9/11 Notice Act Could See Employers Notifying Former Employees of Toxic Exposure and Benefits

Freedom Tower from the courtyard, with people standing around

Legislators want to ensure New York City civilian employees exposed to toxins during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 know about the benefits they are entitled to, after the state Assembly and Senate unanimously passed a bill requiring employers to inform them.

Assemblyman Nader Sayegh (D-Yonkers) has been working on the 9/11Notice Act since the 20th Anniversary of the attack. He said he was inspired after learning that only a small number of the 400,000 civilian workers with qualifying medical conditions from exposure to toxic dust and fumes had applied for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program. The programs offer monitoring and treatment for World Trade Center-related illnesses free to those meeting the requirements.

The civilian numbers are contrasted by more than 80 percent of first responders who have registered for the federal programs.

Employers’ Required to Inform Employees

Governor Kathy Hochul is set to review the legislation and is expected sign it into law before the 2023 anniversary. Once official, the new law will require business owners who were operating in lower Manhattan and northern Brooklyn on September 11, 2001 to seek and inform employees who worked at Ground Zero on the day of the attack or any time until May 2002 that they may have been exposed to life-altering toxic substances.

Sayegh referred to the downtown office employees, construction workers, students, teachers, doormen, delivery drivers, and retail workers as the forgotten victims who should not have to shoulder outrageous medical bills when government resources are free and available to them. By requiring former or current employers to notify them of these resources, they will get the help they deserve, Sayegh said.

Illnesses Now Manifesting Themselves

Over the past 22 years, The New York Post has reported on numerous cases of students, workers, and first responders who developed cancers and other illnesses linked to the terrorist attack. Some cancers were considered rare, such as men who contracted breast cancer.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) said that about 6,000 people have died from illnesses related to 9/11, more than the 2,977 victims killed directly in the attacks.

Who May be at Risk?

Pretlow broke down the statistics for the 400,000 people exposed to carcinogens at Ground Zero on 9/11 and afterward. He said 57,000 were residents south of Canal Street and 15,000 were teachers, students, and staffers at downtown Manhattan schools, including Stuyvesant High School.

Tommy Steed, who serves as chairman of the Association of BellTel Retirees, with 134,000 members from Verizon, AT&T, and Empire City Subway, described how his members were the ones who restored communications after being called immediately after the tragedy. He explained that there were no cell phone signals and land lines were down. First responders, including state, federal, and regional, had no reliable means of communications. His members restored service, clearing the way for the financial markets to reopen but nobody planned to be exposed to the world’s biggest and most toxic burn pit.

Final Thoughts

Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), representing the district that includes the World Trade Center site and many of its survivors, moved the 9/11 Notice Act through the upper house. He is committed to letting his constituents know they may be eligible for benefits if they are experiencing illnesses they may not even realize are related to 9/11.

Mr. Steed said he won’t forget the smells and chalky dust that enveloped Lower Manhattan after the terrorists crashed their airplanes into the Twin Towers. He said the dust and smells are gone now, but the toxins they emitted still persist.

If you represent individuals who were exposed to toxic fumes on 9/11 – or in any other event – you should contact National Record Retrieval to discuss faster and easier ways to secure patient medical records for your case.