May 17, 2013
The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.
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NIEHS WETP Summer Meeting –Last day to Register!
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) Awardee meeting will take place on June 10, 2013 at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, DC. This year, WETP is participating in a Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)/ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sponsored workshop on Safety Culture, which will also be held at the Omni Shoreham hotel, on June 11-12, 2013. More information can be found on the meeting Web page. Registration for both meetings closes TODAY, May 17th
NIEHS Document on Mold Remediation Now Available
Mold is one of the most widespread hazards that hurricane and disaster clean-up workers are likely to encounter. This guidance was developed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as a health and safety resource for workers, volunteers, and homeowners who will participate in hurricane and disaster response and clean-up activities to help them understand how to identify and control hazards from mold. Trainers may use this guidance to aid in the development of a mold remediation awareness level course or other awareness level materials such as fact sheets and table-top activities.
Fall 2012 WETP Workshop Report Now Available
The final workshop report from the Fall 2012 WETP Workshop entitled 'Prove it Makes a Difference' is now available! The purpose of the Evaluation Workshop was to bring together WETP awardees and others interested in evaluation of worker safety and health training to explore the types of evaluation tools being used by WETP awardees across their training programs, and to look at metrics used by other federal agencies to evaluate training. The primary goal of the workshop was to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to empower participants with increased insight into effective approaches to evaluation.
Important Safeguards Missing From West Fertilizer Company
Whether the West Fertilizer Co. fire began by accident or by arson, a $200 voluntary inspection before the blaze might have told the company how to keep its inventory from exploding. Atop the list of precautions that never were: For about $40,000, the fertilizer warehouse just outside West, Texas might have installed an automatic sprinkler system to kill a fire before it became a blast that killed 15 people.
Dallas Morning News [Author: Randy Lee Loftis]
'Chemicals of Concern' List Still Wrapped in Red Tape
The federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (ORIA) is supposed to review proposed rules within 90 days of receiving them, with the possibility of a single, 30-day extension. That’s four months, maximum. The chemicals of concern list been at OIRA for three years.
Center for Public Integrity [Author: Jim Morris]
North Dakota Number 1 in Worker Death Rate
Half of North Dakota's worker fatalities since 2010 have been in oil and gas occupations, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). North Dakota last year passed Alaska to become the nation's second-leading oil producer.
St. Louis Is Burning
There's a fire burning in Bridgeton, Missouri. It's invisible to area residents, buried deep beneath the ground in a North St. Louis County landfill. But the smoldering waste is an unavoidable presence in town, giving off a putrid odor that clouds the air miles away – an overwhelming stench described by one area woman as "rotten eggs mixed with skunk and fertilizer." Scariest of all: The Bridgeton landfill fire is burning close to at least 8,700 tons of nuclear weapons wastes.
Rolling Stone [Author: Steven Hsieh]
Saving Money with Environmental Regulation
Critics argue that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation is costly to business and the U.S. economy. But a new report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows that the financial benefits of environmental regulation outweigh the costs ten-fold.
Living On Earth [Author: Joe Aldy]
Nations Agree to New Ban on Flame Retardant, Tighter Export Controls on Other Materials
A summit on chemicals and hazardous wastes ended with an agreement to globally phase out a widely used flame retardant and to accept stricter requirements for disclosing information about exports of four other chemicals. But participants fell short in their efforts to require more information and consent among nations trading in a construction material, Chrysotile asbestos, and a formulation of the powerful herbicide, Paraquat, despite support from most of the 169 nations represented at the two-week U.N. summit.
Washington Post [Author: Associated Press]
Connecticut Approves New Waste Storage at Nuclear Plant
The Connecticut Siting Council has approved a request by Millstone nuclear plant to significantly expand nuclear waste storage capacity. The council voted unanimously without discussion to allow Millstone to build concrete pads necessary for an expansion of its waste storage at the Waterford site. As many as 135 dry casks storage units could be installed by 2045. There are 19 now.
Despite 'Urgency,' Obama Black Lung Rule Remains Stalled While Black Lung on the Rise
Top researchers are warning of an increased "sense of urgency" to combat black lung, but the Obama administration is saying little about any progress finalizing a rule it proposed more than 2 1/2 years ago to reduce exposure to the dust that causes the deadly disease. In a new scientific paper, black lung experts outline the growing evidence that black lung is on the rise among Appalachian coal miners and that dust exposure is linked to a broad variety of respiratory problems, including lung cancer and emphysema.
West Virginia Gazette [Author: Ken Ward Jr.]
Individual Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for ID Fraud and Impersonating an OSHA Official
Connie M. Knight, 47, previously of Belle Chasse, La., was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison in New Orleans federal court for providing fraudulent hazardous waste safety training in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. In addition, Ms. Knight was ordered to pay victim restitution in the amount of $25,300.
