April 30, 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.
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|Top Stories||Back to Top|
‘Long Haul’ COVID-19 Sufferers Take a Page From AIDS/HIV Activism to Be Heard
The Body Politic COVID-19 Support Group has registered 10,500 COVID-19 patients and their caregivers and families, who have started an independent research group to advise the National Institutes of Health. It is among dozens of grass-roots organizations around the world that have formed to make sure that a year into the pandemic — as fatigue mounts, vaccines become more available and infection rates drop — COVID-19 and its lingering symptoms remain in the public eye.
Los Angeles Times [Author: Thomas Curwen]
Military's Mess Sparks Guam Superfund Battle
Nearly a century's worth of tension between the United States and Guam over the cleanup of a massive waste site on the remote Pacific island will come before the nation's Supreme Court. Guam contends that it should not be the sole party on the hook for the $160 million cleanup of the island's now-shuttered Ordot Dump, which the U.S. Navy built in the 1940s to dispose of military waste.
E&E News [Authors: Pamela King and E.A. Crunden]
EPA, U.S. Virgin Islands Officials Launch Probe After Second St. Croix Refinery Accident
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Virgin Islands officials are investigating a second accident at a controversial refinery in St. Croix after it emitted noxious fumes that prompted some schools and a vaccination site on the island to close on April 23. The release of sulfuric gases from the facility, which caused nausea and eye irritation in some residents and comes shortly after the Limetree Bay refinery showered oil on a neighboring community, has raised fresh questions about the operation.
Worker Group Alleges Unsafe Practices at Marathon Minnesota Refinery
Inadequate safety standards at Marathon Petroleum’s St. Paul Park refinery in Minnesota have caused avoidable hydrocarbon and chemical releases that pose a threat to the community, a local worker advocacy group said in a report released on April 25, as a lockout of unionized plant workers extends into its third month.
Reuters [Author: Laura Sanicola]
Electric Vehicles Coming to WIPP Nuclear Waste Repository, Intended to Improve Airflow
An effort to replace diesel vehicles and equipment at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) with electrical and battery-operated components is underway, part of a broader goal of improving airflow in the underground nuclear waste repository. Available air in the underground, where low-level nuclear material is permanently disposed of, became restricted following an accidental radiological release in 2014 that contaminated parts of the mine.
Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]
U.S. Health Care Sector Combatting One Crisis, But Contributing to Another: Climate Change
The American health care sector is responsible for approximately 8-10% of the country’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; if our health care sector were its own country, it would be the 13th largest source of GHG emissions worldwide. So, while we’re helping to mitigate the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’re contributing to a different crisis altogether.
Baltimore Sun [Authors: Sathvik Namburar and Alan Robin]
Fish Processing Workers in New Bedford Worried About Respiratory Health, Organizations Say
Representatives of local and state worker advocacy groups sent a letter last week to a city seafood processing facility detailing concerns about worker health. The letter, delivered April 19 in person and by email to North Coast Seafoods, discusses "troubling symptoms and illness" among current and former workers. The workers believe it is caused by a machine they say cuts and debones fish with hot water and pressure.
South Coast Today [Author: Anastasia E. Lennon, Standard-Times]
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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.
Upcoming Trainings on Nanotechnology Safety for Municipal Officials and First Responders
Nanotechnology: What Municipalities Need to Know, hosted by the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA), will provide officials and first responders with an understanding of the essential information needed to manage risk and address concerns. This interactive virtual workshop will include experts in emergency management, safe development of nanomaterials, and environmental health. The training will be offered on May 3 at 2:00-4:00 p.m. and May 6 at 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET.
Stress and Mental Health in Emergency Management and Affiliated Professions: It’s OK to Talk About It.
The Journal of Emergency Management is hosting a webinar that will address the current state of mental wellness in the emergency management field and affiliated professions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent disasters. The webinar will address general and pandemic specific stressors and challenges in our profession. The webinar will be held on May 6 at 1:00 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, Texas, 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.
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 and green infrastructure in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership and Groundwork’s Trusts, Groundwork Hudson Valley, and Groundwork Richmond will share with stakeholders how to effect systems change to make communities more resilient to extreme heat and flooding. The webinar will be held on May 5 at 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET.
