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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 13, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 13, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 13, 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.

Top StoriesBack to Top

Registration for Fall 2021 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Now Open

Registration for the semi-annual WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop is now open. The awardee meeting will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 19 and the workshop will be held the afternoons of Oct. 20 and 21. The topic of the workshop is “Advancing partnerships to improve worker health and safety.”

Meeting Website

Meeting Registration

DOE Spells Out Steps to Stem Rising COVID-19 Case Count Around Nuclear Sites

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is taking steps to implement White House policy to stem the tide of increasing COVID-19 infections by again ordering mask wearing indoors, giving more time off to have family members vaccinated and holding off on many in-person meetings.

Exchange Monitor [Author: Dan Leone]

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Updated Guidance on Protecting Unvaccinated and Other At-Risk Workers from the Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27.

OSHA

The Exodus of Federal Scientists Puts Our Safety and Health at Risk

The federal government’s scientific capacity took a serious hit over the past four years, as thousands of federal scientists were lost across five science-based agencies, as shown in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) recent report “The Federal Brain Drain," which Jacob Carter, senior scientist for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, helped author.

The Hill [Author: Jacob Carter]

The Federal Brain Drain Report

Virginia Board Hears Differing Opinions on Proposed Changes to the State's COVID-19 Workplace Rules

Virginia’s rules requiring employers to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace technically still remain in place, though many businesses continue to urge a full repeal. And Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed that businesses in compliance with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards should be considered compliant with the state rules.

Martinsville Bulletin [Author: John Reid Blackwell]

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Grows Shipments of Nuclear Waste As COVID-19 Appears to Recede

Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 meant slowing shipments of nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository near Carlsbad, as staffing was lowered to avoid infections of the virus. At the peak of the health crisis last winter, shipments declined to five a week – about half of the pre-pandemic shipment rate of about 10 per week.

Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]

'At A Pressure Point': Democrats Urge Biden Admin to Create Federal Heat Standard to Protect Workers

Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown and Alex Padilla are leading a call urging the Labor Department to establish a much-needed permanent federal heat stress standard. Legislators say that the department had previously announced it was adding it to the spring agenda. But as record summer heat has contributed to the deaths of farmworkers, senators say the danger facing workers is “at a pressure point.”

Daily Kos [Author: Gabe Ortiz]

We Don’t Know Exactly How Many People Are Dying from Heat — Here’s Why

Florencio Gueta-Varags’s death highlights a reality for farmworkers who experience extreme heat while at work. Heat-related deaths are a growing concern for anyone exposed to the elements for long periods of time, or whose health conditions or age make them particularly at-risk in extreme weather conditions, as climate change intensifies temperatures, researchers and advocates say.

PBS News Hour [Authors: Chloe Jones and Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado]

One State to Spend $130M in Federal Funds to Tackle ‘Systemic Barriers’ to Employment

To tackle barriers, along with issues of affordable housing, a lack of broadband access and others, the state of Wisconsin will invest $130 million of its American Rescue Plan Act allocation in three workforce development programs designed to address the conflicting problems of a worker shortage and the inability of businesses to fill vacancies.

Route Fifty [Author: Sharon O'Malley]

California Will Require Vaccines for Workers in Health Care Facilities

California is implementing what it calls the "first in the nation" requirement that health care workers statewide be vaccinated against COVID-19. The state is currently experiencing its fastest increase in coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic, with case rates "increasing ninefold in the last two months," according to the new order from the California Department of Public Health.

NPR [Author: Dustin Jones]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

NIEHS WTP COVID-19 Webinar Series: Practical Considerations for Using Portable Air Cleaners to Prevent Transmission of Infectious Aerosols

NIEHS WTP is hosting a webinar on Aug. 16 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET. In this webinar, participants will learn about 1) assessing ventilation systems within a building or space and 2) selection and use of portable air cleaner(s), when appropriate. English/Spanish interpretation will be available during this webinar.

