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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: February 7, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, February 7, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

February 7, 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

Spring 2020 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Registration Open

The semi-annual NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) Awardee Meeting brings awardees together to provide program updates, exchange information regarding training, and discover new areas of interest to awardees. Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, in conjunction with the NIEHS WTP, is sponsoring a workshop on Bio-Preparedness. The workshop will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Mar. 17-18. The hotel room block closes Feb. 23 at 5:00 p.m. ET and registration closes Feb. 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET.


Across the U.S., States Are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

State lawmakers across the country are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change. Following the hottest decade on record, which saw record-breaking wildfires in the West, extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, a years-long drought in California, and severe flooding in the Midwest, legislators in many states say it’s long past time to treat such events as the new normal – and invest accordingly.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Alex Brown]

Cal/OSHA Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (Cal/OSHA) regulations require protection for workers exposed to airborne infectious diseases such as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. This interim guidance provides employers and workers in health care settings with vital information for preventing exposure to the virus. Employers and employees should review their own health and safety procedures as well as the recommendations and standards detailed below, to ensure workers are protected from 2019-n-CoV.


EPA Re-Approves Key Roundup Chemical

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-approved a chemical used in Bayer's Roundup weed killer despite concerns over its health risks. The agency is doubling down on its claims that the chemical, glyphosate, doesn’t pose a danger to humans despite thousands of lawsuits that attribute cancer to Roundup. The agency did find that glyphosate presented “low or limited potential risks” in birds and mammals.

The Hill [Author: Rachel Frazin]

Did Workers Spread Asbestos at a Philly School? The District Is Investigating.

The Philadelphia School District is investigating whether workers spread asbestos when replacing ceiling tiles last summer at Hopkinson Elementary, which will remain closed at least until Feb. 6 while the district continues testing air throughout the building, officials said Feb. 4.

The Philadelphia Inquirer [Author: Kristen Graham and Wendy Ruderman]

OSHA Boosts Heat Hazard Enforcement Despite Court Setback

The federal government’s workplace safety agency isn’t backing down from citing employers for hot-weather hazards after a court defeat a year ago. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors increased the number of heat-related general duty clause citations they issued this year, despite a Feb. 28, 2019, decision from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission rejecting a citation for the death of an Ohio roofing worker.

Bloomberg Environment [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Chemical Safety Agency Allows Extra Time to Report Accidents

After years of legal challenges and a court order to establish a plan, the federal chemical safety board issued a final rule requiring companies to disclose chemicals released in explosions or other accidents. Filed on Feb. 5, the court-ordered deadline to establish a final rule, the measure increases the time frame to report a chemical release from the four hours in the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s original proposal to eight hours.

Bloomberg Environment [Author: Fatima Hussein]

Surgeon General Sounds Off for Worker Well-Being

In a medical journal editorial, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, encouraged employers to foster worker well-being. Adams highlighted the Total Worker Health approach developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The article recently appeared in Public Health Reports. The Surgeon General oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes NIOSH.

EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Guy Burdick]

‘Crisis Point’: OSHA Alliance Targets Substance Abuse in New Hampshire

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Concord Area Office on Dec. 17 entered an alliance agreement with the New Hampshire Office of the Governor, the state’s Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative and the WorkWISE NH consultation program to help combat substance abuse. These are part of the OSHA Alliance Program. The alliance partners also plan to use relevant data to look for ways to boost awareness, outreach and communication.

Safety and Health Magazine

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

NIMHD 10th Anniversary Scientific Symposium: Innovations to Promote Health Equity

The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is hosting their 10th Anniversary Scientific Symposium: Innovations to Promote Health Equity. The symposium will showcase the latest discoveries in minority health and health disparities research. Leading researchers investigating salient topics will help crystalize and further explore our current knowledge about the determinants of health and their impact on minority health and health disparities. The symposium will take place Mar. 3 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET at the National Institutes of Health Main Campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Symposium Details

Highly Pathogenic Infectious Disease Training and Exercise Resources Webinar

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE), and the National Ebola Training and Education Center are conducting a joint webinar focused on Highly Pathogenic Infectious Disease Training and Exercise Resources on Mar. 5, 1:30-300 p.m. ET. During this webinar, speakers will highlight new online courses and exercise templates.


Meeting Registration

NACCHO 2020 Preparedness Summit Registration Open

Registration is now open for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) 2020 Prep Summit, which will be held Mar. 31-Apr. 3 in Dallas. This year’s theme, Fixing Our Fault Lines: Addressing Systemic Vulnerabilities, will focus on methods to identify systemic weaknesses and highlight tools and policies that can empower all communities, and particularly the ones that are most vulnerable, to address those weaknesses and become more resilient.

Meeting Registration

2020 Health Disparities Research Institute Save the Date

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host the Health Disparities Research Institute (HDRI) from Aug. 3-7 in Bethesda, Maryland. The online application system will open in early February 2020. The HDRI aims to support the research career development of promising early-career minority health and health disparities research scientists and to stimulate research in disciplines supported by health disparities science.


New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Call for Papers

New Solutions seeks high quality manuscripts for a special issue, Opioids and the Workplace - Risk Factors and Solutions, dedicated to work and the opioid crisis. The workplace has been the forgotten element in the national response to the opioid crisis, even though workers and their families have been particularly impacted nationwide. Emerging research, case studies, and advocacy programs will be reviewed in this issue. Manuscripts will be accepted until June 30. Accepted papers will be published March 2021.

