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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: February 28, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, February 28, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

February 28, 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, March 17-18. The hotel room block closes March 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET and registration closes March 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The draft agenda is now available.


Employees Tried to Stop Leak Before Fatal KMCO Plant Explosion, Report Says

When word spread there was a leak of a highly flammable chemical on the morning of April 2 at the KMCO Crosby plant, several workers sprang into action. Just before 10:46 a.m., there was a loud “pop” followed by a whooshing noise like an air hose coming off. The leak, which had begun small, quickly expanded into a large white vapor cloud moving throughout the plant. A few minutes later, workers heard a loud boom, followed by several smaller explosions.

Houston Chronicle [Author: Perla Trevizo]

Solar Jobs ‘Census’ Touts Employment Gains From State Policies

A new survey of solar sector jobs says state-level clean energy policies helped drive a rise in the industry’s employment following a two-year downturn, a finding that could aid proponents’ argument that renewables boost the economy – although the job growth is mostly tied to installing solar rather than utilities shifting to the power source. The report comes from the Solar Foundation.

National Solar Jobs Census

Cancer-Linked Chemical Found Inside Kansas Aircraft Hangar

More than 50 personnel at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas may have been exposed to dangerous levels of a compound linked to cancer that was found inside an aircraft hangar last year, according to internal memos. Contamination by hexavalent chrominium was documented in multiple base memos from October 2019 to January 2020, McClatchy reported. The chemical can be used as an anti-corrosion agent and “is found in paints and primers used on the KC-135 and to a lesser extent the KC-46.”

AP News

Parts of Hanford Nuclear Waste Site Have Not Been Inspected in 50 Years, Government Auditors Say

Companies responsible for cleaning up a decommissioned plutonium plant in rural Washington state failed to conduct comprehensive safety checks at facilities containing nuclear waste, even after a 2017 tunnel collapse put surrounding communities on lockdown, government auditors reported Feb. 20. The report about the Hanford nuclear waste site raises new concerns about environmental and safety risks posed by one of the United States’ worst toxic waste sites.

U.S. Government Accountability Office Report

Washington Post [Author: Aaron Gregg]

Safety Culture in Offshore Oil and Gas: National Academies Awards Grants for Project Development

Via its Gulf Research Program (GRP), the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has awarded eight grants totaling nearly $7.3 million to projects aimed at enhancing safety culture in the offshore oil and gas industry. The GRP grants support projects that produce data sets, strategies and tools for measurement to help ensure the safety of workers and the protection of the environment in the Gulf of Mexico.

Safety and Health Magazine

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

DOL to Hold Meeting of the Construction Advisory Committee Workgroups to Discuss Industry Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will hold a teleconference meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) Workgroups on Thursday, March 5. The Education, Training and Outreach workgroup will meet from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET to discuss trench safety and fall prevention. The Emerging and Current Issues workgroup will meet from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET to discuss opioids and suicides in construction.


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 March 5, 1:30-300 p.m. ET. During this webinar, speakers will highlight new online courses and exercise templates.


Meeting Registration

Resilience: Helping Communities and Countries Move from Crisis to Stability Webinar

This webinar looks at resilience, what it really means, how it is relevant to diverse stakeholders, and how to strengthen resilience at local, regional, and national scales. Speakers will describe how communities and nations experience and recover from impacts to their environment and climate, energy systems, health, and cultures, and how to develop effective resilience-building strategies. The webinar will be held March 24 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar 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 March 31-April 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

NIH Coronavirus Online Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 37 locations internationally, including cases in the U.S. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.


Harris County Sues EPA to Stop Chemical Safety Rules Rollback

Harris County joined 14 attorneys general from across the country who oppose the Trump administration’s rollback of chemical safety rules they say will increase the risk of explosions and threaten public safety. The county attorney’s office is asking a federal judge to overturn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules, reversing amendments that placed stricter requirements on companies over how they deal with chemical emergencies.

Houston Chronicle [Author: Perla Trevizo]

Virtual Reality and Safety Training

Some of the current uses of virtual reality (VR) in safety include hazard recognition, emergency situations and fall protection training. “Simulator sickness” and colliding with objects are among the hazards of using VR. Some experts recommend using VR as a means to augment other kinds of training, and typically in short durations, with sessions lasting no more than 20 minutes.

Safety and Health Magazine [Author: Alan Ferguson]

Coronavirus Cases Among Health Workers Climb, Underscoring the Chaos on an Outbreak’s Front Lines

Thousands of health care workers, largely in China, have been infected amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a sign of the immensely difficult working conditions for medical staffers, who should be among those best protected against infection. The infections, along with the deaths of several doctors in China, underscore the deeply challenging, chaotic environment that health care workers confront when toiling on the front lines of a major outbreak.