WTP

Extreme Weather, Climate, and Health in Crisis Webinar

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, presented jointly with The World from PRX & GBH, will host a live online Q&A with Renee Salas, Yerby Fellow, C-CHANGE, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Emergency Medicine Physician. The webinar will be held on Aug. 17 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Building Upon Large-Scale Brownfield Investments to Rejuvenate a Community

The Maryland Department of Planning on behalf of the Smart Growth Network as well as support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields/Land Revitalization and Office of Community Revitalization staff are hosting a series of informative stories from communities of color near Chicago and Boston, as part of a six-part Smart Growth Network webinar series, Learning from (and Leaning on) Local Leaders to Revitalize African American Neighborhoods. The first webinar will be held on Aug. 18 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Information

Basics of Planning for an Infectious Disease Outbreak

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is hosting a webinar on infectious disease outbreaks. The Infectious Disease Preparedness Learning Community (IDLC) webinar is on the basics of planning for an infectious disease outbreak. Once the decision to conduct a field investigation of an acute outbreak has been made, working quickly is essential to protecting the health and wellness of Tribal communities. The webinar will be held on Aug. 19 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Workplace Heat Crisis Speakout

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) is moderating a webinar on workplace heat to highlight the longstanding crisis related to worker exposure to heat hazards in the workplace on Aug. 19 at 4:00 p.m. PT. This program is organized by Arizona COSH, in collaboration with National COSH. Arizona has experienced severe climate change in recent years, fueling the urgency to take action to save workers lives. This program will be bilingual, in English and Spanish.

Meeting Registration

Needs and Challenges in PPE Use for Underserved User Populations

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests information on the needs and challenges in personal protective equipment (PPE) use for underserved user populations. The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory is expanding its portfolio to include activities that consider the needs of U.S. worker populations who are underserved related to PPE. Comments must be submitted by Aug. 23.

Federal Register

Wearable Sensors for Occupational Health and Safety - Opportunities and Challenges

Wearable sensor technologies are used in several applications for everyday life at home and at work. The adoption of these technologies for occupational health and safety is increasing with the gradual, but consistent, evolution of personal monitors. This webinar will provide an introduction of wearable sensor technologies already in use for occupational health and safety and the ones that will soon be available. The webinar will be held on Aug. 26 at 2:00 p.m.

Webinar Registration

NIH RFI: Climate Change and Health

The Steering Committee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Climate Change and Human Health Working Group invites feedback on the approaches NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices can take to enhance research on the health implications of climate change in the United States and globally. This request for information (RFI) invites comments from diverse stakeholder groups that include scientific researchers, community advocates, clinicians, and policy makers. The deadline to comment is Aug. 30.

NIH

New Survey on Workplace Testing for COVID-19

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and partners are conducting a national survey asking business leaders about their experiences with workplace testing for COVID-19. The goal of the survey is to identify barriers and facilitators of COVID-19 testing in the workplace. The online survey is now open and will be available until Sept. 15.

NIOSH Online Survey

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers to Protect Workers from Unhealthy Air due to Wildfire Smoke

California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) is reminding employers that California’s protection from wildfire smoke standard requires them to take steps to protect their workers from unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke. Harmful air quality from wildfire smoke can occur anywhere in the state on short notice, so employers must be prepared before a wildfire event occurs.

Cal/OSHA

In Three Predominantly Black North Birmingham Neighborhoods, Residents Live Inside an Environmental ‘Nightmare’

Gerica Cammack was fleeing Collegeville, one of the three predominantly Black north Birmingham neighborhoods in the 35th Avenue Superfund site in Alabama. Collegeville, Harriman Park and Fairmont are archetypal “environmental justice” communities under a Biden administration executive order designed to deliver enhanced benefits in such areas disproportionately harmed by pollution or the adverse effects of climate change.

Inside Climate News [Author: Julia Benbrook and Augusta Saraiva]

Countering the Opioid Crisis: Time to Act Podcast

The Countering the Opioid Crisis: Time to Act podcast is hosted by Ruth Katz, Vice President and the Executive Director of the Health, Medicine, and Society Program at the Aspen Institute and co-chair of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative. The third episode is on racism and the American opioid epidemic.

National Academy of Medicine

IPCC Climate Report: The Arrival of the Natural Disaster Movie Age?

When it comes to contemplating natural disasters today, hope of a soothing resolution is all too rare. Every six to seven years since 1990, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) releases its assessment of the scientific knowledge on the subject – with progressively more alarming warnings.

New Statesman [Author: India Bourke]

Wind Farm Developer Plans to Bring Manufacturing Back to Baltimore’s Sparrows Point

A wind farm developer plans to bring steel production back to Sparrows Point, establishing a manufacturing hub to serve the growing wind energy industry that would start with a proposed expansion of offshore turbines in Ocean City. US Wind, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of Italian renewable energy firm Renexia SpA, announced its vision for 90 waterfront acres at Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre logistics center in Baltimore County, where it plans to assemble turbine components and start a company called Sparrows Point Steel.

