April 23, 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
- Job Openings
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- Newsbriefs Past Issues
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Study: Chemical Used in Paint Thinners Caused More Deaths Than EPA Identified
A chemical found in paint strippers is associated with more deaths than previously thought, according to research published on April 19 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers consulted studies and government databases for deaths associated with the chemical methylene chloride from 1980 to 2018.
The Hill [Author: Zack Budryk]
Nuclear Waste Structures in Washington State Are Stabilized
The U.S. Department of Energy has confirmed that two underground structures at the decommissioned Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state have been stabilized after they were deemed at risk of collapsing and spreading radioactive contamination into the air. The partial collapse of a tunnel storing nuclear waste prompted a federal study which concluded last year.
Fatal Explosion at U.S. Paint and Polymers Plant
An explosion and fire left one worker dead, five more hospitalized and a further four with minor injuries at a polymer resin plant at a paint factory in Columbus, Ohio. The initial explosion at Yenkin-Majestic Paints and OPC polymers occurred when a metallic kettle reactor, heated by a gas furnace, burst during manufacturing of alkyd polyester resin, according to updates from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
Chemistry World [Author: Phillip Broadwith]
Climate Change Is Affecting Mental Health — Here’s What You Can Do About It
According to one report, 25 to 50 percent of people exposed to an extreme weather disaster are at risk of an adverse mental health effect. That same report adds that up to 54 percent of adults and 45 percent of children experience depression after a natural disaster. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, 49 percent of survivors developed an anxiety or mood disorder. Plus, 1 in 6 developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide and suicidal thoughts doubled.
Crises Collide: Homeless in America When Climate Disaster Strikes
It's an immutable truth of the climate crisis that the most vulnerable are hit first and hardest. At a time of rising homelessness in the U.S. and as climate-related disasters become common — wildfires in California, monster hurricanes that thrash the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, an arctic blast in Texas — the rule holds.
NBC News [Author: Andrew McCormick]
As Mask Mandates End, Oregon Bucks Trend with Permanent Rule
As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it. A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state. The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”
Washington Post [Author: Sara Cline, Associated Press]
|Calendar Features||Back to Top|
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.
2021 National Tribal Public Health Summit
The National Tribal Public Health Summit highlights best, evidence-based, emerging, and promising public health practices developed by Tribes for Tribes. It also explores public health policy and its impact on Tribes, and serves as a forum for practitioners, researchers, and policy experts to mobilize in the arenas of public, behavioral, and environmental health. This year’s summit will be held on April 27-29.
EPA Announces White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) 2021 Public Meetings Series
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed dates for the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) public meetings. The meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the specific issues being considered by WHEJAC. These meetings are being held on April 28 and May 13, from approximately 2:00-6:00 p.m. ET.
CSB Will Hold Public Board Meeting on May 4 to Release Final Investigation Report
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced its intent to hold a public board meeting on May 4, 11 a.m. ET, to release its final investigation report into a fatal incident which occurred in Odessa, TX on October 26, 2019. The incident occurred when a release of water containing hydrogen sulfide— a toxic gas — occurred at a facility called a “waterflood station” located in Odessa, TX, and operated by Aghorn Operating, Inc. (Aghorn).
The EPA Environmental Justice and Systemic Racism Series Features the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership
Redlining data was key to Groundwork Trusts’ community organizing efforts to secure climate provisions in Richmond, Virginia’s master plan, green infrastructure in Elizabeth, NJ. Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership and Groundwork’s Trusts, Groundwork Hudson Valley, and Groundwork Richmond are leading the way in working with stakeholders. The webinar will be held on May 5 at 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET.
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, identifying successes and gaps in the evidence base, and prioritizing and identifying areas for future research.
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.
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NAM Action Collaborative Releases Proposed Research Agenda
The National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic has outlined a comprehensive list of cross-sectoral research priorities designed to identify a responsive, evidence-based, and COVID-19-informed path to reinforcing the systems that educate and train health professionals, care for individuals who experience pain and provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorders.
Chemical Used in Many Oil Refineries Could Cause Mass Deaths If Leaked
The threat came from the Torrance Refinery, a 700-acre plot which processes around 155,000 barrels of crude oil every day and uses hydrofluoric acid (HF) — or “modified hydrofluoric acid” (MHF) as refineries often refer to the substance — to make high octane gasoline. Around 400,000 people live within three miles of the refineries.
