December 6, 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.
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- On The Web This Week
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|Top Stories||Back to Top|
NIEHS Researchers Uncover Unknowns of Urban Wildfires
When wildfires move into urban areas, they burn homes and buildings, releasing toxic chemicals into the environment. Yet little is known about how exposure to urban wildfires affects human health. NIEHS-funded researchers are uncovering the unknowns of urban wildfires to better understand and protect people from these complex exposures. Funded through the NIEHS Time-Sensitive Research program, WHAT NOW California examines potential physical and mental health effects from the October 2017 Sonoma County fires, which burned more than 5,000 structures.
FDA Reluctant to Regulate Talc As Alarms Were Sounded
Over the past 50 years, the Food and Drug Administration has relied upon–and often deferred to–industry even as outside experts and consumers repeatedly raised serious health concerns about talc powders and cosmetics, a Reuters investigation found. Since the 1970s, the agency has downplayed the risk of asbestos contamination and declined to issue warnings or impose safety standards, according to documents produced in court proceedings. The agency said it lacks the authority to require manufacturers to test for asbestos in talc or report any results.
Reuters [Authors: Lisa Girion and Chad Terhune]
PG&E Failed to Inspect Transmission Lines That Caused Deadly 2018 Wildfire: State Probe
Bankrupt California power producer PG&E Corp (PCG.N) did not properly inspect and replace transmission lines before a faulty wire sparked a wildfire that killed more than 80 people in 2018, a probe by a state regulator has concluded. The Caribou-Palermo transmission line was identified as the cause of the Camp Fire last year, which virtually incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise and stands as the state’s most lethal blaze.
Reuters [Author: Kanishka Singh]
Investigation Raises Alarm About Handling of Worker Fatality at Indiana Amazon Facility
PBS conducted research into public injury records from 23 Amazon warehouses across the country. They indicate most warehouses had injury rates higher than the industry average. One particular incident in Indiana raises questions about how regulators and government officials deal with potential safety violations at the global company, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting reports.
PBS Newshour [Author: Will Evans]
Lawmakers Consider Higher Safety Standards for Cranes in Washington
In the wake of a deadly crane collapse, Washington lawmakers are considering stronger enforcement and higher fines for safety violations. The state Senate Labor and Commerce Committee held a work session on crane safety on Nov. 20 to address current standards. On April 17, a crane that was being dismantled in South Lake Union collapsed, killing four people. The state Department of Labor and Industries found that three companies committed serious safety violations, including prematurely removing parts of the crane, inadequately training staff, and lacking supervisors on site.
KING 5 Washington News [Author: Sammi Bushman]
New Guidance for Boom, Scissor Lifts to Boost Worker Safety
Companies operating and manufacturing mobile lifts soon will have new voluntary safety consensus standards to follow. The equipment, including boom and scissor lifts, frequently are used at industrial and construction sites to raise and lower workers and supplies. The updated standards (ANSI/SAIA A92) cover a wide range of safety-related concerns, from automatic warnings when machines are overloaded to training for occupants to handle emergencies, said Tony Groat, who helped write the new American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidance.
Bloomberg Environment [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]
Second Evacuation Order Lifted in Texas City Hit by Explosion, Chemical Fire
Authorities on Dec. 5 lifted a second evacuation order in a week for thousands of people in a Texas city as U.S. safety officials began examining what caused the latest in a series of chemical plant fires in the state. The about 14,000 residents of Port Neches 95 miles (153 km) east of Houston were told to flee late Dec. 4 when air monitors detected high levels of cancer causing petrochemicals butane and butadiene following an explosion last week. Butadiene is the main product of the TPC Group’s facility in the city struck by last week’s blast and fire, which injured three workers and prompted an initial, two-day evacuation.
Reuters [Author: Erwin Seba]
Don't Toss That E-Cig: Vaping Waste Is A Whole New Headache for Schools and Cities
Colorado topped the list for teen vaping in 2018, and Boulder is one of the hot spots. The surge in vaping has led to health problems but has also created a new environmental problem in discarded pens and the abundant pods that come with them. The disposable pod is a small plastic cartridge that holds the nicotine liquid. It snaps onto the base smoking device, often called a "vape pen," which can look like an actual pen or an innocuous digital accessory such as a flash drive.
WXXI Colorado News [Author: John Daley]
Samoa’s Capital Deserted As Teams Battle Measles Epidemic
The government told most public and private workers to stay home on Nov. 28-29 and shut down roads to nonessential vehicles as teams began going door-to-door to administer vaccines. Families in the Pacific island nation were asked to hang red flags from their houses if they needed to be vaccinated. Most of those who have died from the virus are young, with 54 deaths among children aged 4 or younger.
Associated Press [Author: Nick Perry]
|Calendar Features||Back to Top|
NACOSH Notice of Membership Meeting
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) will hold a meeting in Washington D.C. on Dec. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET. NACOSH is comprised of 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Labor who advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on matters relating to safety and health in the workplace. The Committee meets at least two times a year. Attendees who want to address NACOSH at the meeting must submit a request to speak, as well as any written or electronic presentation by Dec. 5.
NSC 2020 Congress and Expo Call for Papers
The National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo is the world's largest annual event for safety, health and environmental professionals. The event attracts decision makers, end users, and distributors from a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, petrochemical and utilities. They are currently accepting papers for their technical sessions and professional development seminars. Proposals must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2020.
NIH Seeks Data Policy Input
On Nov. 8, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing and supplemental draft guidance for public comment. The purpose is to promote data management and sharing that furthers NIH’s commitment to making results and accomplishments of the research it funds and conducts available to the public. Stakeholders may comment on any aspect of the draft policy, the supplemental draft guidance, or other considerations relevant to NIH’s data management and sharing policy efforts by Jan. 10, 2020.
