NIEHS urges safety workers to prepare for Y2K false alarms and malfunctions

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Worker Education and Training Program said today that safety and contamination clean-up workers should make Y2K computer checks to prevent false alarms at the beginning of the Year 2000 -- or the possibility of alarm failures in truly hazardous situations.

But the program said that safety workers should also prepare for some malfunctions to occur anyway -- from alarms that fail to elevators and decontamination equipment that won't work.

NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., said, "This is an effort to assure that everyone has a safe New Year --- especially the chemical workers at hazardous facilities and the emergency responders who will be on duty, for our protection, on New Year's Eve and at the start of the new millennium."

Training Program Director Joseph T. Hughes Jr. said, "Prevention is best but safety teams can also benefit from an awareness that some problems may still slip by."

The NIEHS warnings are part of a new safety awareness handbook, training course and resource materials designed to help workers, employers and emergency responders prepare for potential health and safety risks associated with the Year 2000 computer problem. NIEHS runs the Superfund training of emergency workers within police and fire departments, the transportation industry and elsewhere that are sent to contain spills and establish safety in chemical or nuclear accidents.

The course targets specific risks for workers in a variety of sectors including chemical and industrial facilities, the construction trades, the health care industry, hazardous materials related fields, and emergency response activities. The Y2k awareness materials include a handbook with an overview of who and what the Y2K problem could potentially impact, an update of the state of individual industries' Y2K compliance, an outline of how the problem might effect different workplaces, as

Contact: Tom Hawkins
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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