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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: December 18, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, December 18, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

December 18, 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

NIEHS Podcast Episode with ECWTP Director

A new podcast episode showcases the success of the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP). The podcast features an interview with ECWTP Director Sharon Beard and Martanaze Hancock, an ECWTP graduate from the previously funded Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center. Beard and Hancock discuss more about the program and how it has helped change lives over the past 25 years.


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

Safety Document Shows Dangers of Chemical Said to Be Present in Fire after Fatal Plant Explosion

Kanawha County’s director of emergency management said he received a document in a meeting with Optima Chemical and Chemours Co. representatives in the hours after a fatal explosion at Optima’s facility on the Chemours site in Belle. It reveals more about a chemical that emergency responders have reported was present in the fire that followed.

West Virginia Gazette Mail [Author: Mike Tony]

“They’re Going to Die” – Experts and Whistleblowers Reveal Life of Trafficking Radioactive Waste

What happens to oil and gas workers at the wellhead and, equally as important, what happens to these workers between the wellhead and the landfill, the well head and injection well? The risks these workers face has never been appropriately examined, and up until now, their full story has never been told. Among all the risks, including hundreds of toxic chemicals and known human carcinogens like benzene, and radioactive waste.

Public Herald [Author: Kristen Locy and Justin Nobel]

EPA Celebrates 40 Years of Superfund Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Dec. 11 that it is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)—commonly known as Superfund. Enacted on Dec. 11, 1980, Superfund authorized the nation’s signature land contamination cleanup program.

Waste Today [Author: Adam Redling]

COPD, Recurrent Chest Infections Linked with Occupational Exposure to Insulating Materials

Occupational exposure to insulating materials used in construction was associated with respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and recurrent chest infections, according to new research. The cross-sectional study included 990 construction workers who work with insulating materials (insulators) who were screened from 2011 to 2017 in Alberta and had pulmonary function tests and chest radiography.

Healio [Author: Erin Welsh]

As COVID-19 Surges, AMA Sounds Alarm on Nation’s Overdose Epidemic

The U.S. is seeing its worst COVID-19 surge of the year. Yet as the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rise, the country continues to deal with a concurrent epidemic affecting Americans: A drug overdose epidemic driven by illicit fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.

American Medical Association [Author: Marc Zarefsky]

California Subpoenas Amazon over Worker Safety during COVID-19 Pandemic

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Dec. 14 asked a judge to order Amazon to comply with subpoenas as part of an investigation into how the company protects workers from the coronavirus. Becerra said the online sales giant hasn’t provided enough information on its safety steps and the status of infections and deaths at its shipping facilities across California.

Associated Press

Calendar FeaturesBack 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.


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

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Prevent Large Scale Illegal Waste Dumping

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on Dec. 15 to strengthen penalties against the illegal disposal of construction debris, demolition debris, and other hazardous substances. The legislation also designates fraudulent schemes involving the disposal of solid waste as a new crime. These strengthened penalties will provide strong new tools for law enforcement to use as they work to stop unlawful waste dumping activities.

New York Governor’s Office

New California Rule Will Facilitate the Recycling of Solar Panels

A new rule is set to take effect in California on Jan. 1, 2021, that will allow generators of decommissioned solar panels (photovoltaic or PV modules) to manage them more economically as universal waste as opposed to hazardous waste under current California law. This is the first rule in the country to identify solar panels as universal waste to reduce management burdens and facilitate recycling, according to JD Supra.

Waste Today [Author: Haley Rischar]

Research Examines Impact of Hurricanes on Hospitalizations, Medical Providers

More older adults are hospitalized in the month following hurricanes while fewer primary care doctors, surgeons and specialists are available in some of their communities in the long term, according to a pair of University of Michigan studies. The findings are noteworthy as the population of older adults is rapidly growing alongside increasing impacts from climate change, such as extreme weather events, the U-M researchers say.

University of Michigan News [Author: Laura Bailey]

Ensuring Transportation Worker Safety During the 2020 Holiday Season

With major supply issues, increasing demand, concerns about COVID-19 and various other factors, personal and mental health can fall by the wayside. There are also layoffs, economic shifts, climate issues and tumultuous politics. All these things can distract and bring down people’s spirits, ultimately resulting in a significant performance hit, especially in the transportation sector.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Devin Partida]

Training as COVID-19 Screeners Offered for Out-of-Work Residents

The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with Hurricanes Laura and Delta, has left some Southwest Louisiana residents out of work. A new effort can help them land a temporary job as COVID-19 screeners and sanitizers at area businesses. The effort is part of a partnership between the Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana and the Local Workforce Development Board.

American Press [Author: John Guidroz]

NSC Report Details Changes in Workplace Culture Due to COVID-19

A report published by the National Safety Council (NSC) found that positive factors, such as a renewed commitment to workplace safety, have come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The report, which is based on interviews with safety, medical and health experts, identified key shifts that have occurred in workplaces since the beginning of the pandemic.

Occupational Health and Safety

Utah Lawmaker Aims to Help Uphold Worker Safety During the Pandemic

Utah Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost is considering presenting legislation that will improve worker protections in the state during the pandemic, according to Fox 13. The representative has received a large amount of complaints regarding workplace safety, including the absence of personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper sanitation at work. Many of the people who have complained are essential workers.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Nikki Johnson-Bolden]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of $10 Million For National Out-Of-School Time Organizations to Expand Workforce Pathways for Youth

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on Dec. 15 the availability of $10 million to fund national out-of-school time organizations that will expand workforce pathways for youth ages 14-21. Through the Workforce Pathways for Youth program, the Department seeks to increase alignment between workforce and out-of-school programs, and expand job training and workforce pathways for youth.


CDC Study Looks at On-The-Job Injuries Among Young Workers

A comprehensive public health strategy is needed to protect younger workers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers say after their recent study showing that the rate of nonfatal on-the-job injuries among 15- to 24-year-olds is between 1.2 and 2.3 times higher than that of the 25-44 age group.

Occupational Health and Safety

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

COVID-19, Aerosols, and Ventilation, Q&A with Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Aurora Le

As the weather gets colder and we find ourselves inside for longer periods of time, how can we avoid aerosolized droplets becoming a problem for disease transmission in our public buildings? We have many layers to consider for minimizing risk, but in many ways, it starts with the ventilation systems in these buildings. Assistant Professor Aurora Le explains the connection between air ventilation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Michigan School of Public Health

Improving Respiratory Protection for Staff during COVID-19 Webinar Recording

TSI hosted a webinar on respiratory protection, which included research updates on COVID-19 transmission and information on how to reduce transmission through various types of respiratory protection and respirator fit testing. The webinar featured the following speakers: Lisa Brosseau, Stella Hines, M.D., MSPH, Mark Catlin, and Ramesh Mani.

Webinar Recording

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.


TNEC’s Evolving Worker Safety Training Gets $6.6M Boost

More than 50,000 workers from fields such as manufacturing, health care and disaster response have received health and safety training from The New England Consortium (TNEC) at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell over the past three decades. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the list of trainees has expanded to include people who work in grocery stores, gyms, beauty salons and even casinos.

UMass Lowell [Author: Ed Brennen]

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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