August 31, 2018
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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Registration Now Open for WTP Fall Meeting
Registration for the 2018 NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop is now open! The WTP Awardee Meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The WTP Workshop will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, October 24 – 25, 2018. Both events will take place on the NIEHS campus in Research Triangle Park, NC. The WTP Workshop will focus on opioid-related hazards in the workplace and developing a training framework to address exposure, use, and prevention. Registration closes Wednesday, October 10, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.
CDC MMWR: Opportunities to Prevent Overdose Deaths Involving Prescription and Illicit Opioids
This Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) looks at how to prevent overdose deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids. The report states that most (58.7%) opioid overdose deaths involved illicit opioids only, followed by those where both illicit and prescription opioids were detected (18.5%); 17.4% of deaths involved prescription opioids only. The report concludes that development of overdose prevention programs should consider the types of opioids contributing to deaths, link persons to treatment during and upon release from an institution or after a nonfatal overdose and expand naloxone distribution to laypersons.
Nearly 10 Percent of Texans Displaced by Harvey Still Haven’t Gone Home, Survey Says
One year after Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas coast, eight percent of the people impacted by the disaster have not been able to return to their homes, according to a new report. Survey results, released by The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation, may be the clearest picture of how many people are still struggling to put their lives back together after Harvey.
The Texas Tribune [Author: Brandon Formby]
Nuclear Safety Board Slams Energy Department Plan to Weaken Oversight
A new order from the Department of Energy (DOE) that could be used to withhold information from a federal nuclear safety board and prevent the board from overseeing worker safety at nuclear facilities appears to violate longstanding provisions in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act. The order prevents the board from accessing sensitive information, imposes additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandates that Energy Department officials speak “with one voice” when communicating with the board.
ProPublica [Author: Rebecca Moss]
Study: Hurricane Maria and its Aftermath Caused a Spike in Puerto Rico Deaths, With Nearly 3,000 More Than Normal
Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico led to a spike in mortality across the U.S. territory, with an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in the six months after the storm made landfall in September 2017, according to a sweeping report from the George Washington University (GWU). The government of Puerto Rico embraced the GWU estimate as the official death toll, ranking Maria among the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
The Washington Post [Authors: Hernández et al.]
WHO: 13 Health Workers Infected in DRC Ebola Outbreak
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to grow, amid new healthcare worker infections and concerns that regional violence is making surveillance and detection challenging for international aid workers. According to a spokesperson with the World Health Organization (WHO), 13 healthcare workers have tested positive for Ebola, a troubling development, because infected health workers were one of the main factors in the rapid spread of the disease during the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa.
CIDRAP News [Author: Stephanie Soucheray]
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September Is National Preparedness Month
The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. National Preparedness Month (NPM), recognized each September, provides an opportunity to focus on how we all should improve our preparedness efforts. This year’s NPM will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Disasters Happen. Explore the link below to find NPM resources and ideas to promote preparedness.
SRP Progress in Research Webinars - Session II
The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is hosting a series of webinars to highlight work by SRP Centers that received grants in 2017. Session II will highlight three SRP Centers, including: 1) the University of Louisville SRP Center, which studies the cardiometabolic effects of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), 2) the University of New Mexico’s Metal Exposure and Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands in the Southwest SRP Center, which focuses on risk reduction for Native Americans exposed to hazardous metal mixtures from abandoned uranium mine waste, and 3) the University of Washington SRP Center, which investigates the mechanisms and ramifications of metal neurotoxicity in humans and aquatic species. The webinar will be held September 4, 2018, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET.
NASEM Workshop: Medical Product Shortages During Disasters
This workshop hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) will explore opportunities to improve and build upon the current evidence base on the effects of medical product shortages. Recent disasters and public health emergencies, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the treatment of Ebola patients, highlight the impact that shortages can have on health care delivery and emergency response. The workshop will be held September 5-6, 2018, in Washington, DC.
Registration for 2018 National Cleanup Workshop Now Open
Join senior executives and site officials, industry leaders, national and local elected officials, and other stakeholders for the fourth annual National Cleanup Workshop (NCW2018) to discuss the Department of Energy's (DOE) progress on the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation's Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons program. NCW2018 is hosted by the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) with the cooperation of the Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG) and the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM). The workshop will take place September 11 - 13, 2018, in Alexandria, VA.
Disaster Health Education Symposium 2018
The Uniformed Services University National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) will be hosting the Disaster Health Education Symposium at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. This symposium will provide a forum with a specific focus on education and training in disaster medicine and public health. The Symposium will be held on September 12, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET.
Webinar: Green Chemistry: Finding Safer Alternatives for Occupational Applications
The Rutgers School of Public Health is hosting a webinar focused on green chemistry as an essential component of occupational health. The webinar will discuss how to apply new tools and resources for transitioning to safer chemicals in the workplace, and how green chemistry research, applications, and educational activities can advance safety and health. Guest speakers include Nancy Simcox from the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Saskia Van Bergen from the Washington State Department of Ecology. The webinar will be held on September 20, 2018, from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET.
