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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: December 11, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, December 11, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

December 11, 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

WTP Fall 2020 Workshop Website Is Now Available

Participants from the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) gathered virtually for their semi-annual workshop on Sept. 23-24 to discuss strategies to enhance and unify efforts for the next five years. The WTP Fall 2020 website is now available with the meeting recording, presentations including the keynote address from Linda Rae Murray, M.D., and additional resources.

WTP Fall 2020 Workshop

Three Months After the Fire, Malden’s Recovery Effort Is on the Shoulders of Local Leaders

On Labor Day weekend, Malden was devastated when the Babb Road fire destroyed 80% of the homes in the town of roughly 200 people. The fire started when a tree snapped and fell into power lines operated by Avista. The power lines slapped together, igniting the tree, and less than an hour later flames were rapidly headed toward Malden, 40 miles south of Spokane.

The Spokesman-Review [Author: Emma Epperly]

Explosion Like a ‘Bomb’ Kills One and Injures Two at West Virginia Chemical Plant

A large explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant killed one person and injured at least two others on the night of Dec. 8, throwing debris more than a mile away and forcing a nearby highway and some schools to close, officials said. There were three chemical operators in the building at the time of the explosion, according to Optima Belle, the chemical company that owns the plant.

New York Times [Author: Christine Hauser]

New Index Shows Riskiest Places for Minnesota's Natural Hazards

The Minnesota counties facing the greatest risks from a clobbering by nature’s hazards – from ice storms to straight-line winds – are Ramsey, Hennepin, Freeborn and Nobles. That’s according to a new analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Six years in the making, the “National Risk Index” is FEMA’s most comprehensive measurement of community risks from 18 natural hazards.

Minneapolis Star Tribune [Author: Jennifer Bjorhus]

Texas, New Mexico Resisting Interim Nuclear Waste Storage

Congress moved this year to develop interim nuclear waste storage sites, a temporary fix until the 30-year stalemate over Yucca Mountain is settled. But locations in New Mexico and Texas that were once embraced for their potential for jobs and economic development now face local opposition similar to that in Nevada that has resulted in the decades long delay in building a permanent repository.

Las Vegas Review-Journal [Author: Gary Martin]

Big Ferry Company Dumped Sewage into Hudson for Years, Whistle-Blowers Say

The dirtiest work happened while most of New Jersey slept, on boats docked across from Manhattan’s shimmering, half-lit skyscrapers. Employees of New York Waterway, a tour boat operator and the country’s largest private ferry company, would uncap a silver pipe and attach a small pump, forcing unfiltered waste from the boats’ toilets directly into the Hudson River, two former workers claim in court documents unsealed on Dec. 4.

New York Times [Author: Tracey Tully]

As Hospitals Start to Max Out, Medical Workers Beg Officials for New COVID-19 Mandates

Dr. Cleavon Gilman served in the Iraq War, but he said that doesn't compare to the battle he's fighting as an emergency room physician in Arizona. Now Gilman and other health care workers are pleading for more public safety rules – such as mask mandates or stay-at-home orders – to prevent hospitals from bursting past capacity.

CNN [Author: Holly Yan]

The Elderly vs. Essential Workers: Who Should Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First?

With the coronavirus pandemic surging and initial vaccine supplies limited, the U.S. faces a hard choice: Should the country’s immunization program focus in the early months on the elderly and people with serious medical conditions, who are dying of the virus at the highest rates, or on essential workers, an expansive category encompassing Americans who have borne the greatest risk of infection?

New York Times [Author: Abby Goodnough and Jan Hoffman]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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

Advancing Environmental Justice through Technical Assistance Mini Grants

The National Environmental Health Partnership Council, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is currently accepting applications for a technical assistance mini-grant program for community-based organizations fighting environmental injustices. The project will provide technical assistance and a $10,000 mini grant to three communities. The deadline to apply is Jan. 8, 2021.

More Information

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

Clean Energy Can Also Power Racial Equity in North Carolina

As the state’s economy looks to recover from COVID-19, the clean energy industry provides an opportunity to both hasten our recovery and address other urgent challenges North Carolinians face, including racial inequity, job growth, job quality and climate change.

The News and Observer [Author: William Barber III and Ethan Blumenthal]

Trump Administration Rejects Tougher Standards on Soot, A Deadly Air Pollutant

The Trump administration on Dec. 7 rejected setting tougher standards on soot, the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutant, saying the existing regulations remain sufficient even though some public health experts and environmental justice organizations had pleaded for stricter limits.

Washington Post [Author: Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis]

‘Buy It or Else’: Inside Monsanto And BASF’s Moves to Force Dicamba On Farmers

This reality is what Monsanto was counting on when it launched dicamba-tolerant crops, an investigation by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found. Monsanto’s new system was supposed to be the future of farming, providing farmers with a suite of seeds and chemicals that could combat more and more weeds that were becoming harder to kill.

Investigate Midwest [Author: Johnathan Hettinger]

First Nation Warned Yukon The ATAC Resource Road Would ‘Impair the Process of Reconciliation’

Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal.

The Narwhal [Author: Julien Gignac]

Study Evaluates How COVID-19 Has Affected Unemployment and Inequities

Teri Ooms, Executive Director of the Institute of Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University said a recent study evaluates how COVID-19 has affected unemployment and the inequities exemplified.

Times Leader [Author: Bill O’Boyle]

Preventing Needlesticks and Sharps Injuries: Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act

November marked the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act into law. The act required that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amend its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to include additional protections for workers to prevent occupational exposures to blood and body fluids.

NIOSH Science Blog

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

COVID-19 and Domestic PPE Production and Distribution: Issues and Policy Options

Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages continue to be a factor in the ongoing federal, and nationwide, response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a September 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, PPE shortages “remain due to a limited supply chain with limited domestic production and high global demand.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed multiple categories of PPE on its medical device shortage list.

Congressional Research Service Report

OSHA Reveals COVID-19 Enforcement Priorities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revealed the criteria it relies on to target employers for COVID-19 investigations along with naming those who received citations and the penalties they were assessed. The agency also recently issued a new COVID-19 guidance for employers addressing ventilation standards they should adopt for their workspaces.

EHS Today

Wildfire Smoke Rule in Development in Washington State

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries is developing a wildfire smoke standard. The department acknowledged receiving a petition to initiate a rulemaking for wildfire smoke exposures. The Labor and Industries department also pointed to California’s emergency temporary standard for wildfire smoke as a possible model for its own rule.

EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Guy Burdick]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack 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.


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 are also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

NACHW Is Hiring a COVID-19 Community Engagement Liaison

The National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) are seeking Community Health Workers to submit a Letter of Interest by Dec. 23, in order to serve as one of NACHW’s COVID-19 Community Engagement Liaison (CEL), for the period of Jan. 1- June 30, 2021. NACHW is a non-profit, membership organization of CHWs and allies, united across geography, ethnicity, and sector to support communities in achieving equity and social justice.

Job Posting

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