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Oil spill prompts worker safety and health response from CDC

Following the Silvertip pipeline oil spill in Montana in July, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement addressing the health and safety of workers who are part of clean-up crews, and offered helpful resources on the best ways to handle oil spills.

Because oil spill clean-up efforts can be very dangerous, the CDC stated that workers and volunteers need to be aware of the hazards and risks involved and the proper safety precautions that need to be taken.

Workers may see hazards such as heat and cold stress, chemicals, and musculoskeletal hazards. The CDC responded by offering online resources intended to help employers and workers prepare for oil-spill response activities, and to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

One way that workers can assess the risks involved in an oil spill clean-up is to contact the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which will run a health hazard evaluations program at no cost via phones and writing, or performed on-site.

The CDC also states that safety products are "very important for any emergency responder," respirators, protective clothing, gloves, and eye protection are some of the most important.