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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: December 4, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, December 4, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

December 4, 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

NOSI: Promoting Health, Safety, and Recovery Training for COVID-19 Essential Workers and their Communities

NIEHS published a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) for the purpose to provide support for successful applicants to develop partnerships with local worker centers and community organizations specifically targeting under served and disadvantaged communities with higher than average COVID-19 transmission rates. The deadline to apply is Dec. 30.


Special Report: U.S. Air Monitors Routinely Miss Pollution - Even Refinery Explosions

One of the explosions was so large that a National Weather Service satellite captured images of the fireball from space. Refinery owner Philadelphia Energy Solutions later told regulators that the blasts released nearly 700,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals, including butane and hydrofluoric acid. Yet the federal air quality index (AQI) score for south Philadelphia showed that day as one of the year’s cleanest, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Reuters [Authors: Tim McLaughlin, Laila Kearney, and Laura Sanicola]

Once in A Lifetime Floods to Become Regular Occurrences by End of Century

Superstorm Sandy brought flood-levels to the New York region that had not been seen in generations. Causing an estimated $74.1 billion in damages, it was the fourth-costliest U.S. storm behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017 according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


SRS Implements Innovative Emergency Preparedness Drills During Pandemic

The Savannah River Site (SRS) has launched innovative methods to ensure emergency preparedness drills continue in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The site’s Emergency Response Organization has been able to continue conducting its drills while strengthening its ability to respond to emergencies by implementing methods focused on remote workers and small groups of employees onsite.

Aiken Standard [Author: Angie Benfield]

Before Disasters Hit California, These Workers Get the Word Out In Many Languages

Last year, organizations and dozens of other nonprofits received grant money from the state as part of a $50-million outreach program called Listos California. The mission: prepare Latinos and other vulnerable groups for major disasters. This year, a slower but deadlier disaster demanded the groups’ attention: the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Ruben Vives]

New Analysis: Employers Stand to Save an Average of $8,500 for Supporting Each Employee in Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder

As substance use disorders across the country rise, so do the potential costs to employers if they ignore the issue, but addressing it can lead to significant savings. According to new research released by the National Safety Council and NORC at the University of Chicago, the annual average additional costs to an employer for each worker with an untreated substance use disorder (SUD) have risen 30% in just three years. To help employers understand how substance misuse impacts their bottom lines – and what they can save by addressing it – NSC and NORC at the University of Chicago have updated the Substance Use Cost Calculator, funded by Nationwide, with the new data and analysis.

Press Release

Substance Use Disorder Calculator

Scores of Worker COVID-19 Deaths Not Reported Amid U.S. Regulator's Lenient Approach

State and federal laws say facilities like Ludeman in Illinois are required to alert Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials about work-related employee deaths within eight hours of learning about the death. But facility officials did not deem the first staff death on April 13 work-related, so they did not report it. They made the same decision about the second and third deaths.

The Guardian [Authors: Aneri Pattani, Robert Lewis, and Christina Jewett]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

NIEHS WTP Webinar Series: Preventing COVID-19 Exposures During Natural Disasters

The NIEHS Worker Training Program Fall/Winter Webinar Series presents a 90-minute webinar in partnership with the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, Subcommittee on Environmental Justice and Natural Disasters on Dec. 7 at 2:00 p.m. ET. This webinar accompanies the new release of the joint AIHA/NIEHS Guidance to Protect Volunteers From COVID-19 During Natural Disaster Response and Recovery.

Guidance to Protect Volunteers From COVID-19 During Natural Disaster Response and Recovery

Meeting Registration

NIEHS WTP Webinar Series

Essential Workers in the Time of COVID-19 with Photojournalist Earl Dotter

Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center (ERC) for Occupational Safety and Health is sponsoring a webinar titled, “Essential Workers in the Time of COVID-19.” This will feature photojournalist Earl Dotter, who will also show a history of the use of personal protective equipment. The webinar will be held on Dec. 7 at 12:10-1:20 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Data, Professional Judgment, and Modeling in Occupational Exposure Assessment Webinar

Exposure underestimates are a professional and ethical issue for Industrial Hygienists. This presentation, hosted by Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health, will discuss the lack of adequate monitoring data for decision-making in industrial hygiene (IH), the over-reliance on professional judgment, and the limitations of professional judgments. The webinar will be held Dec. 8 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Saving Lives, Protecting Workers Webinar Series

The New Jersey Work Environment Council is hosting a webinar series. In the next webinar, Les Leopold, Executive Director of The Labor Institute and author of Covid-19’s Class War, will discuss the race and class dynamics of Covid-19, including workplace exposure, health outcomes, and some measures we can take collectively to reduce risks and improve the outcomes of all workers. The webinar will be held on Dec. 8 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Interventions and Communication Strategies to Reduce Health Risks of Wildland Fire Smoke Exposures

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking applications proposing research that will address behavioral, technical, and practical aspects of interventions and communication strategies to reduce exposures and/or health risks of wildland fire smoke. This funding opportunity will seek to understand what actions might be effective for reducing adverse health outcomes and how best to communicate this to various groups. Applications are due by Dec. 15.


