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A Call to the NY Media: Save the Volunteers!

Volunteers sifting WTC debris at Fresh Kills landfill

by Jonathan Bennett

I am writing to ask your assistance in publicizing a change in New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Law which will allow workers and volunteers who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean up efforts after 9/11 to register to preserve the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits.

As you know, many people traveled from all over the U.S. to New York City after 9/11 to work or volunteer in the rescue, recovery and cleanup effort. Now tens of thousands of 9/11 responders are experiencing or are at risk of disease or post-traumatic disorders resulting from their exposures and experiences. Fortunately, their right to file for workers’ compensation will now be protected, as a result of a New York State law that went into effect on August 14. The law applies to the vast majority of 9/11 responders,, including volunteers, even those who are now healthy, but workers and volunteers must register before next Aug. 14 to establish their permanent eligibility.

NYCOSH (the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health), in collaboration with World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, the Laborers’ Health and Safety Trust Fund, Balcony, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, the United Church of Christ's National Disaster Ministries and workers’ compensation law firms, is trying to get this word out to workers and volunteers from all over the country.

It is imperative that everyone who is eligible to register receives information about this program before it’s too late. Anyone who does not register before the August 14, 2007 deadline – and who later develops a 9/11-related disease or disorder – will have missed an opportunity to have all medical expenses for the treatment of that condition covered by workers' compensation.

You are in a uniquely important position to make post-9/11 workers and volunteers aware of the program by placing an article in your newsletter, magazine or by send the story to your email list.

Pasted below is a short article that is an introduction to the new compensation program for post-9/11 workers and volunteers. For a formatted version of the article, go to New law provides benefits for 9/11 workers and volunteers: Registration open for a year. Or go to an even shorter version of the same article. The articles are not copyright and can be revised in any way and put to any appropriate use.

In the last paragraph of the articles there is a Internet link to the NYCOSH website where you can find detailed information (in English and Spanish) about the program. We will soon be posting the same information in Polish. Other translations are in the works.

If you would like to receive occasional updates about news concerning resources for treating and compensating those with 9/11-related health effects, please let me know by email. My contact information is pasted below the article.

I hope you can help.

For more information about 9/11-related disease, which in many cases is not recognized as such, visit Clinical Guidelines for Physicians Treating Adults Exposed to the World Trade Center Disaster on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's website.

Jonathan Bennett is Public Affairs Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health


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