March 5, 2021
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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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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Managing Inequities and Environmental Injustices Encountered on the Job Among Workers Experiencing Disadvantage NIEHS WTP Webinar
COVID-19 illness, infectious disease, and natural disasters have disproportionately affected high risk, disadvantaged, under-resourced, and minority workers. This NIEHS webinar panel will explore challenges and opportunities for improving safety and health among these populations of workers, workplaces, and geographies. It will also address how comorbidities and disadvantages like underlying chronic disease, food insecurity, race, and income can impact occupational risk. Given the recent winter storm related events in Texas, we will also hear about how the lack of power and water across the state have disproportionately affected workers and the impact of COVID-19 in that region. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 16 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET.
Congress Briefed on NIEHS Disaster Preparation and Response Work
A Feb. 9 congressional briefing hosted by Friends of NIEHS (FNIEHS) drew attendees from the offices of more than a dozen members of Congress. The “Building Resilience in a Changing World” briefing focused on NIEHS research and response to wildfires, hazardous materials incidents, and other disasters.
Environmental Factor [Author: John Yewell]
Bankrupt Philadelphia Energy Solutions Blames ‘Mislabeled’ Pipe for Big Blast That Led to Refinery’s Closure
The bankrupt former operator of a South Philadelphia refinery has blamed the supplier of an allegedly mislabeled elbow section of pipe for the 2019 leak and explosion that led to the permanent closure of the plant. Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing LLC, along with the trust that is liquidating the company’s remaining assets, has sued Babcock & Wilcox Co. for allegedly mislabeling the pipe, whose failure authorities say led to the catastrophic accident.
Philadelphia Inquirer [Author: Andrew Maykuth]
State Wants Biden To Overturn Trump Rule on Hanford Nuclear Waste
The state of Washington and other groups are asking the Biden administration to overturn a Trump administration rule that would allow the federal government to potentially clean up the Hanford nuclear reservation to less stringent standards. A letter sent on Feb. 26 to Jennifer Granholm, just a day after she was confirmed as energy secretary, was signed by leaders of Washington state, the Yakama Nation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Hanford Challenge and Columbia Riverkeeper.
KPVI [Author: Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald]
Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act Reintroduced by Nevada Leaders
Nevada elected officials re-introduced the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act in the U.S. Senate and House. This legislation would ensure that state, local, and tribal governments are central to a permanent repository and storage program, and it would give Nevadans a meaningful voice in any plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Waste Vault at Savannah River Site Checked for Leaks as Project Progresses
A weeks-long effort to test Saltstone Disposal Unit 7 for leaks kicked off March 1, the latest sign of progress at the unfinished vault at the Savannah River Site. Savannah River Remediation, the liquid-waste contractor at the site, this week began filling the disposal unit with water “to check for any signs of leakage visible on the exterior,” according to a Department of Energy announcement.
Aiken Standard [Author: Colin Demarest]
New Mexico Goes to Court Over Slow Cleanup at U.S. Nuclear Lab
New Mexico is going after the federal government for failing to make progress on cleaning up contamination left behind by decades of bomb-making and nuclear research at one of the nation’s premier labs as concerns mount over plans to resume production of key components for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
U.S. News and World Report [Author: Susan Montoya Bryan]
Mental Health 'Epidemic' Threatens Communities of Color Amid COVID-19
Communities of color face a burgeoning wave of mental health problems as a result of how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people interact and grieve, experts warn. Health Policy Professor Vickie Mays said mood disorders, substance abuse and suicides are increasing in racial and ethnic communities in the United States, driven in part by the social isolation required to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. News and World Report [Author: Dennis Thompson]
California Virus Worker Safety Rule Survives Legal Challenge
California can continue to enforce its Covid-19 worker protection rule, a state judge ruled. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman in a decision wrote that he was rejecting employers’ request for an injunction to prevent enforcement of the rule by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health while the challenges to the rule continue.
Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]
Fractured: The Body Burden of Living Near Fracking
It's been 12 years since fracking reshaped the American energy landscape and much of the Pennsylvania countryside. And despite years of damning studies and shocking headlines about the industry's impact people that live amongst wellpads remain in the dark about what this proximity is doing to their health and the health of their families. A two-year investigation by EHN set out to close some of those gaps by measuring chemical exposures in residents' air, water, and bodies. EHN published a four-part series on the topic.
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Community Visions for Environmental Justice Organizing
How can technical assistance providers such as researchers, lawyers, academics and students support community-led movements for environmental justice? The Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is hosting three Saturday panels featuring community leaders and assistance providers, followed by moderated small-group discussions with speakers and attendees. Panels run from 1:30-2:45 p.m. ET, and discussions run from 3:00-4:15 p.m. ET on March 6 and March 13.
Respirator Development in the Time of COVID-19
The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a presentation on respirators and COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges in efforts to protect both workers and the public. A lack of respirators for health-care workers spurred research on the development of alternatives to the N95 respirator as well as methods to decontaminate them for multiple uses. The webinar will be held on March 9 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
EPA Nominations for NEJAC Membership is Now Open
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). The Agency is seeking nominations to fill approximately eight (8) new vacancies for terms through September 2022. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment to this advisory council. The deadline to apply is March 24.
