October 18, 2019
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.
Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news.
- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
- We Want Your Feedback
- Newsbriefs Past Issues
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NIEHS Disaster Preparedness App Available for Download
The NIEHS/Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Disaster Preparedness mobile app allows workers exposed to hazards on disaster sites to access a full suite of awareness-level training resources with a simple tap of the screen. From within the app, users can select and download training materials on a variety of disaster types and related topics. Once downloaded, the materials can be accessed anytime, anywhere—no Internet connection required.
Faulty, Old Pipe Caused PES Refinery Explosion, Sending a Bus-size Piece of Debris Flying Across Schuylkill
A piece of pipe, long overdue for replacement, spilled highly combustible hydrocarbons mixed with a dangerous chemical and caused the devastating explosions and fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery in the early morning of June 21. One explosion sent a 38,000-pound vessel — about the same weight as a firetruck — across the Schuylkill River, where it landed on the waterway’s banks, near the company’s tank farm. PES estimates the incident released about 676,000 pounds of hydrocarbons, most of it — about 608,000 pounds — burned in the fire and explosions.
WHYY Radio [Authors: Susan Phillips and Dana Bate]
EPA Shifts Timeline for Chemical Risk Evaluations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is giving the public more time upfront to comment on chemical risk evaluations before the agency’s advisers critique those same documents, the agency’s top chemicals official said Oct. 11. A new chemical risk evaluation release schedule that the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing will give the public at least 30 days, to review draft chemical risk evaluations.
Bloomberg Environment [Author: Pat Rizzuto]
GAO: Agencies Lack Environmental Justice Follow-through
Federal agencies are falling short on their commitments to support environmental justice, according to a new watchdog report from the Government Accountability Office. Since 16 agencies joined an interagency working group on environmental justice in 1994, they have allocated resources and staff to mitigate the disproportionate effects of environmental risk factors on low-income and minority groups. But they are falling short in their planning and reporting practices, according to the report. After a 2011 report on agencies' progress, most members of the working group developed strategic plans, but few have updated them or meaningfully followed through since.
E&E News [Author: Haley Weiss]
A Contractor Died Fighting a 2016 Wildfire – His Employer Was Just Convicted of Violating Labor Laws
A Monterey County Superior Court judge found the employer of the only person to die in the massive 2016 Soberanes Fire criminally guilty of violating several labor laws in a case that debated whether heavy equipment operators hired to help the state battle wildfires are independent contractors or employees. Judge Andrew Liu announced the verdict in a Salinas courtroom on Oct. 16 for Ian Czirban, who employed Robert Reagan, a contract bulldozer operator killed while fighting the blaze that grew to more than 130,000 acres near Big Sur.
KQED [Author: Ted Goldberg]
Worker Collapses, Dies at Hanford; Second Death in a Week
A worker died Oct. 16 after collapsing in the early afternoon at the Hanford nuclear reservation. The woman’s death appeared to be from natural causes, officials say. The worker was at the Plutonium Finishing Plant in central Hanford, where work is underway to tear down the building. Co-workers and emergency responders reacted quickly, but the worker could not be saved, said Ty Blackford, president of Hanford contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation, in a message to employees.
New Law Will Require Construction Companies to Provide Valley Fever Training
Construction companies in Kern and certain other counties will be required to train their employees about valley fever risks and symptoms under a new law authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. A primary goal of the legislation, Assembly Bill 203, is to reduce the time lost, and medical expenses incurred, when people working outside breathe in invisible spores and end up contracting the airborne fungal disease also known as coccidioidomycosis.
Bakersfield.com [Author: John Cox]
Trump Re-Nominates Attwood to Federal Worker Safety Panel
President Donald Trump has nominated Cynthia L. Attwood to serve a third term on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Her previous term on the three-member panel expired April 27. The commission weighs in on disputes between regulators and companies on Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations and the appropriateness of civil penalties assessed for health and safety issues. It currently does not have a quorum.
Bloomberg Environment [Author: Fatima Hussein]
Activists Push for Relocation of San Onofre Nuclear Waste
Environmental activists who settled a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission and Southern California Edison after the utility agreed to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to relocate millions of pounds of nuclear waste are now asking a judge to enforce the deal. The Citizens Oversight community group is asking the San Diego Superior Court to order Edison to halt the transfer of spent fuel from wet to dry storage at the site of the failed San Onofre nuclear plant north of Oceanside.
