WNYCOSH will mark this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day with an event that brings attention to occupational illness. Every year more than 60,000 workers are killed due to occupational illness and diseases-exposures that happen at work that may appear months or years later. In some cases compensation funds have been established to provide for those workers and their families who have been affected by occupational disease, such as the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for miners. The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund is one of those funds.
The Fund was established in 2001, and reauthorized by Congress in 2010 and 2015. The Fund provides compensation for the thousands of workers and residents who were made sick by the toxins at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA crash sites. The compensation fund is slated to expire next year, despite thousands of claims that may be forthcoming and many claims that have not been resolved. On February 19th, 2019, the Fund announced that they would be cutting the awards by 50% for pending claims and 70% for future claims due to a lack of funding.
Bipartisan legislation has been proposed to permanently reauthorize the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund and to prevent the cuts to compensation awards. As part of our Workers Memorial Day, we are highlighting the stories of workers from the Western New York area who responded to September 11th and whose health has been affected by their exposures to dangerous toxins.