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PEPH Webinar: Communication Research – May 23, 2012
Communication research has moved beyond the development of educational materials to examinations of the factors involved in communicating complex risk, how information is received, the role of media in (mis)characterizing scientific news, and the social and behavioral aspects of trust and trusted sources of information. In public health settings, communication research also can touch upon disparities in risk communication based on literacy and primary language, variance in risk information seeking and processing based on cultural and occupational contexts, and the characterization of uncertainty such as in hazard mapping of public health risks. This webinar on May 23, 2013 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET will feature three presentations on these topics from: Dr. Gary Kreps, Dr. Matthew Kreuter and Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher
15th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health
The Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health is pleased to announce its 15th International Conference. The major themes of the conference will include: Environmental Exposures in Indigenous Communities; Impacts of eWaste on Vulnerable Populations; Worker Health in Indigenous Communities; Networking for effective collaborations in Children’s Environmental Health; Health effects of exposure to heavy metals, especially Arsenic and Lead; and, Policy implications and responses to environmental exposures in the 21st century. The conference will be held on September 24th -27th 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Early Registration Closes July 24 and abstract submission closes June 30, 2013.
EPA Seeks Public Comment on Draft Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting two public informational webinars to discuss the details of the proposed technical guidance. The webinars will be held on May 29, 2013, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET and June 6, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET.
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Hurricane Sandy Forced Third-Most People from Homes Worldwide in 2012
Climate change and extreme weather disasters were the main drivers of human displacement worldwide last year, with Hurricane Sandy accounting for most of the forced migration in the United States, according to a report released. The devastating East Coast storm affected 24 states, forcing 776,000 people out of their homes, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said in its report. Wildfires in the West and Hurricane Isaac also contributed to displacement, the report noted.
The Hill [Author: Zack Colman]
In Wake of West, Texas Explosion, Safety Advocates Recommend Harsher Fines
Such small fines are all too common, according to a new report released by the non-profit National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), entitled 2013: Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities. The report shows that the average fine for serious safety violations under federal OSHA law is $1,680 dollars. After factoring in OSHA's limited resources - under its current budget OSHA would need 129 years to inspect every workplace in the country-many employers are willing to take the risk that they may have to pay small fines, as in the case of Orestes Martinez's death.
In these Times [Author: Mike Elk]
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Department of Labor Susan Harwood Training Grant Program Solicitation
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is soliciting applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, through which a total of $1.5 million is available to nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations; employer associations; labor unions; joint labor/management associations; and colleges and universities. The grants will fund training and education for workers and employers in recognizing workplace safety and health hazards and prevention measures, and understanding their rights and responsibilities. Applications are due June 13, 2013.
Senate Unanimously Confirms Energy Nominee Ernest Moniz
Physicist Ernest Moniz won unanimous Senate confirmation to be the nation’s new energy secretary. Moniz, 68, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in President Barack Obama’s first term. Moniz served as an energy undersecretary in the Clinton administration.
Chemical Safety Board Footage of West, Texas Explosion Damage
The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new three-minute compilation of video footage showing the extensive community damage from the ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion on April 17, 2013 in West, Texas. The explosion led to at least 14 deaths and injured around 200 others. The narrated video collected by CSB investigators at the site illustrates the extent of destruction to schools, residences, and other nearby facilities such as the West Haven Rest nursing home and a nearby apartment block and playground. The video can be viewed on the CSB's Facebook page for the West accident investigation.
Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris Appoints 8 Members to Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health
Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris has announced the appointment of two new members and re-appointment of six current members to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). They will serve two-year terms and represent the interests of the public, employers, employees and state government.
EPA Takes Steps To Better Consider Environmental Justice and Engage Overburdened Communities in the Permitting Process
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued “Actions that EPA Regional Offices Are Taking to Promote Meaningful Engagement in the Permitting Process by Overburdened Communities ("EPA Actions")” and “Promising Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued Permits: Ways to Engage Neighboring Communities ("Promising Practice").” Promising Practices encourages permit applicants operating, or proposing to operate, facilities in overburdened communities to strategically plan and conduct enhanced outreach during the permitting process. By adopting promising practices, permit applicants can build trust, promote a better understanding in the community of the facility's environmental impact, and build strong relationships that will lead to better results for both the community and the permit applicant.
EPA Seeks Public Comment on Draft Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing for public comment “Draft Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis.” The purpose of this draft guidance is to provide EPA analysts with technical information on how to consider environmental justice (EJ) in regulatory analyses.
DOT makes $21.9 Million Available to Strengthen Transit Safety Oversight
The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is making $21.9 million available to help strengthen public transportation safety for millions of riders and transit workers nationwide. In addition to the funds, the agency also announced a flexible new policy, known as Safety Management Systems (SMS), which DOT has officially adopted to help guide states and transit agencies in managing safety risks in a proactive, cost-effective way.
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CPWR Announces Hazard Communication Training Course
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)’s 4-hour hazard communication course satisfies the general training requirements of the Occupational Safety Health and Administration (OSHA()’s hazard communication standard 29CFR1910.1200. If this course is not tailored for participants’ specific worksite, some additional training will be required at their worksite, such as what chemicals are in their work area, where Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and the employer’s written Hazcom program are located. CPWR has based this course on good adult education techniques, like involving students in small group activities. This approach will foster participation from the class and allow students to draw on their work experience to learn material and solve problems.
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