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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 21, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 21, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 21, 2020

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

Some Radioactive Savannah River Site Waste Headed to Texas

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to send a few gallons of radioactive wastewater from a South Carolina nuclear reservation to Texas, where it will be treated and disposed. The Aiken Standard reports the upcoming move will expedite the cleanup of nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site operated by DOE. The transfer follows an Energy Department decision to re-interpret the definition of “high-level radioactive waste."

Idaho Statesman

Federal Court of Appeals Upholds State Law Helping Hanford Workers

The state of Washington has a right to create laws that make it easier for ill workers at the Hanford site to get workers’ compensation, said a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 19. The three judges on the panel unanimously ruled for the state of Washington after the federal government asked that a state law passed in 2018 easing compensation requirements at the nuclear reservation be overturned.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

Iowa "Hurting" After Powerful Storm as Governor Seeks Nearly $4 Billion in Disaster Aid

Iowa homes, cornfields, utility companies and government agencies have losses estimated at nearly $4 billion from last week's unusual storm, Governor Kim Reynolds said on Aug. 16. The governor announced she's filing an expedited presidential major disaster declaration with the federal government seeking that much money to rebuild and repair.

CBS News

The Trip That Changed Everything for an EPA Pioneer

Clarice Gaylord was the first director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice. This article dives into Gaylord’s trip to New Orleans, which influenced her work in the future. This article is part of an ongoing series.

E&E News [Author: Hannah Northey]

Work Ongoing at U.S. Nuclear Repository Despite Virus Cases

Managers of the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico say operations are ongoing despite a recent increase in COVID-19 cases among workers. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has seen cases among workers more than double in the last week, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

Nebraska Journal Star

Summer Was Always a Heat and Health Risk for UPS Workers. Then Came COVID-19.

Business has soared for UPS as Americans have turned to home delivery during the pandemic, but employees say heavy workloads, COVID-19 safety measures and sweltering summer heat are pushing them to the limit. Twenty UPS workers around the country told NBC News that since spring they’ve been dealing with the volume of packages they see during their peak season, the Christmas rush, if not more.

NBC News [Author: Adiel Kaplan and Lisa Riordan Seville]

Low-Wage Workers Face Retaliation for COVID-19 Safety Demands

Coronavirus cases have surged in California over the last two months, fueled by the reopening of the economy. Although public health officials say making workplaces safer is essential to slowing the virus’ spread, fear of retaliation is preventing many employees from voicing safety concerns, workers and labor organizers say. The toll has been particularly hard on essential workers, a sizable percentage of whom are people of color toiling in factories, hospitals, retail establishments, hotels and agricultural fields across the state.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Leila Miller]

‘They Deserve to Be Heard’: Sick and Dying Coal Ash Cleanup Workers Fight for Their Lives

For almost six years, Doug Bledsoe, along with roughly 900 others, helped clean up the nation’s largest coal ash spill an hour west of his doorstep. TVA’s own testing showed the utility knew the coal ash — waste material leftover from burning coal for electricity — contained toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium, and radioactive materials, decades before the spill; an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution report from early 2009 shows TVA tested for radioactivity in ash and soil samples two weeks after the spill occurred and EPA found spikes in radiation above background levels.

Southerly [Author: Austyn Gaffney]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Cal/OSHA Webinar on the Use of Elastomeric Respirators in Health Care Settings

As the COVID-19 crisis in California enters its eighth month, many health care facilities and individual providers are considering using elastomeric respirators as a more reliable and sustainable means of respiratory protection. California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) will host a webinar on Aug. 26 at 10:00-11:30 a.m. PT that will provide information on how elastomeric respirators function to protect against COVID-19.

Webinar Registration

New Request for Applications to Support Equitable Development & Environmental Justice in Brownfields Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to provide direct technical assistance to communities nationwide on the integration of environmental justice and equitable development when developing solutions to brownfields cleanup and revitalization challenges. The application submission deadline is Sept. 21.


New Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to deliver Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in the environmental field. The closing date is Sept. 22.

EPA EWDJT Information

Southeast PEHSU and Break the Cycle of Health Disparities Training Program

The Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) at Emory University and Break the Cycle of Health Disparities, Inc. invites university students from a variety of disciplines to participate in our 16th Annual Break the Cycle of Children’s Environmental Health Disparities training program. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

More Information

Request for Information on Federal Coordination To Promote Economic Mobility for All Americans

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is publishing this Request for Information (RFI) to seek public input until Oct. 2 on the development of a federal interagency Council on Economic Mobility (Council). HHS and the Council will analyze information collected in this RFI to gather feedback from our stakeholders to better inform the Council's priorities and how the Council can promote economic mobility, recovery, and resilience.

Federal Register

Save the Date: Fall 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration!

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is offering a virtual seminar that will cover the NIH grant process. If you’re new to working with the NIH grants process as an investigator or administrator, then mark your calendar for Oct. 27-30 for a unique opportunity to learn, share and meet virtually with NIH and HHS experts.

NIH Extramural Nexus

JOEH Seeks Submissions for Special Issue on Health Equity in the Workplace

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) plans to publish a special issue on health equity in the workplace in May 2021. For this special issue, the journal seeks research on a range of topics, including how racial inequities affect workplace exposures and the effects of gender inequity on worker exposures and outcomes. The deadline to submit is Oct. 30.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

California Issues First Rolling Blackouts Since 2001 As Heat Wave Bakes Western U.S.

