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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: February 12, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, February 12, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

February 12, 2021

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 Workshop Report Now Available

The WTP Workshop Report that describes WTP’s vision for 2025 is now available. The report includes a comprehensive summary of topics discussed during WTP’s virtual workshop held on Sept. 23-24, 2020. Panelists shared lessons learned and short- and long-term goals for each training area within WTP. Workshop participants gathered in breakout sessions to discuss cross-cutting themes of interest, such as COVID-19 and disasters, equity, evaluation, and others. The report will serve as a foundational resource in updating the WTP strategic plan and logic model. “Sustain and promote equity and opportunities for workers across all the training areas,” said Darryl Alexander, a consultant with the American Federation of Teachers, on next steps for WTP. “Advance together for the continuation of the program. It is your responsibility to protect and continue the work.”

Workshop Report

WTP Vaccine Panel Webinar Discussion Questions and Answers Now Available

Questions and answers from the Jan. 14, Addressing the Role of the Vaccine in Workplace COVID-19 Prevention: How to Weed through Misinformation, Mistrust, and Improve Worker Protection webinar are now available. The document includes answers to questions that were posed in the chat of the webinar. The answers are based on what is currently known about the coronavirus/COVID-19 vaccine.

WTP COVID-19 Webinars and Presentations

New Mexico's Nuclear Rush: Massive Waste Site Near Carlsbad Seemingly on Fast Track

A long-planned nuclear waste storage facility in the southeastern New Mexico desert was rushed through the approval process during the pandemic, according to New Mexico’s congressional delegation, environmentalists and other opponents. Typically, project foes would have been able to voice their disapproval at Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings around the state.

Searchlight New Mexico [Authors: Sammy Feldblum and Tovah Strong]

West Texas Is on Track to Get Even More Nuclear Waste

A hazardous waste disposal company in Andrews County wants to handle more dangerous levels of nuclear waste. Federal agencies are pondering new rules that could allow more of it to come to Texas.

Texas Tribune [Author: Erin Douglas]

First Atomic Blast in 1951 Shook, Shaped Vegas And Nevada

Seventy years ago, an atomic blast detonated in a remote, sprawling swath of desert known as Frenchman Flat was seen and felt in Las Vegas, 65 miles to the southeast. “VEGANS ‘ATOM-IZED,’” a Las Vegas Review-Journal headline read the next day, Jan. 28, 1951, in big, bold, all-capital letters across the front page.

Journal Courier

Citing ‘Legacy of Environmental Racism,’ Report Urges City Hall to Consider Southeast Side Residents’ Health

Air monitors around the school she attended, George Washington High School, have shown high levels of toxic metals in the air, state data show. Now, a new report is urging city planners to consider high levels of pollution and its effects on the health of people who live in the community.

Chicago Sun-Times

Workplace COVID-19 Complaints Flood Minnesota Safety Inspectors

Minnesota workplace safety inspectors have been inundated with a historic level of complaints from employees worried about COVID-19. Yet there is no specific work-safety standard for infectious disease. Connecting COVID-19 deaths to workplaces is murky at best. And all workplaces have become potentially dangerous, increasing the stakes while pinching state resources.

Star Tribune [Authors: Mike Hughlett and Joe Carlson]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Preventing Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Non-Hospital Healthcare Settings Webinar

Non-hospital based healthcare workers are at high risk of occupational exposure to infectious diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic. This webinar will share experiences and solutions to better protect workers in clinics, nursing homes, long term care, emergency response, and home health. It will include lessons learned from other public health crises, including Sept. 11, Ebola, and HIV. The webinar will be held on Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Event Registration

Evaluation of Exoskeleton Use in Construction

The University of California Los Angeles Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a webinar on Feb. 17 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET. Construction workers continue to experience high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), with the back and shoulder being the most impacted body regions. This webinar will explore survey data collected from stakeholders in construction on the perceived benefits, barriers, and facilitators of adoption.

Webinar Information

Webinar for Pacific Islanders on the U.S. EPA Tribal/Indigenous EJ Policy, EJ Grants and a Native Hawaiian Organization’s Experience with Federal Grants

This webinar is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Justice Webinar Series for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples to build the capacity of tribal governments, indigenous peoples and other environmental justice practitioners and discuss priority EJ issues. The webinar will be held Feb. 17 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. SST (American Samoa), 1:00-2:30 p.m. HST (Hawaii), 3:00-4:30 p.m. PT, and 6:00-7:30 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Moving the Sharps Safety Agenda Forward on the 20th Anniversary of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act

2020 marks 20 years since the passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA). The Act required the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to update its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to include new protections for workers facing exposures to blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials. This webinar on Feb. 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET hosted by BD Life Sciences will speak with Amber Hogan Mitchell, DrPH, President and Executive Director of the International Safety Center.