Stat News [Author: Megan Thielking]

Coronavirus Outbreak: Union Leaders Offer Resources for Frontline Workers, Push for Federal Guidance

Representatives from two labor unions are bringing attention to resources intended to protect workers in “frontline industries” from exposure to the new coronavirus and are calling on the federal government to provide coordinated guidance. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, discussed her organization’s webpage that addresses the coronavirus outbreak.

Safety and Health Magazine

At Hanford, Experts and Community Members Weigh In on Nuclear Waste Disposal

Hanford is the nation’s most complex nuclear cleanup challenge, with numerous sources of environmental contamination. 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and hazardous chemical waste are stored in 177 tanks on the reservation. While plans have been laid for disposing of the site’s high-activity waste – which contains about 60% of the site’s radioactivity – the plans for low-activity waste at Hanford are less complete.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

New Mexico Senators Block Nuclear Oversight Bill Amid Proposal to Store Waste Near Carlsbad

New Mexico senators blocked a proposal to expand the State’s oversight authority on nuclear waste facilities to include high-level waste held at privately-owned facilities. Senate Bill 95 would add to the authority of Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force, a state agency formed originally to review the development of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – a federally-owned repository for low-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad.

Carlsbad Current-Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

NIOSH Seeking Input on Workplace Supported Recovery for Substance Use Disorders

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announces an opportunity to provide input on a NIOSH plan to develop resources and conduct research on the topic of Workplace Supported Recovery. Workplace Supported Recovery programs assist workers and employers facing the nation's crisis related to the misuse of opioids and other drugs, and related substance use disorders. Comments must be received April 27.

DOL Announces Nearly $100 Million in Apprenticeship Grants to Close the Skills Gap

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the awarding of grants to 28 public-private apprenticeship partnerships totaling nearly $100 million through the Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap grant program. These grants will support large-scale expansions of apprenticeship in industries including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.


DOL Awards National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant to Maine in Response to Opioid Crisis

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced an opioid-crisis National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant for up to $6,281,891 – with $2,093,964 released initially – awarded to the Maine Department of Labor. The grant will support disaster-relief jobs and provide employment services to eligible individuals in Maine communities affected by the health and economic impact of widespread opioid use, addiction and overdose.


CSB Adopts Final Accidental-Release Reporting Regulations

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) adopted regulations on Feb. 21, under the Clean Air Act requiring the reporting of certain accidental releases. Their purpose is to enable the CSB to more quickly determine which incidents it should investigate. The regulations will require reporting within eight hours of an incident.

Federal Register

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Calls for Applications to Develop and Implement National Environmental Education Training Program

As directed by the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to announce the availability of approximately $11 million in funding for a multi-year cooperative agreement to develop and manage the National Environmental Education Training Program. Applications must be submitted no later than May 29, 2020.


Applications for the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education Project

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) announced a new round of applications for the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education project. This project is identifying and disseminating innovative practices in adult education that lead to improved learner outcomes. High-performing Adult Education and Family Literacy Act grantees should submit their applications by April 15.

OCTAE Application

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Joint ECWTP/EWDJT Meeting and 2019 Brownfields Conference

On Dec. 10, 2019, NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) grantees attended a joint meeting with grantees from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) Program in Los Angeles. The meeting served as a kickoff for the 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference, providing an opportunity for NIEHS and EPA grantees to network and discuss safety and workforce development issues.

Meeting Webpage

CPWR Fall Protection Q&A Panel

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is hosting a fall protection Q&A panel on Mar. 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The panel will discuss the Fall Protection Code course, which provides an overall blueprint to help prevent injuries and illnesses that for workers at height. The session will provide tangible techniques and approaches to move your own fall protection and restraint programs forward.

Registration Link

Job OpeningsBack to Top

CSB Announces Two Chemical Investigator Positions

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) announced two chemical investigator positions. The Supervisory Chemical Incident Investigator position serves as the supervisor of experts in industrial chemical safety and nationwide incident investigation and analysis of major incidents involving the accidental release of hazardous materials and, developing and presenting reports with safety recommendations for adopting by the Board. The deadline to apply is Mar. 9.

Job Posting One

Job Posting Two

NSC Publicizes VP, Roadway Safety and VP, Workplace Safety Job Opportunities

The National Safety Council (NSC) is a nonprofit organization with the mission of saving lives and preventing injuries from the workplace to anyplace, through leadership, research, education and advocacy. To further the vision for the organization, NSC is hiring two practice leads to evaluate and grow their respective business lines. The Vice Presidents will be responsible for establishing and overseeing the Roadway Safety and Workplace Safety practice areas.

Vice President, Workplace Safety Job Posting

Vice President, Roadway Safety Job Posting

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

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