Los Angeles Times [Author: Jeff McDonald]
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Webinar Program for National Poisoning Prevention Week 2019
The National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is hosting a series of webinars during Oct. 20-26. The goal is to increase lead poisoning prevention awareness, in an effort to reduce childhood exposure to lead. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lead Poisoning Prevention and Environmental Health Tracking Branch collaborate annually on this observance. The webinars are also supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Healthy Homes Partnership.
Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP) Webinar [Oct. 22, 11:00 a.m. ET]
Primary Prevention Protects – Working with Residents to Get Their Homes Checked for Lead Webinar [Oct. 22, 2:00 p.m. ET]
Consumer Outreach Ideas for Lead Programs Webinar [Oct. 23, 11:00 a.m. ET]
Amulets to Zaprana: Non-Paint Sources of Lead Webinar [Oct. 23, 2:00 p.m. ET]
CDC EPIC Webinar on Overcoming Message Resistance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hosting a webinar on Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET on a discussion of one of the great challenges in public health: overcoming message resistance. During public health emergencies, community leaders and emergency responders share advice with affected communities to help reduce harm or even save lives. People often receive and understand these messages but still don’t take the recommended actions. This webinar from CDC’s Emergency Partners Information Connection (EPIC) draws upon communication science, behavioral science, and the experiences of emergency responders to share best practices for overcoming message resistance.
Migrant Clinicians Network Webinar: Witnessing: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Trauma and What to Do About It
This webinar provides an overview of empathic stress, moral injury, and microaggressions, and describes coping strategies for both providers and clients. Kaethe Weingarten, Ph.D., discusses the role of clinicians, therapists, social workers, and other “witnesses” and “helpers” and the impact that witnessing has on the behavioral health of the witness. In the second half of the webinar we look at sources of resilience and what Weingarten calls “reasonable hope.” There is time for Q&A throughout the webinar. It will be held Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Annual Meeting 2020
Join the PEPH program in celebrating its 10th anniversary. The meeting will provide an opportunity to look towards the future, consider how the program/network can evolve, reflect on what has been accomplished, and challenges moving forward. The meeting will be held February 12-14, 2020 at the Durham Convention Center. Workshop abstracts are being accepted until 6:00 p.m. EDT on November 1, 2019. Poster abstracts are also being accepted until 6:00 p.m. EST on November 6, 2019.
COEH Effective, Interactive Training for Workers Webinar
The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a webinar on Nov. 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT. This webinar will explore how adults learn best, the five steps to develop a training plan, and how to incorporate meaningful interaction within training activities. Participants will also learn how to adapt materials and activities for low-literacy participants, and will identify resources for multi-lingual, interactive training materials on occupational safety and health.
Public Stakeholder Meeting on Leading Indicators for Safety and Health Programs
The U.S. Department of Labor invites interested parties to attend a discussion on leading indicators for occupational safety and health programs. The meeting will be held on Nov. 7 from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:30 p.m. ET. A key component of a safety and health program is to monitor performance and progress using leading indicators that track how well various aspects of the program are performing. The November discussion will focus on the use of leading indicators, how they are chosen, what they track, whether they are effective, if there is commonality across an industry, and any challenges encountered using such indicators. Registration ends Oct. 30.
2019 EPA International Decontamination Research and Development Conference
This conference is designed to facilitate presentation, discussion, further collaboration on research and development, and application of tools and research focused on an all-hazards approach to cleaning up contaminated buildings (both interior and exterior), infrastructure, and other areas/materials. The conference continues to focus strongly on matters involving chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) threat agents, but also includes all hazard elements. The conference brings together researchers, first responders, community leaders and planners, and industry. It will be held Nov. 19-21 in Norfolk, Virginia.
National Conference on Worker Safety and Health
The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON19) brings together a diverse, inclusive and bilingual group of participants of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists and academics united around common goals. The conference aims to empower workers, make workplaces safer and reduce the toll of on-the-job injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The conference will take place Dec. 3-5 in Baltimore.