Truthout [Author: Lucy Sherriff, Drilled News]
Coal Miners Union Says It Would Accept Transition to Renewables With Green Jobs
The largest union of coal miners in the U.S. announced on April 19 that it would accept a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as long as the federal government takes care of coal workers through the provision of green jobs and income support for those who become unemployed.
Truthout [Author: Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams]
Equitable Energy Transition Will Require More Than Funding and Job Training, Researchers Say
To achieve social and economic equity goals, organizations should focus on tightening policies around qualifications and livable wages for employees and contractors, according to a new guide from Inclusive Economics and the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge.
Utility Dive [Author: Emma Penrod]
Hotel Workers: Vulnerable and Alone
When was the last time you stayed in a hotel? If we had to guess, it was probably more than year ago, before the pandemic changed our lives forever. In fact, 2020 was the worst year in recorded history for the U.S. hotel industry, having more than one billion rooms gone unsold, which beat the previous record of 786 million unsold rooms during the recession in 2009.
Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Gen Handley]
COVID-19 Slowed but Did Not Stop Progress on Hanford Cleanup
An act of God. Or, among lawyers, a force majeure. Many contracts have force majeure clauses to govern what happens when faced with circumstances beyond anyone’s control. The global COVID-19 pandemic certainly falls into this category. How much did COVID-19 affect Hanford’s cleanup mission? Not much in the big picture. Some tank waste pumping will slow down.
|Federal Agency Update||Back to Top|
EPA EJ Small Grants and Collaborative Problem-Solving Grants Extended to June 1
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates the potential for additional funds up to approximately $10.5 million to be made available through the 2021 Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants and EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving funding opportunities along with the original amount of EJ funds. These potential additional funds can be used for COVID-19 projects specifically to address clean air issues and/or training for a safe drinking water workforce. A webinar to discuss these grants will be held on April 26 at 4:00-5:30 p.m. ET.
CSB Clarifies Board Member Roles, Responsibilities
During an April 2 public business meeting, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced it has revised a board order on board member roles and responsibilities in response to criticism of the agency in recent Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General reports. CSB Chair and CEO Katherine Lemos called the measure “a major step forward for the efficiency of the agency.”
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ECWTP Fact Sheet Now Available
The NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) released a new fact sheet to describe the program. ECWTP provides training to increase opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged and underserved communities to obtain careers in environmental cleanup, construction, hazardous waste removal, and emergency response.
Managing Inequities and Environmental Injustices Encountered on the Job Among Workers Experiencing Disadvantage Webinar Recording Now Available
COVID-19 illness, infectious disease, and natural disasters have disproportionately affected high risk, disadvantaged, under-resourced, and minority workers. This WTP webinar recording is now available. The webinar explored challenges and opportunities for improving safety and health among these populations of workers, workplaces, and geographies. It also addressed how comorbidities and disadvantages like underlying chronic disease, food insecurity, race, and income can impact occupational risk.
May Monthly WTP Awardee Update: Evaluation Community of Practice
The purpose of the Community of Practice webinars is to support WTP grantees in sharing evaluation methods and lessons learned and providing feedback to NIEHS on moving evaluation forward for the program. This webinar will allow participants to talk to other WTP grantees involved in evaluation about their practices and challenges. The webinar will be held on Monday, May 10, and Wednesday, May 12, at 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET.
Worker Training Program: Northern New England
WTP annually funds training for more than 200 workers through a dozen health and safety courses in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. These grantee-led trainings prepare workers to handle hazardous materials and respond to disasters in their communities.
WTP [Author: Simone Depew]
2021 Safety Stand-Down Campaign
The Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction began in 2012 with construction industry stakeholders seeking a way to raise awareness. Falls from heights are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction, with those coming disproportionately from small residential construction contractors. The campaign will be held May 3-7.
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.
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Midstate COSH is Hiring Program Director
Midstate Council on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) is in upstate New York and works in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions. Job duties include health and safety training, grant writing and other fundraising and community organizing and advocacy. Our work includes ergonomics, farmworker and immigrant worker health and safety and organizing and an active Teens Lead at Work program.
Vermont Seeks Occupational Safety Consultant
The Vermont Department of Labor is currently hiring an Occupational Safety Consultant. This position confers with Vermont employers at their request to explain state laws and regulations pertaining to VOSHA and OSHA. The incumbent conducts voluntary inspections of employer facilities and equipment to determine compliance with codes and industry standards.
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