Estimating Indoor Transmission Risks of SARS-CoV-2
The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a presentation that will explore two case studies where the Wells-Riley model was used to calculate SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk estimates. Based on previously collected data, risk estimates were calculated for nail salons and public schools located in New York City under different exposure scenarios. The webinar will be held on April 13 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.
EPA Challenge Seeks Innovative Solutions for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution from Wildfires
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal, state, local and tribal partners have launched the Cleaner Indoor Air During Wildfires Challenge Competition. The goal of the challenge is to solicit ideas for low-cost air cleaning technologies that reduce particulate air pollutants in homes during wildfires or other high pollution episodes. If their ideas are chosen, Challenge winners will receive prizes of up to $10,000. The deadline to submit is May 17.
AIHce EXP 2021
The American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce EXP) is an experience for Occupational Environmental Health Solutions professionals of all levels, specialties, and expertise. Discover the tools and strategies you need to protect worker health while taking advantage of several networking opportunities to grow your professional network. The event will take place in-person and virtual on May 24-26.
Notice of Intent to Publish a FOA for Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Minority Health and Health Disparities
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications on observational research to understand the role of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) in causing and sustaining health disparities, and intervention research that addresses SRD in order to improve minority health or reduce health disparities. The estimated application due date is Aug. 20.
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Environment and Mental Health — Intimately Connected, Much To Learn
There is growing evidence that the environment plays an important role in mental health. Yet, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), research into the effects of environmental stressors rarely focuses on behavioral and mental health outcomes. On Feb. 2-3, mental and environmental health researchers joined policy experts in a NASEM-sponsored workshop.
Environmental Factor [Author: Kelly Lenox]
To Help Farmworkers Get COVID-19 Tests and Vaccine, Build Trust and A Safety Net
With more than 20 million acres of corn and soybeans, Illinois is among the top U.S. producers of both those crops. To make it all happen, the state relies on thousands of farmworkers — some who travel to the state for seasonal work and others, like 35-year-old Saraí, who call Illinois home.
NPR [Authors: Christine Herman and Dana Cronin]
Lawmakers Pass COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Bills
The Virginia General Assembly passed multiple bills allowing health care workers and first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are disabled or die due to COVID-19. House Bill 1985 expanded workers’ compensation benefits for health care workers “directly involved in diagnosing or treating persons known or suspected to have COVID-19,” including doctors and nurses.
NBC12 [Author: Sam Fowler]
Building a Comprehensive Floor Safety Strategy
The way people work changed tremendously in the year 2020. Employees in many industries discovered they could be just as productive working virtually as they were in the office. However, some industries, such as the manufacturing industry, simply can’t function in a virtual environment.
Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Patrick Kehoe]
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Labor Department IG Backs Calls for Binding Covid-19 Workplace Safety Standard, Slams Trump's Policy
The Labor Department’s independent watchdog recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration consider issuing Covid-19-specific safety rules employers would be required to follow, saying that would better protect Americans from exposure to the coronavirus. The recommendation adds weight to calls by President Joe Biden, other Democrats and labor unions for the agency to issue such emergency protections.
Politico [Author: Rebecca Rainey]
Biden Declares Major Disaster in Oklahoma
President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Oklahoma on Thursday, freeing up more federal resources for 16 counties in the state that were impacted by the recent severe winter weather. Individuals and business in these counties will be able to receive grants for temporary housing or repairs, low-cost loans to cover damage to uninsured property and other assistance, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Hill [Author: Morgan Chalfant]
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Fighting Misinformation, Preventing Workplace COVID-19 Exposure
In January and February 2021, NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) winter webinars focused on COVID-19 prevention, taking on the role of the vaccine and occupational exposure in nonhospital health care settings, respectively. The webinars are offered in both English and Spanish. The webinars feature “great voices for you to hear from on the frontline, from those in hospital settings and other facilities,” said Sharon Beard. The acting WTP director has more than 25 years in leadership of the Environmental Career Worker Training Program.
Environmental Factor [Author: Kelley Christensen]
CPWR – Fatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S. Falls, struck-by, electrocutions, and caught-in/between, defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, remain leading fatal threats to workers in the industry. This Data Bulletin by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) summarizes trends in fatal injuries among construction workers using publicly available data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), a data collection from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
WTP Clearinghouse Fact Sheets on COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available in Spanish
Given the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, information about health and safety for workers is in high demand. In response, WTP and the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training developed three new fact sheets. The fact sheets are now available in both English and Spanish.
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WEC Seeks Occupational Health and Safety Trainer
The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is a coalition of 70 labor, community, and environmental organizations advocating for safe, secure jobs and a healthy, sustainable environment. WEC seeks a full-time bi-lingual occupational health and safety (level 1) trainer to conduct health and safety trainings, with an emphasis on COVID prevention and awareness for workers.
OAI Seeks Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Training Programs
Chicago-based OAI is looking for an exceptional Occupational Safety, Industrial Hygiene, or Public Health professional who wants to make a positive impact on people’s lives by leading OAI’s nationwide worker health and safety training programs. These programs address the needs of first responders, underrepresented workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.
UMD Seeks Environmental and Climate Justice Outreach and Policy Specialist
University of Maryland, College Park is hiring an Environmental and Climate Justice Outreach and Policy Specialist, who will work closely with the various members of the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) lab to assist in a wide variety of tasks related to community outreach, engagement, education, and environmental health and justice.
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