the goal of proposing a more comprehensive and systematic approach to worker safety and health for all emergency responders.

The set of guidelines and recommendations described in the document is the result of the collaborative efforts of the workgroup. When final, it is expected that this document will serve as an interagency resource that is intended for review and possible publication by the National Response Team.

“The gaps in our ability to ensure the safety and health of all workers involved in large scale and complex emergency responses have been documented through our responses to the World Trade Center disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and most recently, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This document is the result of our shared learning from these events and our combined commitment to protect those workers who respond in times of need.”

This draft document proposes a new framework for ensuring responder safety and health by monitoring and conducting surveillance of their health and safety during the entire cycle of emergency response, including the pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment phases of a response. The proposed system is referred to as the “Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)” system, and includes a guidance section describing the principles involved in ensuring optimal responder safety and health, as well as tools which can be utilized to help facilitate the execution of these principles during an actual response.

The draft document is available at for written public comment until April 5, 2011.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. It was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information about NIOSH can be found at