Hurricane Harvey: In the Eye of the Storm
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Global Health Now Live is hosting their second live event to discuss lessons drawn from the Harvey response. The event will feature David E. Persse, M.D., public health authority for the City of Houston, and Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., vice dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The event will be held in the Houston Methodist Hospital Research Institute on September 27, 2018, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
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Florida Firefighters Receive Decontamination Kits
Firefighters stationed near the University of Central Florida in Orange County, Florida, have become the first in Central Florida to receive decontamination kits. The decontamination kits are part of a Florida strategy to decrease firefighter exposure to possible cancer-causing chemical at fire scenes. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study has shown that firefighters have a higher risk of cancer diagnosis and higher risk of dying from cancer. Part of the increased risk involves exposure to toxic chemicals released from burning building and cars, as well as exposure to the diesel exhaust from fire trucks.
Kentucky Takes a Novel Approach to Fight the Opioid Crisis
The opioid overdose epidemic is a public health emergency. The state of Kentucky has the third highest rate of drug overdose in the country. FindHelpNowKY.org website bridges a gap between Kentucky residents and treatment facilities and services. The website provides: 1) near real-time available openings at local area substance use disorder (SUD) facilities, and 2) information on different treatment options and search criteria to help individuals find the right SUD treatment facility. Search criteria include: accepted insurance, gender identity, facility type, and co-occurring treatment for mental health disorder.
Public Health Matters Blog [Authors: Terry Bunn]
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Report on Audit Critical of Hanford Nuclear Site’s Compensation Program
The Office of Inspector General released a report on its congressional-ordered audit of the workers compensation program at the Hanford nuclear site in Hanford, Washington, where workers have reportedly suffered from numerous ailments and cancers due to their contact with hazardous materials. The report cites issues with how the Hanford workers compensation office inadequately filed forms with the state Department of Labor and Industries, which oversees the state’s compensation program, and how a lack of communication has led to overall mistrust between workers and those who handle their compensation claims.
Business Insurance [Author: Louise Esola]
Gases and Vapors Continue to Pose Hazards on Oil and Gas Well Sites
This blog provides an update on fatalities, injuries, and exposures associated with hazardous gases and vapors in the oil and gas extraction industry, and alerts employers to exposures that can occur while working around oil and gas process fluids. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted surveillance of worker fatalities and severe injuries in the oil and gas extraction industry. NIOSH researchers sought to determine the number of fatalities and hospitalizations with known or potential exposure to hazardous gases and vapors, as well as fires and explosions around process fluids.
NIOSH Science Blog [Retzer et al.]
Engagement of Urgent Care Centers in Medical Surge Activities
Urgent care centers are a growing presence in the healthcare marketplace, but limited information is available about ongoing preparedness activities among urgent care centers or their readiness to contribute to the healthcare system response to emergencies and disasters. The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) conducted 18 interviews with urgent care center leaders associated with centers in 44 states to capture a snapshot of current activities and perceptions.
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Five Years After Lac-Mégantic
It’s been five years since the downtown section of Lac-Mégantic was obliterated by an oil train explosion. The effects of the disaster still reverberate through the community. While the town can be rebuilt, the people of Lac-Mégantic still struggle with aftermath of this disaster. The following three-part video presentation features Mélissa Généreux, M.D., M.SC., F.R.C.P.C, chief public health officer for Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Her ongoing research on the long-term response to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, as well as its broader public health and community mental health was discussed at a symposium on April 20, 2018.
Smoke Sense Study: A Citizen Science Project Using a Mobile App
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers are conducting a citizen science study called Smoke Sense to: 1) determine the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity, and 2) develop health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoke days. Individuals who want to contribute to science can participate in the study by using the Smoke Sense app, a publicly available mobile application on the Google Play Store and App Store. The Smoke Sense research team has used feedback from the 2017 pilot season participants to make updates to the app.
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Recruiting Cal/OSHA Safety and Health Inspectors
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is hiring safety and health inspectors throughout the state. These are field positions that conduct compliance inspections in many different settings and consult with employers on a wide range of health and safety issues. The upcoming application deadline is October 31, 2018.
Ford Foundation Seeks Program Officer
The Ford Foundation seeks a dynamic, strategic leader to serve as a Program Officer in its new ‘Future of Work’ (FoW) program area, which strives to actively ensure that the ‘future of work’ places workers and their well-being at the center and reduces inequality. The Program Officer would help shape FoW program strategy, develop grant portfolios and related activities, and participate as a thought-leader on issues related to the ‘Future of Work’ in various public and private settings. Apply for this position by September 25, 2018.
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