Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: April 9, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, April 9, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

April 9, 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.

Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news.

Top StoriesBack to Top

Spring 2021 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the virtual NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop. The Awardee Meeting will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, April 20, and the Workshop will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 21-22. The workshop is tentatively scheduled at 1:00-5:15 p.m. ET both days. A draft workshop agenda is now available.


‘This Is Environmental Racism’

Ben Chavis was driving on a lonely road through rolling tobacco fields when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the state trooper. Chavis knew he was a marked man. Protests had erupted over North Carolina’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals in a poor Black farming community in Warren County, and Chavis was a leader of the revolt. The trooper pulled him over.

Washington Post [Authors: Darryl Fears and Brady Dennis]

Nuclear Waste Project in Southeast New Mexico Delayed as Feds Demand Answers

A project to store high-level nuclear waste in southeast New Mexico was delayed as the federal government sought more answers from the company proposing to build and operate the facility as to its potential risk to human life. Holtec International proposed to build the consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) to temporarily hold spent nuclear fuel rods from generator sites across the country as a permanent repository was developed.

Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]

Minnesota Judge Strikes Down Rule That Eliminated Pork Plant Line-Speed Restrictions

A federal court in Minneapolis has tossed out a federal rule that eliminated line-speed restrictions in pork slaughterhouses, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious." The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), including one of its Minnesota locals, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2019 to stop implementation of a new inspection system for pork plants, which included unlimited line speeds.

Minneapolis Star Tribune [Author: Mike Hughlett]

Minnesota Factory Workers Feel Aftermath of Asbestos 36 Years Later

For over a decade, workers at the Conwed factory in Cloquet, Minn., claim they unknowingly risked their health, causing some to develop lung abnormalities, while others lost their lives. Conwed, formerly known as the Wood Conversion Co., used asbestos in the production of its Lo-Tone mineral board and ceiling tile products, potentially exposing about 6,000 workers to the hazardous ingredient.

Brainerd Dispatch [Author: Izabel Johnson]

Sparks Flying from Nuclear Waste Barrel Prompt Investigation

Flawed packing of radioactive waste caused sparks to fly from a container at Los Alamos National Laboratory, prompting evacuation of the work area and later the underground disposal site near Carlsbad where two similarly packed canisters were stored. The sparking caused no injuries, damage or radiation to be released, according to a letter the lab wrote to the New Mexico Environment Department.

Yahoo News [Author: Scott Wyland, The Santa Fe New Mexican]

CDC: 46 COVID-19 Cases Linked to One Indoor Bar Event in Rural Illinois

An indoor bar opening event in rural Illinois in February was linked to 46 cases of COVID-19, a new study finds, highlighting the dangers indoor gatherings in places like bars can pose. The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the event was linked to 26 COVID-19 cases in patrons at the bar opening and three in bar staff, who then spread the virus on to an additional 17 people.

The Hill [Author: Peter Sullivan]

The Pandemic's Tornado Phase

After more than a year of pandemic, after months of an aggressive vaccination campaign, the U.S. should finally be better positioned to protect itself against the coronavirus. Tens of millions of people have been vaccinated, and tens of millions more have some level of immunity from previous infection. With more people protected, a new surge could behave differently, but early signals from the states with rising case numbers suggest that this will not universally be the case.

Defense One

Surging Covid Vaccine Rates Raise Legal Issues for OSHA Standard

The growing number of vaccinated people could fuel legal challenges if the federal government issues an emergency temporary standard to prevent workplace Covid-19 infections. As of April 1, 16.9% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated and 30% of the population was at least partially vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker website.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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.

Webinar Registration

U.S. EPA: Brownfields Stakeholder Discussion with Nonprofits and Community Groups

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites representatives from nonprofit organizations and community foundations to join an online open discussion and listening session about nonprofit leadership in brownfields assessment, cleanup and redevelopment projects. EPA wishes to learn how EPA can support nonprofit efforts to assess, cleanup and redevelop brownfields sites in the communities they serve. The event will be held on April 23 at 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

2021 HHS Small Business Program Conference Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for life sciences in the U.S. There is more than $1.2 billion of seed funding for small businesses who are developing innovative products and services that could potentially save lives. This conference, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will explore the theme Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations. The conference will be held April 26-30.

More Information

Stigma of Addiction Summit

The National Academy of Medicine, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, and Shatterproof are pleased to announce the Stigma of Addiction Summit on June 10. It is a half-day, virtual, action-oriented summit entirely dedicated to understanding, addressing, and eliminating the harmful impacts of stigma on people who use drugs. The goal of the Summit is to elevate current efforts at reducing stigma, identify successes and gaps in the evidence base, and prioritize and identify areas for future research.

