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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 23, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 23, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 23, 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 StoriesBack to Top

NIEHS Worker Training Program Funding Opportunity: Hazardous Materials Worker Health and Safety Training

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites applications for cooperative agreements to support the development of model programs for the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response. This funding opportunity announcement aims to prevent work-related harm through safety and health training. The training programs will transmit skills and knowledge to workers in how best to protect themselves and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation, environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response.


NIEHS Worker Training Program Funding Opportunity: HAZMAT Training at DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites applications for cooperative agreements to support the development of model programs for the training and education of workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation and emergency response within the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons complex.


Police Departments Confront ‘Epidemic’ in Officer Suicides

A rash of suicides by police officers has shaken the New York Police Department (NYPD), leading the commissioner to declare a mental health emergency and highlighting the problem of untreated depression among law enforcement officers nationwide. The deaths have come despite the department’s mounting efforts to encourage officers to seek help for depression and other mental health problems. After two officers killed themselves on back-to-back days in June, Police Commissioner James O’Neill sent a note reminding the more than 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilians in the NYPD that help is available if they’re feeling depressed, hopeless or contemplating self-harm.

AP News [Authors: Michael R. Sisak and Jim Mustian]

On the Front Line of the Ebola Epidemic

Healthcare workers in DR Congo continue to educate and treat people, trying to prevent further spread of the virus. Over the past year, Ebola has killed nearly 1,900 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) across its Ituri and North Kivu provinces. Combatting the spread of the virus, and overcoming the deep-seated myths and superstitions surrounding it, means gaining the support of everyone - from Ebola survivors and travel agents to preachers and bus drivers. Many in these regions are constantly on the move in the pursuit of their livelihoods, going to markets and travelling to access goods and, in the process, they come into contact with countless others daily. Each of these encounters has the potential to spread the infection further.

Al Jazeera [Authors: Angela Wells and Muse Mohammed]

Feds Double Down on Ill Hanford Workers’ Court Ruling. They Will Appeal

The federal government is appealing a court ruling that upheld a new Washington state law that significantly eases requirements for ill Hanford workers to get state workers’ compensation. The Department of Justice recently filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In June, Judge Stanley Bastian ruled in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington that the state law that took effect in June 2018 did not violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as the federal government claimed.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

Thousands of Veterans Fear “Burn Pits” Exposed Them to Lethal Disease

Over 1.5 million American troops were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011. Many returned with visible scars of war – but for some, their injury is hidden. At some of the military bases throughout those regions, waste materials were disposed of in so-called "burn pits." Breathing fumes from the burn pit fires appears to have damaged the health of countless veterans. Air Force veteran Dan Jentik struggles with what most don't even think about: taking a breath. Jentik is part of a lung study at the National Jewish hospital in Denver. But he's also part of a much larger group: he was one of thousands of men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who may be sick or dying because they inhaled smoke from massive burn pits next to their bases.

CBS News

Heat Danger: As Summer Temperatures Increase in Rhode Island, So Do Risks for Those Who Work Outdoors

Sean J. Conley’s, 30, death, to labor safety advocates like James Celenza, executive director of the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, serves as a call to better protect Rhode Island laborers from dangerously high temperatures. Furthermore, the case reveals how current Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, which don’t explicitly mention heat, often leave employers uncertain as to what responsibilities they have in preventing heat illnesses.

Providence Journal [Author: Harry August]

Google Pitches Plan to Restore Silicon Valley’s Iconic Hangar One

The iconic Hangar One at Moffett Field is slated to undergo a five-year restoration effort that would eventually rehabilitate the former airship depot for future use. Under a new set of plans publicized this week, Google's subsidiary Planetary Ventures is proposing an extensive, $157 million operation to purge a variety of toxic compounds from the hangar's 200-foot-tall steel frame. The announcement of a cleanup plan has been a long time coming. In 2015, Google signed a 60-year lease with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames to take over 1,000 acres at Moffett Field. As part of that deal, Google officials pledged to eventually restore the Hangar One by cleaning up it structure and reskinning it with new siding.

