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NIEHS WTP: August 4, 2023 Newsbrief

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Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 4, 2023

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 4, 2023

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

As Wildfires Burn, Scientists Race to Understand the Health Dangers of Prolonged Exposure

It’s well-established that short, intense exposures to wildfire smoke can exacerbate respiratory problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and aggravate pre-existing heart issues, causing surges in hospital visits. Much less is known, though, about the accumulated risks of living and breathing in even mildly smoky conditions day after day.

Stat News [Author: Megan Molteni]

46 Million Americans Struggle with Substance-Use Disorder. It’s Time for Bosses to Stop Ignoring Them

The Biden administration has put its weight behind the notion that businesses can and should help address the nation’s opioid and overdose epidemics. It encourages employers to provide “recovery-ready” workplaces and encourages states to join the effort. Employers who are taking part say they’re motivated by human decency, but also by self-interest: It’s a bet that supportive workplaces will help them build loyal, stable workforces at a time when labor is distressingly scarce. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers some guidance on its Recovery-Ready Workplace resource hub and provides materials to get started.

Fortune (subscription required) [Author: Erika Fry]

DOL Resource Hub

The CDC Sees Signs of a Late Summer COVID Wave

The amount of coronavirus being detected in wastewater, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus and the number of people seeking care for COVID-19 at emergency rooms all started increasing in early July 2023, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NPR [Author: Rob Stein]

Hospitals Weigh How to Make Hospitals Safe. Will New Tech Like AI Or Old Solutions Make a Difference?

Following increases in both aggression towards nurses and mass shootings, stakeholders are debating whether new tech or old solutions can make a difference. Texas-based University Medical Center announced this month that it has deployed an AI-based gun detection system. Protesting nurses in Colorado, meanwhile, say protections against guns are far lower on their safety to-do list, below things like improved nurse-to-patient ratios.

Fierce Healthcare [Author: Annie Burky]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Participate in Safe + Sound Week 2023: August 7-13 

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America's workers safe. This year Safe + Sound Week will provide resources for businesses on mental health and well-being and will be posted before the start of Safe + Sound Week.  

Event Information  

PEPH Webinar: Environmental Public Health Mobile Apps – Session One 

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) presents a webinar discussing two projects improving environmental public health using mobile apps. The app discussed in this session will highlight wildfire smoke exposure and effective response processes for hazardous material situations. The webinar will be held on August 10, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.  

Event Registration

Department of Labor Seeks Nominations for Membership to National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) invites nominations to fill one Health and Human Service Administration (HHS)-designated public representative and one HHS-designated occupational health professional representative. The Secretary of Labor will appoint members designated by the Secretary of HHS. The members will serve two-year terms beginning Nov. 16, 2023. Submit nominations by August 30, 2023.

OSHA Trade Release

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

‘We’re Not the Place’: Yuma County Residents Fight Hazardous Waste Permit

An online petition to stop a Yuma waste company’s proposal to start managing hazardous materials has received more than 4,300 signatures just weeks before Yuma County officials are scheduled to vote on a special use permit for the company. Many Yuma residents want to stop the county from approving the proposal, saying they’re worried about toxic chemicals potentially contaminating their air, land, and water.

AZPM News [Author: Ole Braatelien]

Silicosis Among Immigrant Engineered Stone (Quartz) Countertop Fabrication Workers in California

In California, silicosis associated with occupational exposure to dust from engineered stone primarily occurred among young Latino immigrant men. Many patients had presented with severe disease, and some cases were fatal. Silicosis associated with inhalation of respirable crystalline silica among engineered stone countertop fabrication workers is an emerging health concern.

JAMA Network (subscription required)

Report: Cities and Counties Must Prioritize Workforce Development to Meet Clean Energy Infrastructure Goals

Beyond the actual construction of infrastructure, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act funding is intended to support workforce development and address a lack of skilled tradespeople by creating training programs, fostering collaborations, and launching recruitment and retention norms that continue long after the money dries up. While the funding is temporary, administratively, the workforce challenge is a long-term and complex problem. Some cities understand this problem better than others.

American City and Country

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Department of Labor Announces Hazard Alert, Steps Up Enforcement as Extreme Heat Endangers Workers Across the Nation

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a heat hazard alert to remind employers of their obligation to protect workers against heat illness or injury in outdoor and indoor workplaces. Also, OSHA will intensify its enforcement where workers are exposed to heat hazards, with increased inspections in high-risk industries like construction and agriculture.

OSHA News Release

Coast Guard: Clarifying Emergency Policies and Assessing Needs Could Improve Unit Disaster Preparedness

Coast Guard field personnel serve as first responders for natural and human-made disasters. Agency policies about maintaining emergency food and water for field personnel are unclear. For example, Coast Guard disaster preparedness policies do not identify a clear requirement for field units to maintain emergency food and water for their personnel. As a result, many of the Coast Guard field units the Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed reported they did not maintain these supplies.

GAO Report

EPA Advances Asbestos Part 2 Risk Evaluation, Seeks Peer Review on White Paper

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a white paper as part of its Toxic Substances Control Act Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2 - Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos for public comment and peer review. The white paper presents EPA’s quantitative approach for the human health assessment for part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos, which will include all fiber types and legacy uses. The agency will release the draft risk evaluation for asbestos part 2 for public comment in early 2024.

EPA News Release

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

AFSCME Model Management Plan for Heat Illness Prevention

This American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) fact sheet describes one model management plan to protect workers from heat hazards, whether working inside or out. Best practices emphasize recognizing heat hazards and risk of illness for each task. Heat Illness Prevention Plans must include engineering controls to cool people off and make sure they stay hydrated.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

State of Washington Seeks a L&I Safety & Health Specialist

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) Senior Safety & Health Research Specialist will be responsible for researching what makes workplace safety and health education, training, and communication and messaging effective. In this position the candidate will conduct evaluation research with the intent of helping prioritize and modify current and future education, training, and communication approaches to be more effective.

Job Posting

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