Meeting Registration

Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIEHS is interested in observational research examining the role of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) as a significant determinant in environmental health disparities, or evidence-based intervention research that mitigates or prevents the negative health outcomes attributable to environmental SRD. Applicants are strongly encouraged to utilize community engaged research approaches and include letters of support from community partners. Applications are due August 24.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Residents Fight for Environmental Justice in Houston Neighborhoods Dealing with Hazardous Sites and Air Pollution

Living in Houston, air quality is a concern for nearly everyone, but research shows some communities are hit harder by the dangers of persistent pollution. “Poor Black and brown communities are experiencing more of the burdens of environmental injustice, which we call environmental racism as well,” said Zoe Middleton with Texas Housers, a non-profit focused on solving housing and community development issues.

Click2Houston [Author: Syan Rhodes]

West Virginia Remembers Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster On 11th Anniversary

April 5 marks 11 years since the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster in Raleigh County, where 29 miners were killed on April 5, 2010. Federal mine safety investigators determined that a buildup of methane gas and coal dust led to the explosion at the Massey Energy-owned mine. It was the worst mine disaster in 40 years.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting [Author: Curtis Tate]

Wrangell Tribe Helps Keep Thousands of Pounds of Toxic E-Waste Out of Landfills

A Tlingit tribe in the Southeast community of Wrangell, the Wrangell Cooperative Association, Alaska, has been working to recycle electronics to reduce e-waste. That helps keep potentially toxic materials from becoming hazardous waste on the island. Waste from old laptops, televisions and other electronics can and should be recycled.

KTOO [Author: Sage Smiley]

National Academy of Medicine Members Urge Black Americans to Get Vaccinated

In a newly released video, Black members of the National Academy of Medicine are urging Black Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. The members initially made their case encouraging Black Americans to get vaccinated in a New York Times op-ed published on Feb. 7.

National Academy of Medicine

How a Rural Colorado Community Self-Organized a Successful Vaccination Effort

Southwestern Colorado is used to spending winters partially isolated from the rest of Colorado, thanks to treacherous mountain passes that hem communities in when bad weather strikes. That may explain the spirit of can-do volunteerism that drove the county’s early Covid-19 vaccine efforts.

In These Times [Author: Dave Marston]

Virginia's Covid-19 Workplace Safety Regulation Is Permanent: A National Model

In July 2020, an OSHA State-plan State was the first in the country to issue a workplace safety regulation specifically addressing COVID-19. At that time, the Virginia standard was issued as a temporary emergency rule, which would expire by January 27, 2021, unless made permanent. On the expiration date, Governor Northam formally approved a revised version of the temporary emergency rule.

Mondaq [Author: Gabrielle Sigel]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Biden Administration to Invest $250 Million in Effort to Encourage COVID-19 Safety and Vaccination Among Underserved Populations

The Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness is announcing an effort to invest $250 million to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will offer the funding as health literacy grants to localities, who will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural and other vulnerable populations. OMH will be accepting applications for this new initiative through April 20.


Suicides Among First Responders: A Call to Action

The recent Surgeon General’s “Call to Action to Implement the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention” highlighted suicides as a significant public health problem. In 2019, there were 47,500 suicide fatalities in the U.S. and an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts. The causes of suicide are complex, with many personal, socio-demographic, medical, and economic factors playing a role.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Science Blog

Surgeon General’s Call to Action

OSHA Guidance on How It Will Conduct COVID-19 Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 (Response Plan) to regional administrator and state plan designees on March 12, 2021. Although not directed to employers, the Response Plan offers insight into what employers should expect during OSHA’s COVID-19 inspections.


JD Supra

DOL Creates New Whistleblower Protocols

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will now be responsible for overseeing worker retaliation complaints that are filed under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (CAARA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

EHS Today [Author: David Sparkman]

Infectious Disease, Workplace Violence Rules Remain in OSHA Plan

Under the last regulatory flexibility agenda signed by Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has retained rulemakings to expand the communication tower standard and establish standards for infectious disease exposures and the prevention of workplace violence in health care and social assistance.

Safety BLR

Regulatory Flexibility Agenda

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Companies Sign Labor Union to Promote Construction Safety

Large construction projects require partnerships and coordination with a contractor, subcontractor, tradesman, and others working on-site to complete building on time and budgeting. Protecting the health and safety of workers and employees goes hand in hand; this is where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration comes in to play.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Shereen Hashem]

Press Release

CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR is also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

WNYCOSH Is Hiring an Executive Director

The Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH) is seeking a new Executive Director. WNYCOSH advocates for safe and healthy working conditions for all workers, conducts training and educational programs on workplace safety for workers and unions, and educates the public on worker safety and health issues and workers’ rights. The position closes April 21.

Job Posting

CPWR Seeks Data Center Assistant Director

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is seeking an assistant director. The position’s major responsibilities include analyzing large national datasets, summarizing statistical results, guiding data visualization efforts, and co-drafting reports, briefs, and scientific manuscripts for publication and dissemination. This is an excellent opportunity for a seasoned statistician, epidemiologist or other specialist with demonstrated data management and data analysis experience.

Job Posting

We Want Your FeedbackBack to Top

We Want Your Feedback

What kinds of stories or other content would make this newsletter especially valuable to you?

Send your ideas for this newsletter to:

To go back and subscribe to the newsletter, click here

Back issues of our Newsbrief are available at our archives page

to Top