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Cyrus Dugger

3 Months Remain for 9/11-Related Workers’ Compensation Program

From NYCOSH:

3 Months Remain for 9/11-Related Workers’ Compensation Program; Out of at Least 100,000 Eligible, Fewer than 14,000 Have Registered

May 14, 2007

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
Press Release

Contact: Jonathan Bennett New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health 212-227-6440 x 14

Time is running out for people to register to preserve the right to file for 9/11-related workers’ compensation.

Only three months remain until the final registration deadline of August 14, 2007.

At least 100,000 workers and volunteers who performed any rescue, recovery or cleanup work in the vicinity of the World Trade Center are eligible to register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. But fewer than 14,000 have done so.

For an excellent indication of the importance of 9/11-related disease, see the front page of this morning's New York Times: "Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy," at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/14/nyregion/14giuliani.html. For a compendium of articles concerning the national scope of the problem, see below.

There is no residency or citizenship requirement to register with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board for 9/11-related compensation. If a worker or volunteer is eligible, it does not matter where he or she now lives. Immigration status—whether documented or not—does not affect a person’s eligibility status. If people continue to register at the current rate—approximately one thousand per month—tens of thousands of eligible people will miss the opportunity. People can go to www.nycosh.org to learn about the eligibility requirements and registration procedure. They can also call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline, 1-866-WTC-2556.

The law applies to most people who performed any rescue, recovery or cleanup work, no matter how briefly, either paid or unpaid, in lower Manhattan south of Canal or Pike Streets between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 12, 2002. It also applies to those who worked at the Staten Island landfill, the barge operation between Manhattan and Staten Island or the New York City morgue (or any of the temporary morgues set up during that period).

According to New York City’s official estimate, more than 21,000 people have developed physical or mental disorders as a result of their exposure to toxic substances and psychologically traumatic experiences in the aftermath of the World Trade Center’s collapse. Right now, hundreds more are experiencing new-onset 9/11-related symptoms each month. No one knows how many more who are now healthy will become sick, or when they will first develop symptoms.

Workers and volunteers who do not register by August 14 will not be eligible to file a claim even if they develop a 9/11-related physical or mental illness in the future.

Any eligible person who registers will have the right to file a 9/11-related workers’ compensation at any time in the future, no matter when 9/11-related symptoms occur. When a claim for a 9/11-related disorder is established, workers’ compensation pays 100 percent of the cost of treatment, including prescriptions and hospitalization.

People who performed any rescue, recovery or cleanup work after 9/11 are living in every state and in many other countries. Many of them are unaware that they are at risk of developing 9/11-related disorders. Many are also unaware that by registering before August 14, they can protect their right to free healthcare if they ever develop a 9/11-related illness.

To request an interview with a worker or volunteer who developed an illness as a result of 9/11-related exposures, contact Jonathan Bennett at 212-227-6440 x 14.

"Thousands worked in the toxic brew of the World Trade Center’s dust and fumes," said Joel Shufro, who is on the board of directors of the executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and is also executive director of one of the National Council's consitutent organizations, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. "Now, these same people are scattered across the country and to a lesser extent the world, unaware that they may qualify for 9/11-related workers’ compensation. They must register, and they need to help let others know."

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is a federation of 22 local and statewide COSH groups -- Committees/Coalitions on Occupational Safety and Health. COSH groups are private, non-profit coalitions of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety. In collaboration with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the National Council is conducting a campaign to notify thousands of workers and volunteers who will miss the registration deadline because they do not know they are at risk and that they have an opportunity to register.

For more information about the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, visit http://www.coshnetwork.org/.

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