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 of their practices and challenges. The webinar will be held on Monday, May 10 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET.
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 May 13, from approximately 2:00-6:00 p.m. ET.
Pain in the Nation: How High Rates of Suicide, Alcohol, and Overdose Deaths Require a Comprehensive Resiliency Strategy
Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust is hosting a virtual Congressional briefing on the soon to be released update in their Pain in the Nation report series. Over the past decade more than one million Americans have died from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Now this trend has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragmented health system, and social and community conditions. The meeting will be held May 19 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
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.
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.
Save the *NEW* Dates for Brownfields 2021!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA are committed to ensuring the National Brownfields Training Conference provides the best networking and learning environment possible for the brownfields community. Several considerations were made related to the current, and anticipated, COVID-19 situation. The event has been rescheduled from its September dates to December 8 – 11, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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Two Fundamental Reasons for the Passage of OSHA 1970 Signing Ceremony DOL Secretary Hodgson
In celebration of Worker Memorial Day, this Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) video dives into the reasons to create the OSHA. Former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary James Hodgson gave a glowing review of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 that was passed by Congress and signed by Republican President Richard Nixon.
New Rapid Expert Consultation Shares Insights from Social Science on Communicating COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Equity
As COVID-19 vaccinations continue and accelerate across the U.S., a new rapid expert consultation from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers advice for decision-makers communicating to the public about vaccine efficacy, effectiveness, and equity — drawing on findings from social and behavioral science.
Three Years After an Explosion Rocked Wisconsin's Only Refinery, Superior Is Still Waiting for Answers
Three years ago, an explosion rocked Wisconsin's only oil refinery in Superior, injuring three dozen people and causing a temporary evacuation of city residents. But investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have yet to release a final report on their investigation into the blast.
WPR [Author: Danielle Kaeding]
On A Day to Mourn Workers Who Died on the Job, COVID-19 Looms Large
Each year on this date, labor unions, other advocacy groups and family members mark Workers Memorial Day in recognition of lives lost on the job. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, 5,333 workers died of traumatic injury or sudden illness. It’s as if the entire population of Dayton, Kentucky, were erased.
Center for Public Integrity [Author: Jim Morris]
Opioids and the Workforce
On June 9, 2020, the National Safety Council (NSC) issued a statement calling on employers to prioritize employee stress and mental health. The council warned that heightened stress and mental health issues related to the pandemic among workers would likely lead to an increase in substance misuse. “(It) could be a serious threat to worker safety and cost tens of thousands in productivity losses, absenteeism and presenteeism, and worker’s compensation claims,” NSC cautioned.
Safety and Health Magazine [Author: Barry Bottino]
Low Pay Fuels Mental Health Worker Shortage in Cleveland Area
Calls to a local mental health crisis hotline are up 30 percent in the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. As demand for mental health services increased, it's been difficult for many providers to find professional staff over the last year. Nearly all community behavioral health providers in Cuyahoga County have job openings, according to Scott Osiecki, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County.
Idea Stream [Author: Lisa Ryan]
To Help Tackle Healthcare Worker Burnout, Start Talking About It
Healthcare staff are working through immense loss, grief and uncertainty to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic. As organizations think about how to support their staff, speakers at a MedCity INVEST panel said they must first talk about it openly and provide a safe space for workers to discuss their feelings.
MedCity News [Author: Anuja Vaidya]
|Federal Agency Update||Back to Top|
A Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day, 2021
On the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the White House reflects on the workers who have tragically lost their lives or have been harmed in the workplace and reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that every American worker has a safe and healthy work environment.
Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Plan Empowers and Protects Workers
President Joseph Biden is calling on Congress to create new, good-quality union jobs for American workers by leveraging their grit and ingenuity to address the climate crisis and build a sustainable infrastructure. Increased unionization can also impact our economic growth overall by improving productivity.
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ILO Calls for Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems for Future Emergencies
Countries need to put in place sound and resilient occupational safety and health (OSH) systems that would minimize the risks for everyone in the world of work in the event of future health emergencies, says the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a report, released on World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
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.
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 the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The incumbent conducts voluntary inspections of employer facilities and equipment to determine compliance with codes and industry standards.
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