Call for Papers

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Connecticut’s Largest City Sees Future in Harnessing Wind Energy

For decades, officials in Bridgeport, Connecticut, have searched for an economic engine to turn around this once-booming industrial city. They pursued several waterfront casinos, hoping one would prove a job-making jackpot, but none has yet panned out. They took a swing at a minor-league baseball stadium. They built it, but the city’s success didn’t come.

The Wall Street Journal [Author: Debra West]

Cuomo Announces New Measure to Ensure Highway Worker Safety

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new measure as part of the 2021 executive budget to ensure the safety of highway workers. The Slow Down and Look Out for Highway Workers and Pedestrians Act of 2020, also known as the SLOW Act would result in tougher penalties for violence against highway workers and increased safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists, according to the Governor's Office.

CBS Albany

Syracuse to Hire More Inspectors to Check 5,500 ‘High Risk’ Houses for Lead Paint

The city of Syracuse will hire at least two more code inspectors to inspect thousands of rental properties for lead paint in targeted neighborhoods, if a new proposal becomes law. The Common Council is reviewing the potential impacts of a law that would let city code inspectors test and cite for lead paint, which is poisonous especially to children. [Author: Chris Baker]

Washington’s Natural Disaster Rate Has Increased, but Here’s a Way to Help Prepare

The frequency of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-reported natural disasters within the state of Washington has nearly tripled since 2000, according to a recent study. Between 2000 and 2017, Washington saw 61 natural disasters, according to an analysis by insurance comparison website QuoteWizard, which looked at FEMA natural disaster data for the report. That tied with New Mexico for the fifth-highest number of natural disasters during the time, the study found.

The Bellingham Herald [Author: David Rasbach]

Hong Kong Reports Virus Death As Workers Strike at Hospitals

Hong Kong hospitals cut services as thousands of medical workers went on strike for a second day Feb. 4 to demand the border with mainland China be shut completely, as a new virus caused its first death in the semi-autonomous territory and authorities feared it was spreading locally. All but two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed at midnight after more than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike.

Associated Press [Author: Ken Moritsugu]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

DOL Revises National Emphasis Program to Reduce or Eliminate Worker Exposure to Silica

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a revised National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and reduce or eliminate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica in general industry, maritime, and construction. The NEP targets specific industries expected to have the highest numbers of workers exposed to silica, and focuses on enforcement of the new silica standards, one for general industry and maritime and one for construction.


Significant New Use Rules on Certain Chemical Substances

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing significant new use rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act for 13 chemical substances which are the subject of premanufacture notices. This action requires persons to notify EPA least 90 days before commencing manufacture or processing of any of these 13 chemical substances for an activity that is designated as a significant new use by this rule.


NIOSH Responds to Recommendations for Smarter Surveillance Systems

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a document outlining its implementation plan to address the National Academies program evaluation recommendations for a smarter national surveillance system for occupational safety and health. The plan comes after NIOSH and partners requested the National Academies to conduct a study to address the need for a more coordinated, cost-effective approach for U.S. occupational safety and health surveillance.


NIOSH Expands List of Work Issues Relevant to Worker Health

The NIOSH Total Worker Health graphic, Issues Relevant to Advancing Worker Well-Being Using Total Worker Health Approaches, illustrates a wide-ranging list of issues that are relevant to advancing worker safety, health, and well-being. This list reflects an expanded focus for Total Worker Health (TWH) that recognizes workplace and work issues.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

New Resources for Responding to Opioids

The construction industry has been hit particularly hard by opioids, with state-level studies finding that construction workers are six to seven times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than workers in other professions. The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is playing a leading role in helping our industry respond to this danger, including two new resources: a training program designed to increase awareness and their latest Quarterly Data Report, which looks at the prevalence of overdoses on job sites.


Ozone Exposure, Worse Respiratory Outcomes in Smokers

Higher long-term ozone exposure was associated with lower lung function and increased emphysema in current and former smokers, according to an NIEHS-funded study. The study suggested that exposure to higher concentrations of ozone might also contribute to worse respiratory outcomes in adults already at higher risk for chronic lung disease because of their smoking status.

Environmental Factor

Job OpeningsBack to Top

Public Citizen Seeks Worker Health and Safety Advocate

Public Citizen is hiring a worker health and safety advocate. The worker health and safety advocate will play a leading role managing Congress Watch’s policy and advocacy on occupational health and safety, including in the topic areas of whistleblower rights, environmental impacts on worker health, appropriations implications, and others as necessary, and manage related public education and outreach.

Job Announcement

WJP Posts Job Opportunities

The Worker's Justice Project (WJP) is hiring three job positions. The positions based in New York City are Workplace Rights Organizer and Health and Safety and Community Organizer. WJP promotes justice and opportunity for low-wage immigrant workers in New York City by pushing for systematic enforcement and expansion of workplace protections, including labor and occupational health and safety standards; advocating for industry-specific efforts to improve working conditions; and educating immigrant communities about their rights in the workplace and how to exercise those rights.

Workplace Rights Organizer

Health and Safety Community and Community Organizer

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