Save the Dates March 16-18, 2020 Workshop on Bio-Preparedness
The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) has been addressing preparedness and response efforts since 2001. WTP awardees provided occupational biological safety training to workers during the anthrax attacks (2001), the H5N1 outbreak (2007), and the H1N1 avian influenza outbreak (2009); mold remediation training following Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012); and Ebola virus disease preparedness training (2013-2015). This work continued through the Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training Program, integrating the HAZMAT trainer’s understanding of worker safety and health protection with training and guidance on infection control and biosafety. In 2018, the administration issued its National Biodefense Strategy. This workshop will explore where WTP is with bio-preparedness, how our national biodefense strategy has evolved, and what contributions the WTP can make to implementation of the biodefense strategy.
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New NYCOSH Report “Time Off Task” Emphasizes Unhealthy Workplace Practices at Amazon’s Staten Island Distribution Center
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released a report today, “Time Off Task: Pressure, Pain, and Productivity at Amazon” that highlighted the company’s unhealthy workplace practices. The report was timed to be released on the anniversary of the Staten Island facility’s opening. NYCOSH found that workers experience harmful working conditions and a workplace culture that prioritizes line speeds over human safety. Several workers expressed being evaluated and docked points for the amount of “time off task” spent in a day.
The Workforce Is Aging—We Need to Keep It Healthy and Safe
The number of older people in the population has grown in the past 5 decades and is projected to continue to grow. People are living longer. They either need or want to continue working at an older age for reasons ranging from inadequate retirement savings or a need for continued health insurance benefits to job satisfaction and the social contact and stimulation of being in the workplace. While the labor participation rate for workers aged 65 to 74 is projected to remain significantly lower than those of prime working age, it is expected to increase in the next decade.
EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Guy Burdick]
New California Law Protects Workers from Toxic Lead Poisoning
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a measure that will help California protect workers from toxic lead poisoning. With his signature, the governor has directed health officials to automatically refer cases of high blood lead levels in workers for review and possible action. Environmental Working Group (EWG) sponsored Assembly Bill 35 by Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). It will ensure that workers who are exposed to high levels of lead poisoning are made known to the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA.
NIOSH and America Achieves Build A Safety Training Curriculum for Future Workers
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has partnered with America Achieves—a nonprofit that focuses on education-to-workforce issues—to promote young worker safety and health. The collaboration means that a new educational forum called Quest for Success will provide information, materials, and training for young individuals coming into the workforce to prepare for jobs of the future.
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Chemical Safety Board Releases Factual Update and New Animation Detailing the Events of the Massive Explosion and Fire at the PES Refinery in Philadelphia, PA
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a factual update into the June 21, explosion and fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refinery in Philadelphia. The factual update notes that a pipe elbow, which had corroded to about half the thickness of a credit card, appears to have ruptured in the refinery’s alkylation unit, releasing process fluid that included over 5,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, or HF. The leaking process fluid formed a large ground-hugging vapor cloud. Two minutes later, the cloud ignited, causing a massive fire and explosions.
Online Delivery of OSHA's Outreach Training Program 10- and 30-Hour Courses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requests information, comments, and documents that would assist the agency in determining whether to adopt a new online delivery model for OSHA's Outreach Training Program. The OSHA Outreach Training Program is a hazard awareness training program that educates participants on the recognition, abatement, and prevention of job-related hazards in the construction, general, and maritime industries, and at disaster sites. The potential new model would be limited to OSHA's 10- and 30-hour Outreach courses for the construction, general, and maritime industries.
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New Foundations for Safety Leadership Resources
The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) 2.5-hour Foundations for Safety Leadership (FSL) training program, which teaches construction workers critical skills they can use to create a stronger jobsite safety climate, has added new skill sheets and videos to its rich collection of resources. A free-standing course as well as an official elective in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30-hour, the FSL shows students both the costs of ineffective and the benefits of effective safety leadership. The new materials offer concise reminders of FSL practices, helping crew leaders set goals and be accountable.
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TNEC Seeks Marketing and Sales Coordinator
The New England Consortium (TNEC), based at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, is seeking a full-time marketing/sales coordinator to support its Hazardous Waste Site Worker and Emergency Response Disaster Preparedness Training program. The marketing/sales coordinator will plan and implement outreach activities targeting overall programmatic goals for retention of students and contract clients resulting in increased revenue/profitability. S/he will expand the program’s public profile throughout the New England states, enhance course offerings by keeping up with industry and environmental trends and events and manage emerging technology relative to website development and social media marketing.
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