Washington Post [Author: Lorraine Mirabella]

Upcoming Heat Wave Puts Oregon’s New Worker Protection Rules to The Test

Another heat wave is forecast this week, putting the test to Oregon’s temporary excessive heat rules. The National Weather Service forecasts that starting Aug. 11, at least three successive triple-digit days will hit west of the Cascades and some parts of northeast Oregon. Though not as hot as the heat wave in late June, there’s a small chance some areas will be blasted with temperatures as high as 110 degrees.

OPB [Author: Monica Samayoa]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index

The U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), which can be used to apply a health equity lens to research, strategic planning, program design, and evaluation related to response and recovery for COVID-19 and other public health emergencies. OMH launched a new Minority Health SVI Microsite that includes information and resources on how to use the SVI.

Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index

OSHA and NIOSH Revise Workplace Safety Handbook

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) teamed up with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to revise a workplace safety handbook for small business employers. The Small Business Safety and Health Handbook details how to implement an effective safety and health program, including self-inspection checklists for employers to identify workplace hazards and review safety and health resources for small businesses.

EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Jay Kumar]

EPA Sunsets Temporary Guidance on Respiratory Protection for Agricultural Pesticide Handlers During COVID-19

In June 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued temporary guidance that offered flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency to agricultural employers and pesticide handlers regarding respiratory protection requirements related to pesticide uses covered by the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Due to improvements in access to NIOSH-approved respirators, fit testing supplies and related services, EPA is terminating the June 2020 guidance and its May 2021 amendment, effective August 19, 2021.

EPA

EPA Asked to Stop Barring Employees from Sharing Scientific Findings With Each Other

A group is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scrap a directive that prohibits some scientists from discussing their work amongst themselves, saying the current system prevents workers from properly protecting the public from potentially hazardous materials.

Government Executive [Author: Eric Katz]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Hanford Mission Integration Solutions HAMMER Wins Award

The HAMMER Federal Training Center team will be honored with a 2021 Safety and Health Outreach Award later this month at the VPPPA Safety Symposium! The award recognizes the team’s effort to retool, restart and safely operate HAMMER during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hanford Mission Integration Solutions

UW Physics Professor Receives Grant to Study Nuclear Waste

University of Washington physics professor Gerald Seidler received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create concrete waste caskets to dispose of nuclear fuel byproducts in collaboration with Sarah Saslow from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

Daily UW [Author: Julie Emory]

Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted virtual public listening sessions on June 16 and July 8. The goals of the sessions were to solicit comments and suggestions from stakeholders pertaining to the review of EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) regulation revisions completed since 2017 and to address new priorities, as directed under Executive Order 13990: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. Former Chemical Safety Board Member Rick Engler and Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA provided comment to the notice. Their comments are available online.

Regulations.gov

Comments by Rick Engler

Job OpeningsBack to Top

Make the Road New York Seeks Safe and Just Cleaners Campaign Associate

Make the Road New York is hiring an associate for its Safe and Just Cleaners Study. The Safe and Just Cleaners Study is a community-based participatory research partnership funded by NIEHS. The study is collecting data on domestic cleaners’ chemical exposures and other working conditions to develop safer cleaning approaches to reduce exposure for cleaners and their clients.

Job Posting

EDF Seeks Director of Chemical Policy

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is hiring a Director of Chemical Policy. The director is responsible for directing and managing the execution of the Health Program’s chemical policy priorities to drive significant reductions in the use of and exposure to toxics across the supply chain using the Toxic Substances Control Act, with a particular focus on protecting high-risk populations and communities.

Job Posting

UCLA-LOSH Job Opportunities

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) offers exciting opportunities for individuals who are passionate about promoting workplace safety and health in Southern California. They are currently hiring a Project Coordinator and two Program Assistants to support LOSH activities and training initiatives.

Job Posting

Northeastern University Seeks Positions in EHS

Northeastern University has new positions within the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). EHS manages and implements a comprehensive set of programs for all faculty, staff and students at Northeastern University. The goal of EHS is to provide consultation to the many different departments so that a safe and healthful working environment is maintained.

Biosafety Program Manager and University Biosafety Officer

Biosafety Specialist II

Chemical and Process Safety Program Manager

Laboratory Safety Specialist II

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