The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants comments on ˙what action, if any, the agency should take to further address emergency response and preparedness.Ó The deadline for submitting those comments is Dec. 10.

OSHA currently regulates emergency responder safety and health via six standards (on blood-borne pathogens, respiratory-protection, personal protective equipment, HAZMAT responses, confined-space responses and ˙fire brigadesÓ).

˙Some of these standards were promulgated decades ago and none were designed as a comprehensive emergency response standard,Ó said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. in a press release.

OSHA also noted in the Federal Register notice soliciting the comments that, ˙Current OSHA standards also do not reflect all the major improvements in safety and health practices that have already been accepted by the emergency response community.Ó

OSHA will consider preparedness and response to both small- and large-scale incidents, and specially wants comments on PPE, training and qualifications, medical evaluation and health monitoring and safety management.

˙Emergency responders often encounter significant hazards while on the job, and this agency wants to ensure it is doing everything possible to keep these vital employees safe and healthy while at work,Ó Foulke said.

For more information, go to„http://osha.gov and look for Items Open for Comment near the bottom of the page. For more Insider articles, check out„http://www.jems.com/news_and_articles/articles/All_EMS_Insider_Articles.html.

Mannie Garza is editor of the Jems/Elsevier management newsletter EMS Insider.