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The health and safety of thousands of recovery workers at the former site of the World Trade Centre is being compromised by a failure to implement adequate personal protection equipment regulations.

A memo from Bob Adams, the Department of Design and Construction's (DDC) director of environmental health and safety, revealed that worker safety regulations were routinely violated in order to speed up the entire process.

"The overwhelming consensus of many parties . . . is that the safety job is not getting done," Mr Adams said in the memo dated February 13th, 2002.

In defence Kenneth Becker, chief of the city Law Department's WTC unit, said that the city and the federal authorities distributed more than 200,000 respirators to workers, reminding them on a daily basis of how to use them.

However, recently released documents claim that workers were seen repeatedly not wearing the personal protective equipment issued to them, often due to pressure to meet targets.

The records have since been turned over to lawyers working on behalf of 9/11 recovery workers, many of them sick with lung disease, cancer and other ailments.

Minutes from a site meeting dated October 19th, 2001 recorded: "PPE is donned while OSHA is around, then it is not worn when OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is not around". That day "more than 100 persons were counted on the pile not wearing all necessary PPE."

Meanwhile, a memo sent to Mr Adams from fellow staffers on January 13th, 2002 claimed that "as few as 20 percent" of workers within the WTC slurry wall were wearing protective gear.

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