Mountain View News [Author: Mark Noack]

Businesses Learn Hard Lessons When Not Prepared for Disaster

Small businesses have already contended this summer with earthquakes in Southern California and Hurricane Barry in the Gulf Coast, and the most intense portions of the Atlantic hurricane and Western wildfire seasons are still ahead. But many owners don’t prepare for potentially devastating natural disasters, leaving them to learn during a crisis what they should have done differently. And even companies that do plan can be unprepared for the unique circumstances of a particular disaster, no owner in New Orleans could have predicted they’d be unable to operate for months, even years, after Hurricane Katrina turned the city and some of its suburbs into a ghost town in 2005.

Associated Press [Author: Joyce Rosenberg]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

NLM Webinar: Are You Ready? Essential Disaster Health Information Resources for Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe”

This class covers National Library of Medicine (NLM) disaster health information and other emergency preparedness resources for community educators, families, friends and caregivers. Resources for special populations and those with special needs are highlighted. Audience: consumers, public and consumer health librarians, pre- hospital responders, health care professionals, first-responders, or disaster preparedness administrators. The webinar is Wednesday, August 28, 2019 2-3 pm ET.

Webinar Registration

Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities

Please join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program for a presentation and discussion with Dr. Katrina Korfmacher on her new book about how communities can collaborate across systems and sectors to address environmental health disparities; with case studies from Rochester, New York; Duluth, Minnesota; and Southern California. The event will be held on Sept. 16, 2019 1-2 pm ET at the U.S. EPA-RTP Main Campus in Durham, North Carolina.

Event Registration

Notice of Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant

This notice announces the availability of one $1,400,000 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant and solicits proposals from eligible entities to conduct research and provide technical assistance to new, existing, and/or prospective U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grantees. In addition to providing on-going technical assistance throughout the project period, the successful applicant will be responsible for developing an annual meeting to facilitate peer-to-peer networking and provide training to the EWDJT grantees. The award is anticipated to be funded incrementally on an annual basis over seven years, at approximately $200,000 per year. Proposals must be submitted through by 11:59 p.m. ET on September 20, 2019.

EPA Brownfields Grant

APHA Annual Meeting: Creating the Healthiest Nation: For Science. For Action. For Health.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a healthier nation. In light of today’s most pressing health issues, science and advocacy are the keys to developing health equity to improve the lives of people locally, nationally and worldwide. The American Public Health Association (APHA)’s Annual Meeting and Expo will be held November 2-6, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Annual Meeting gives more than 12,000 public health professionals an opportunity to put science and action to work to achieve a healthier nation.

Annual Meeting Registration

2019 EPA International Decontamination Research and Development Conference

Whether an industrial accident affecting water, or a viral outbreak such as African Swine Fever, or even a radiological accident like Fukushima, decontamination is one of the critical challenges facing our communities. When communities are faced with recovering from a major chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) incident, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes that result in contaminated waste, it is important to have all the relevant research and science available. 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 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 November 19-21, 2019 in Norfolk, VA.

Conference Details

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 December 3-5, 2019 in Baltimore, MD.

Conference Registration

2019 National Brownfields Training Conference

Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association, the National Brownfields Training Conference will take place December 10-13, 2019, in Los Angeles, CA at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Offered every two years, the conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. Registration is now available.

Conference Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

NEHA: Preparedness and Response for Septic Systems Toolkit

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) released a toolkit on preparedness and response for septic systems after disasters. The toolkit incorporates guidance documents for different types of disasters. Each guide focuses on steps septic system users can take before, during, and after a disaster to protect their health and maintain their system. A document containing general educational and safety resources for septic systems is also included to supplement the guidance resources. The NEHA toolkit is featured on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) All-Hazards Resources page.