PEPH 2020 Annual Meeting: Past, Present, and Future
The Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Annual Meeting will bring the environmental health network together to reflect on the past, discuss the present, and consider future opportunities. In addition to learning about strategies and approaches used to improve environmental public health, the PEPH2020 meeting will be an occasion to inform a new 10-year vision for the PEPH program in the context of the NIEHS Strategic Plan and the new Translational Research Framework. The meeting will be held Feb. 12-13, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina.
Spring 2020 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Hotel Information Available
Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, in conjunction with the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP), is sponsoring a workshop on Bio-Preparedness. The workshop will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, March 17-18, 2020. The workshop is tentatively scheduled from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 9:00 a.m. until noon on Wednesday. A limited number of rooms have been reserved at an area hotel for this meeting. Participants are encouraged to book their room early, as the block will fill up quickly.
|On The Web This Week||Back to Top|
Hanford Management Wants to Stop ‘Negative Trend’ on CH2M Worker Contamination
CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation must stop work in radiologically contaminated areas of Building 324 at the Hanford Site in Washington state until it gets a handle on troubling incidents of contamination, according to a recent order from the U.S. Department of Energy. The DOE’s Richland Operations Office “expects that workers at Hanford are protected from personnel radiological contamination while accomplishing our important Hanford mission,” according to the Nov. 14 letter from federal managers at the site to Ty Blackford, the cleanup contractor’s president and CEO.
Exchange Monitor [Author: Wayne Barber]
ARCO Is Taking a Fight Over Toxic-Waste Cleanup to the US Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a high-stakes case about corporations, hazardous waste, and paying to clean up pollution. The matter arises from a dispute between Montana landowners and the oil company Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) over the now-defunct Anaconda Smelter. The smelter was shut down in 1980, after about a century of use in refining copper ore for phone wires and power lines. In the years it was operational, its smokestacks spewed arsenic and lead over a 20,000-acre area of Big Sky Country, covering about five towns.
Quartz [Author: Ephrat Livni]
Acquired and Persistent Eldercare Demands: Impact on Worker Well-Being
A recent NIOSH-study was published on the Journal of Applied Gerontology. Eldercare demands (ECD) may result in stress when finite resources needed to fulfill life roles become scarce. ECD may be acquired, continue over time, or be relinquished. They thus may represent acute stress (immediate, severe) or chronic stress (persistent, milder). Workers at six U.S. manufacturing companies completed surveys. ECD were operationalized as providing assistance to an adult aged 65+ years due to disability or illness.
Pennsylvania Communities Grow Wary of Worsening Air Pollution as Petrochemical Industry Arrives
While the Ohio River Valley, long home to the coal and steel industries, is no stranger to air pollution, the region’s natural gas boom and burgeoning petrochemical industry threaten to erase the gains of recent decades. Concerns about air quality, which according to a recent study published the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that fine particulate pollution nationally has risen between 2016 and 2018, are growing rapidly for those living in the shadow of Shell’s $6 billion plastics plant under construction along the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County.
Desmog [Author: Julie Dermansky]
|Federal Agency Update||Back to Top|
100 Years of the Hard Hat, 100 Years of Safety
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the invention of the hard hat. The hard hat is one of the most recognizable pieces of safety equipment in the world. Hard hats were first worn by construction workers beginning in the 1920s. Over the years, hard hats have come to symbolize the strength of the construction industry and its workers. Hard hats are designed to protect workers from head injuries due to falling objects or overhead hazards by reducing the intensity and distributing the pressure of impacts to the head.
EPA and TCEQ Announce Story Map Resource
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announce an interactive resource to help keep the public updated and informed about the response activities for the TPC Group Plant Explosion in Port Neches, Texas. The resource, a collaborative, interactive “story map,” can be viewed on EPA’s website at response.epa.gov/south4groupfire. EPA and TCEQ’s response actions, as well as maps and photos are featured.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning||Back to Top|
Construction Workers Employed at DOE Nuclear Sites at Higher Risk of Cancer
A follow-up study by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) finds that workers in construction face a higher risk of developing cancers than the general U.S. population. Construction workers employed at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear sites across the U.S. are often exposed to multiple hazards during facility construction, maintenance or cleanup. Some of these hazards include radiation, asbestos, silica, metals and many other gasses and fumes.
For Construction Pros [Author: Brenda Echeverria]
Translational Research Framework Gains A Following
A tool created by NIEHS to help grantees track their environmental health research is proving useful to other organizations that want to evaluate the impact of their own research programs. The tool, called the Translational Research Framework, provides researchers with visual guideposts as they move projects along the path from basic research experiments to public health interventions.
NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Marla Broadfoot]
|Job Openings||Back to Top|
NIOSH Seeks Supervisory Research Industrial Hygienist
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are hiring a supervisory research industrial hygienist. The position will serve as the Deputy Director, supervisor, and senior technical advisor for research and public health activities to prevent work-related respiratory disease and optimize workers' respiratory health. The role will provide technical advice on scientific studies/surveys or projects to internal and external stakeholders, and assist in the establishment of guidelines, policies, and the development of recommendations for studies and analyses. The deadline to apply is Dec. 17.
California Department of Public Health Seeks Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
The Research Scientist II (RS II) is a team member in the multi-disciplinary research, occupational lead poisoning surveillance, and educational efforts of the Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. The RS II acts as a technical consultant to employers, workers, local health departments, and to Program and Branch staff to prevent occupational illness, disease, and injuries, with a particular emphasis on lead-using industries. The RS II conducts research involving the assessment and control of workplace exposures in lead-using industries, including conducting site visits, collecting sampling data, and recommending actions to improve lead safety. The deadline to apply is Dec. 18.
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