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OSHA Investigating Lack Of Protective Gear For Some Sandy Clean-Up Workers

Worker cleaning up at Lillian Wald Houses in the Lower East Side Dec. 3, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Worker cleaning up at Lillian Wald Houses in the Lower East Side Dec. 3, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As the clean-up effort continues in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, some concerns have surfaced over a lack of proper tools and protective gear for workers.

The union that represents 8,000 New York City Housing Authority workers refused to do the Sandy clean-up without proper training and equipment.

WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reports

Teamsters Local 237 president Greg Floyd said the health impacts after Sept. 11 taught an important lesson in the use of protective gear.

“We don’t want to see the situation happen again, we should learn from it,” Floyd told WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond. “We’re concerned about the long-term effects because when you don’t properly clean an area, the mold and the chemicals still exist.”

At the Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side, workers in protective suits, boots and masks were on hand cleaning up.

“Actually, we have all our gear and everything…we have everything we need,” a worker told Diamond. “I don’t think Housing would let us into the apartments if we didn’t have what we needed.”

“She has a mask on, all my people have masks. They have gear, they have gloves, they have everything protected,” another worker said.

A resident of the Lillian Wald Houses said he was hired by outside company BelchorĀ for $28 an hour to do contracting work.

“Even though I said to them I have my own, they did say that they were going to provide for us. That’s why I’m even coming to work because if there’s no equipment, I’m not working,” Julio Ramos told Diamond.

But another resident said he has seen many workers cleaning up Sandy debrisĀ in regular work clothes.

“They actually weren’t wearing any protective gear at all, not at all,” Samuel Diaz told Diamond.

Diaz was offered a contracting job cleaning up storm debris but said he declined over health worries.

“Because of what happened at the World Trade Center, you don’t know, two or three years from now you might end up with cancer. Cancer? I wouldn’t even bother. They would have to give me a Mars suit or something,” added Diaz.

A NYCHA spokesperson said they expect outside contractors to follow proper safety procedures.

The New York office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is investigating claims from some workers hired by an outside contractor for $28 an hour that they did not receive equipment or training, Diamond reported.

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