California electricity providers instituted rolling blackouts on Aug. 14 – the first since 2001 – as an intense and prolonged heat wave settled over much of the Western U.S. Hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have experienced brief power outages through the evening, after the body that manages most of the state's electric utilities declared a Stage 3 emergency to help reduce stress on the larger grid.

NPR [Author: Nathan Rott]

Forest Fires Are Setting Chernobyl’s Radiation Free

The forest burned intensely for 90 minutes, releasing cesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium-238, -239, and -240 in blasts of smoke and heat. In just one hour, the firefighters could have been exposed to more than triple the annual radiation limit for Chernobyl’s nuclear workers.

The Atlantic [Author: Jane Braxton Little]

Leaving Jail, Kicking Heroin, and Then Facing the Pandemic

In April, Rob Camidge was released from a short stint in jail and right into a pandemic. He’s finding a semblance of stability at a nonprofit for the formerly incarcerated called the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, where those who have dealt with incarceration and addiction are pouring into their offices, telling stories about how the recent pandemic worsened the health emergency that was already here: opioid addiction.

Gothamist [Author: Matt Katz]

Lawmakers Call on OSHA to Update Ammonium Nitrate Standard

Three U.S. lawmakers are calling on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to update its ammonium nitrate standard in the wake of the deadly Beirut explosion earlier this month. The representatives submitted a letter on Aug. 18 to U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, noting that the current ammonium nitrate standard is nearly 50 years old and the Process Safety Management Standard, which protects workers from chemical plant catastrophes, is nearly 30 years old.

Business Insurance

Governor Cuomo Announces Environmental Justice Capacity-Building Grant Award Winners

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York's Environmental Justice Capacity Building Grant Program is awarding grants to support 18 community-based Environmental Justice organizations across the state. The grants will help groups in New York's communities disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution to increase their administrative, technical and programmatic capacities to expand public health services and the environment.

News Release

Oregon OSHA Proposes Temporary Rule to Address COVID-19 in All Workplaces

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing a temporary rule that would combat the spread of coronavirus in all workplaces by requiring employers to implement risk-reducing measures. Those measures include social distancing, barriers, face coverings, cleanings, and information sharing. Oregon OSHA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Aug. 31.

Oregon OSHA

Oregon OSHA Temporary Rule

Report Shows Clean Energy is a Leading Creator of Quality Jobs in Pennsylvania, and Benefit Workers, the Economy and Environment

The Pennsylvania Governor’s Office released the 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report, showing that clean energy is a leading creator of quality jobs in Pennsylvania. The sector added 7,794 jobs in 2017-19, for an 8.7 percent average job growth rate, compared to 1.9 percent average overall job growth in the state.

News Release

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

U.S. Department of Labor and North American Meat Institute Establish Alliance to Protect Meatpacking Workers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has signed an alliance with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) to provide information, guidance and access to training resources for protecting workers in the meatpacking and processing industry from exposures to the coronavirus.


EPA Calls for Nominations for 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. These prestigious awards recognize innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances. Nominations are due Dec. 4.


New DOL OIG Report on OSHA Whistleblower Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a new report on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whistleblower program. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the safety and health of workers. The report found the pandemic has significantly increased the number of whistleblower complaints OSHA has been receiving. OSHA was challenged to complete investigations in a timely manner before the pandemic, and the potential exists for even greater delays now.

OIG Report

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Bill to Establish Presumptive Benefit for COVID-19 Is Now Law

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) legislation to ensure fire fighters who die or are permanently and totally disabled due to COVID-19 receive full federal benefits officially became law. The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 establishes a presumptive benefit under the Public Safety Officer Benefit program for public safety officers who contract COVID-19.


ACGIH White Paper on Ventilation for Industrial Settings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Industrial Ventilation Committee presents a white paper. The white paper includes recommended practices as guidance for occupational and environmental health and safety professionals and others as they seek to mitigate exposure for their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

J&J Seeks Director of Global Public Health Policy

Johnson & Johnson’s seeks a director of global public health policy for their Global Public Health team. The Worldwide Government Affairs & Policy shapes the global policy environment so Johnson & Johnson can deliver innovative and sustainable solutions for patients and consumers and deliver measurable impact on our business objectives. The position will develop and implement strategies to advance J&J's global public health and global health security objectives in the U.S.

Job Posting

BlueGreen Alliance Seeks Director of Workplace and Environmental Health and Equity

The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) is hiring for a director of workplace and environmental health and equity. The director will develop, educate, and advocate for occupational and environmental health and safety improvements in federal policies and in the states where BGA is actively engaged.

Job Posting

MCN Seeks Program Manager for Occupational and Environmental Health

Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is hiring a full time Program Manager to join the Occupational and Environmental Health Division and Puerto Rico Office, located in San Juan, PR. This position is responsible for managing health-related programs in Puerto Rico that focus on underserved and vulnerable populations and the clinicians who serve them. The position is open until filled.

Job Posting

Farmworker Justice Seeks Occupational Safety and Health Coordinator

Farmworker Justice (FJ) is hiring a highly qualified individual for the Occupational Safety and Health Project Coordinator position to support FJ’s health promotion, occupational safety and health, and capacity-building projects. The position provides an exciting and unique opportunity to provide technical and programmatic support to farmworker-serving organizations nationwide.

Job Posting

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