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Your Environment. Your Health.

Safety and Training of Oil Spill Response Workers

NIEHS Oil Spill Response Training Tool

This Training Tool is an awareness-level health and safety resource for those who are working to clean up the oil. This tool will help workers understand at an awareness level: what an oil spill is, characteristics of an oil spill response, and how to identify and control hazards pertaining to the response and cleanup activities associated with an oil spill.

More than 5,000 pocket-sized booklets titled "Safety And Health Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers" have been distributed to instructors, safety officials, front-line responders participating in the BP Vessels Of Opportunity Program, and beach workers in the Shoreline Cleanup assessment Team. The booklets also have been printed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Document TitleBooklet/Poster
as PDF
PowerPoint Version
Booklet: NIEHS Oil Spill Cleanup Initiative: Safety Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers (ENGLISH) PDF BOOKLET(2.9 MB) Microsoft PowerPoint(6.7 MB)
Iniciativa de Limpieza del Derrame de Petróleo: Seguridad y Concienciación de Salud para Trabajadores de Limpieza de Derrames de Petróleo (SPANISH)
PDF BOOKLET(1.6 MB) Microsoft PowerPoint(6 MB)
NIEHS Oil Spill Cleanup Initiative: Safety Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers (VIETNAMESE) PDF BOOKLET(2.9 MB)  Microsoft PowerPoint(6 MB)


With USAID's support, workers clean up oil spill along Lebanon's coast in 2006.
With USAID's support, workers clean up oil spill along Lebanon's coast in 2006.

Protecting the health and safety of the workers cleaning up the oil spill is a top priority for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The NIEHS is well positioned to help lead the oil spill response training efforts. For the past 24 years, the NIEHS has been administering the national Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) to provide safety training to emergency responders and the hazardous materials workforce.

Oil Leak from Damaged Well in Gulf of Mexico,  Posted April 27, 2010
Oil Leak from Damaged Well in Gulf of Mexico, Posted April 27, 2010

Through the WETP, the NIEHS was able to provide nearly immediate assistance to the oil spill response and to protecting the health of oil spill workers after the explosion occurred on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, in the Gulf of Mexico in April, 2010.

The WETP program director, Chip Hughes, was on site within days of this platform explosion. Hughes and his team have had a continuous presence in the Gulf Coast and have been working with Coast Guard and BP officials, as well as local and state officials, academic institutions, and other federal agencies to provide worker safety training.

If workers have health related questions about the oil spill, call your local Poison Control Center at 1(800) 222-1222. Poison Control Centers offer free, confidential services 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are staffed by medically trained professionals. If workers encounter a hazardous working condition, contact 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 1-877-889-5627.

Training Courses

Two different levels of training for oil spill workers have been developed and supported by NIEHS.

  • 40-hour Training Course on Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. This is commonly known as HAZWOPER training. This is part of our regular, ongoing worker training offered through NIEHS and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This extensive training is now being delivered to supervisors and individuals who will likely have direct contact with oil spill products. More than 1,000 people in the Gulf Coast region have completed the HAZWOPER training.
  • Short 2 and 4-hour training courses on Safety and Health Awareness. The NIEHS, together with OSHA, helped develop several short educational courses, including some online training, which focus on the necessary hazard awareness and safety training for all oil spill workers hired by BP. This training is provided to individuals who will have minimal contact oil with spill products.

These courses provide training on safe work practices, personal protective equipment, decontamination, heat stress and other common hazards for cleanup work. The training is being paid for and administered by BP. As of June 29, 2010, according to BP approximately 49,948 people throughout the Gulf Coast had completed these short training courses.

NIEHS Environmental/Chemical Exposures Awareness Flyers


NIEHS Presentations on the Oil Spill

Broader NIEHS-wide Efforts

In addition to the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program, other activities at NIEHS are ongoing.

The NIEHS is hosting a series of webinars on the Gulf Longterm Follow-up (GuLF) Study -- a health study of oil spill workers and volunteers - in order to obtain input from the Gulf region community and research stakeholders on the design this study following the recent Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Federal Oil Spill Resources

This page includes information from federal and other sources intended to protect the health and safety of workers cleaning up the spill. Please check back often as we will continue to update this page with the most current information.

Oily hand wearing glove

Other Oil Spill Resources

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