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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 28, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 28, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 28, 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

‘An Impossible Choice’: Farmworkers Pick a Paycheck Over Health Despite Smoke-Filled Air

As hundreds of fires burn across California, blanketing swaths of the state in smoke so thick that it muted the sun, low-wage farmworkers continued to toil in the fields, working through grueling conditions, now made even worse by the air quality. A vulnerable, essential labor force already disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic kept working as others fled and took shelter.

The Guardian [Author: Vivian Ho]

Upsurge In Depression And Suicide Among American Workers During The Pandemic And What Needs To Be Done

A study by Mental Health Index published this month shows the risk for depression among U.S. workers has risen an alarming 102% since February of this year. The escalating threat of developing depressive mood disorder shows little sign of abating, according to the study. Between June and July, the risk of depression climbed a staggering 31%.

Forbes [Author: Bryan Robinson]

‘Everything has Changed’: How Hurricane Preparations are Adapting to a Deadly Pandemic

There’s no playbook for fending off powerful hurricanes that hit in the midst of a pandemic—let alone one that arrives where the infection rate surged to one of the highest this summer. Officials guided by more than a century of hurricane preparedness have been forced to rewrite procedures this year to safeguard against spreading highly contagious COVID-19 along evacuation routes or in crowded shelters.

National Geographic [Author: Sarah Gibbens]

Debate Rages on for Nuclear Waste Facility Proposed Near Carlsbad, More Hearings Scheduled

A project to build a temporary storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in southeast New Mexico will continue to be debated as the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission scheduled four more public hearings to solicit public feedback on the proposal. Holtec International’s proposed consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) would temporarily hold spent nuclear fuel rods at the surface in an area near the Eddy-Lea county line.

Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]

Rigging Up: Program to Plug 400 Abandoned Oil Field Wells Kicks Off

The well sat idle until last week when Ham’s Well Service of Westhope, North Dakota, brought in a workover rig to begin the job of plugging the hole, ensuring that it will never produce oil again. Federal coronavirus relief dollars, funneled through the state, are providing paychecks for the four oil workers manning the small rig.

Bismarck Tribune [Author: Amy Sisk]

Why Empowering Frontline Workers Is a Key Element to a Safe Reopening

As the U.S. reopens despite the coronavirus continuing to ravage the country, workers across industries – from agriculture to airport security and meat processing – are getting sick. A century ago it was very common for people in the U.S. to fall ill or even die on the job. We are at risk of returning to a horrifying reality where earning a paycheck again means risking your life.

Fortune [Author: Sharon Block and Rachel Korberg]

Yep, Masks And Protective Gear Are Still Hard To Get – Especially For Small Buyers

Just like in March, when coronavirus cases spiked for the first time, some workers and employers across the country continue to face PPE shortages. Respirator masks, gloves, gowns, thermometers and other equipment are scarce. Demand has remained high, and prices have, too. Now it's not just hospitals, states and federal officials vying for the same PPE. Smaller operations without a lot of buying power are entering the market.

NPR [Author: Joel Rose]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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

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.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Chemical Safety Guidance For Customers

Along with identifying problems, distributors can also serve as a guide for determining the reliability and legitimacy of supplies. Relaxed requirements for manufacturing hand sanitizers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expands opportunities for facilities to procure hand hygiene supplies, but it also opens the door for ineffective products. Introducing those alternatives in sectors such as healthcare and hospitality provides an especially notable risk.

Clean Link [Author: James Degraff]

Safety Speak: U.S. Leading Causes of Death, Worker Virus Protection and Ladder Safety

In this mini Safety Speak podcast episode, Editor Sydny Shepard discusses the new leading cause of death in the U.S., Oregon's new Worker Virus Protection Rule, a new ladder safety grant and effective safety leadership.

Occupational Health and Safety

Wildfires and Worker Health

The U.S. Forest Service defines a wildfire as an “unplanned fire burning in natural (wildland) areas such as forests, shrublands, grasslands or prairies” caused by lightning, volcanoes, or unauthorized or incidental fires started by people. Wildfires can have an adverse health effect on workers, especially if they have the following conditions or factors: Respiratory, cardiovascular, age, and mental health.

Safety and Health Magazine [Author: Barry Bottino]

These States Aren’t Waiting for the Feds to Create COVID-19 Worker Safety Rules

In the absence of federal action, some left-leaning states are creating safety rules to protect workers from catching the coronavirus while on the job. Rules went into effect in Virginia last month, and regulators in California and Oregon are now debating a similar move. Unions and labor advocates have implored states to create coronavirus-specific safety standards.

PEW [Author: Sophie Quinton]

Scientists Test Creative Sandwich of Materials to Protect Against COVID-19 As Well as N95 Respirators

A media comprised of a sandwich of materials, tested by Sandia National Laboratories, is being manufactured into N95-like respirators that could be used in local medical facilities. The project originated from the urgent need for personal protective equipment when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

SciTech Daily

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

U.S. Department of Labor and FDA Develop Checklist to Protect Food Industry Employees Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have developed a checklist for human and animal food manufacturers to consider when continuing, resuming or reevaluating operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The checklist is useful for persons growing, harvesting, packing, manufacturing, processing or holding human and animal food regulated by FDA.


EPA Proposal Strengthens Regulations and Protects Children from Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Dust

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to reduce the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and windowsills after lead removal activities to better protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. The proposed, tighter standards would increase the effectiveness of work done to remove lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top Provides Free National Preparedness Month Resources for Social Media Use

September is National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” Disaster plans this year are affected by the pandemic’s social distancing requirements- namely the need for masks and other PPE, and the need to quarantine people if they are exposed to COVID-19. The Department of Homeland Security’s site has provided a week-by-week plan for National Preparedness Month that focuses on a different aspect of planning for disasters in your region.

Alabama Fire College Blog

IAFF Responds to Massive California Wildfire Outbreak

Nearly 11,000 lightning strikes over a 72-hour period have sparked approximately 370 wildfires across California, with dozens threatening communities. Because of the sheer volume of these fires, thousands of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) members and every available resource have been deployed to help with containment. Thousands have been evacuated and several homes have been lost, some belonging to IAFF members.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

NEHA Seeks Evaluation Coordinator

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is currently seeking an Evaluation Coordinator. The Evaluation Coordinator seeks to increase the use of rigorous monitoring and evaluation methods throughout the NEHA and to increase the quality and impact of NEHA’s decision-making through strengthened evaluation capacity.

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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