NIEHS All-Hazards Resources

Bigger Companies Are Keeping Workers Healthier According to Recent Total Worker Health Study

Larger companies are doing a better job keeping employees safe and healthy in the workplace, suggesting that intensified efforts for intervention research need to target smaller businesses. This month, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine with the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported companies’ scores on an assessment of their Health Links mentoring program, aligned with the Total Worker Health approach.

Occupational Health and Safety

Study Finds Home Health Workers Often Face Verbal Abuse

A new study by university researchers shows that one in four home health care workers are verbally abused by clients and their families. The research, published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, is part of the university’s Safe Home Care Project, which is directed by Public Health Prof. Margaret Quinn and funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The study was led by public health student Nicole Karlsson, who recently completed her doctoral degree in work environment.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Home Care Aides’ Experiences of Verbal Abuse: A Survey of Characteristics and Risk Factors

Did North Dakota Regulators Hide an Oil and Gas Industry Spill Larger Than Exxon Valdez?

In July 2015 workers at the Garden Creek I Gas Processing Plant, in Watford City, North Dakota, noticed a leak in a pipeline and reported a spill to the North Dakota Department of Health that remains officially listed as 10 gallons, the size of two bottled water delivery jugs. But a whistle-blower has revealed to DeSmog the incident is actually on par with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, which released roughly 11 million gallons of thick crude. The Garden Creek spill “is in fact over 11 million gallons of condensate that leaked through a crack in a pipeline for over 3 years,” says the whistle-blower, who has expertise in environmental science but refused to be named or give other background information for fear of losing their job. They provided to DeSmog a document that details remediation efforts and verifies the spill’s monstrous size.

Desmog [Author: Justin Nobel]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process for Chemical Risk Management

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a new technical report on Chemical Risk Management. Occupational exposure limits (OELs) play a critical role in protecting workers and emergency response personnel from exposure to dangerous concentrations of hazardous materials. In the absence of an OEL, determining the appropriate controls needed to protect workers from chemical exposures can be challenging. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory currently contains over 85,000 chemicals that are commercially available, yet only about 1,000 of these have been assigned an authoritative (government, consensus, or peer reviewed) OEL.


W. Scott Mason IV appointed new EPA Director for the American Indian Environmental Office

W. Scott Mason IV has been appointed to serve as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new director for the American Indian Environmental Office (AIEO) in the agency’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs. In this new role, Scott will be responsible for AIEO’s mission to lead EPA’s efforts to protect human health and the environment in Indian country by supporting implementation of federal environmental law consistent with the federal trust responsibility and the government-to-government relationship, as found in the EPA Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations (1984).


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Assessing the Impact of Health and Safety Training: Increased Behavioral Change and Organizational Performance

Annual health and safety refresher training is mandated for workers in a number of employment sectors and also is used to maintain and enhance skills when not legally required. Authors Ruth Ruttenberg, Ph.D., an evaluation consultant, and Carol Rice, Ph.D., a WTP grantee, evaluated hazardous waste worker trainings impact on health and safety in their recent article published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

American Journal of Industrial Medicine

Job OpeningsBack to Top

PhD Scholarship in Political Communication at the Centre for Journalism, SDU

The PhD position at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) is embedded in the research program “The Perception and Communication of Risks of Pesticides and Biocides”. Professor David Hopmann is principal investigator of the project, funded by a grant from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. The project’s goals are delivering a detailed mapping of the scope and antecedents of (mis)perceptions about pesticides and biocides; and developing communication strategies on how to convey new information on the use and risks of pesticides so that negative consequences of possible misperceptions can be minimized.

PhD Position Posting

City of Austin Seeks Senior Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department provides, protects and preserves a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences for the Austin community. The position of Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Senior will work with department staff to promote workplace safety, increase awareness of workplace safety regulations, conduct statistical analysis to identify areas of growth, and help with the physical security of park facilities by auditing security contracts. In addition, this position will develop and conduct workplace safety training in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration training guidelines. The deadline to apply is Aug. 26, 2019.

Job Posting

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