Fatigue in the Workplace: Effects on Health and Performance and Measurement Considerations Webinar

A leading cause of non-fatal work injuries is overexertion and bodily reaction. What is less understood is the role fatigue plays as a contributing factor. Fatigue in the workplace is a multidimensional process that results in diminished worker performance and is often underappreciated and unrecognized. This webinar will present an overview of worker fatigue and how it may be defined, examine ramifications on worker health and performance, and identify measurement considerations. The webinar will be held Dec. 16 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Save the Date: Brownfields 2021

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a networking and learning environment for the brownfields community. Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and having these considerations in mind, Brownfields 2021 will be rescheduled from its current April dates. Brownfields 2021 will now be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Sept. 27-30, 2021.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Feds Speed Sale of Three Mile Island Unit Amid State Concern About Decommissioning

Federal regulators plan to approve the sale of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2, the nuclear reactor that partially melted down in 1979, despite concern by state officials over the new owner’s ability to pay for decommissioning.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Author: Wallace McKelvey]

Dangerously Fast Slaughter Speeds Are Putting Animals, People at Greater Risk During COVID-19 Crisis

The alarming spread of COVID-19 among slaughterhouse employees has exposed massive vulnerabilities in our food system, especially when it comes to the speed of production at these facilities. Rather than suspend line speed increases to better accommodate social distancing, since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allowed a record number of slaughter plants to significantly increase line speeds.

The Hill [Author: Matt Bershadker]

Biden Names Workplace Safety Expert to COVID-19 Task Force

In a move heralded as a win for worker safety, President-elect Joe Biden added a prominent workplace health expert to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. David Michaels is an epidemiologist and professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He served as assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health from 2009 to January 2017.

HR Dive [Author: Jenn Goodman]

Lessons in Handling Health Crises the U.S. Can Learn from AIDS Epidemic

On World AIDS Day, NPR's Ari Shapiro spoke with Steven Thrasher, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, about lessons from the AIDS crisis that can be applied to the coronavirus pandemic.


‘We Must Protect Our Water’: B.C. Ranchers Wage Battle Over Radioactive Fracking Waste

Water is everything to the Peace River region’s ranchers and farmers in British Columbia, Canada. But it’s also everything to the region’s natural gas industry. And as that industry rapidly expands its water-intensive fracking operations, farmers fear their critical water sources could dry up or become poisoned.

The Narwhal [Author: Ben Parfitt]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Watchdog: U.S. Nuclear Dump Facing Space, Staffing Challenges

The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump could run out of room if the number of drums shipped to the New Mexico site keeps expanding or if a new method for measuring the waste is unraveled as part of a pending legal challenge, according to a nonpartisan congressional watchdog.

Associated Press [Author: Susan Montoya Bryan]

Government Accountability Office Report

$11 Million in Technical Assistance Grant Funding Available to EJ and Brownfields Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to provide technical assistance to communities and stakeholders to help address their brownfield sites, and to increase their understanding and involvement in brownfields cleanup, revitalization, and reuse. The deadline to apply is Dec. 22.


Watchdog Finds EPA Reopening Plans Largely Follow CDC, But Were Inconsistent

After maximizing teleworking during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should review the disparities among location-specific reopening plans before entering the final reopening phase, according to an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released on Nov. 30.

Government Executive [Author: Courtney Buble]


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR is also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

MCN Seeks Program Manager for Occupational and Environmental Health

Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is hiring a full time Program Manager for our Occupational and Environmental Health Division. This position is responsible for supporting and advancing MCN's mission with an emphasis on projects addressing Environmental Health, Worker Health and Safety, Children’s Health, COVID-19, and Community Mobilization.

Job Posting

OAI Seeks Director for Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Training Programs

Chicago-based Opportunity, Advancement, Innovation in Workforce Development (OAI) is looking for an exceptional Occupational Safety, Industrial Hygiene, or Public Health professional to lead OAI’s nationwide worker health and safety training programs. These programs address the needs of first responders, underrepresented workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

Job Posting

ICWUC Seeks Center Director Position

The International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) seeks applications for the position of Center Director (CD) at its Center for Worker Health and Safety Education, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Center is operated by the ICWUC in cooperation with eleven other major unions and organizations.

Job Posting

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