Meeting Registration

NYNJERC Annual Scientific Meeting - COVID-19, Infectious Diseases, and Worker Safety and Health

The New York New Jersey Education and Research Center (NYNJERC) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are hosting their 41st Annual Scientific Meeting on Feb. 19 on COVID-19, Infectious Diseases, and Worker Safety and Health. The meeting will include a welcome by John Meyer, M.D., and Mitchel Rosen, Ph.D., and guest speakers to discuss COVID-impacts to worker safety and health, mental health, HVAC, aerosols, and more.

Meeting Information

Defense High Level Waste: Path Forward in the New Administration

The Energy Communities Alliance will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will include discussions on U.S. Department of Energy cleanup priorities, how Congress plans to address nuclear waste, storage options, and what to expect in the incoming Biden administration.

Meeting Information

Community Visions for Environmental Justice Organizing

How can technical assistance providers such as researchers, lawyers, academics and students support community-led movements for environmental justice? The Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is hosting three Saturday panels featuring community leaders and assistance providers, followed by moderated small-group discussions with speakers and attendees. Panels run from 1:30-2:45 p.m. ET, and discussions run from 3:00-4:15 p.m. ET on Feb. 27, March 6, and March 13.

Meeting Registration

EPA Nominations for NEJAC Membership is Now Open

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). The Agency is seeking nominations to fill approximately eight (8) new vacancies for terms through September 2022. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment to this advisory council. The deadline to apply is March 24.

EPA

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Gov. Wolf Signs 13th Renewal of Opioid Disaster Declaration

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the 13th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic. This declaration was the first of its kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania, and proved to be an important tool to allow the state to respond quickly, adapt to developing needs, increase access to treatment and save lives.

Pennsylvania Governor’s Office

Sea-Level Rise Could Threaten Coastal Nuclear Waste Facilities

Nuclear power is a source of low-carbon electricity, but producing it creates dangerous radioactive waste that needs to be stored safely and permanently. Recent research suggests that as seas rise, some nuclear waste storage facilities are at risk of flooding or storm damage.

Yale Climate Connections

New Report: Toxic Waste Cleanup Efforts Lag, Putting Americans At Risk

One in six Americans lives within three miles of a toxic waste site so dangerous that it has been approved or proposed for cleanup under the federal government’s “Superfund” program. However, there’s not enough money to pay for that vital work, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data detailed in a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

U.S. PIRG

Superfund Underfunded Report

Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021

Universal masking is recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks and medical procedure masks substantially reduce exposure from infected wearers (source control) and reduce exposure of uninfected wearers (wearer exposure). This experiment highlights the importance of good fit to maximize mask performance. There are multiple simple ways to achieve better fit of masks to more effectively slow the spread of COVID-19.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

Workers, Often Overlooked, Bring Trust to the Pandemic Fight

Public health authorities are relying on health workers to be a bridge to communities that have been hardest hit by Covid-19 and who are most skeptical about the new vaccines. African Americans and Hispanics have been hospitalized with Covid-19 at rates more than three times higher than for non-Hispanic white Americans.

Kaiser Health News [Author: Michele Cohen Marill]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Update Hazard Communication Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued a proposed rule to update the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the seventh revision of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

U.S. Department of Labor

EPA Updates EJSCREEN, Community EJ Mapping Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an update of EJSCREEN, the Agency's publicly available award-winning environmental justice screening and mapping tool. EJSCREEN uses high resolution maps and a methodology for combining datasets to identify environmental burdens on vulnerable populations. This update is an important refresh of the environmental and demographic data contained in EJSCREEN.

EJSCREEN

EPA Watchdog Flags Chemical Board Information Security Flaws

The federal agency tasked with investigating chemical releases across the U.S. faces security system weaknesses that present challenges to its operations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a new report.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Fatima Hussein]

EPA OIG Report

Third Information Release from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) on the Foundation Food Group Incident

This is the third information release from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) regarding the Foundation Food Group Incident that occurred Jan. 28. CSB provided the public with initial facts regarding our investigation into the liquid nitrogen (LN) release at the Foundation Food Group’s Gainesville Plant 4.

CSB

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Houston Endowment awarded $1.25 million to support Robert D. Bullard Environmental and Climate Justice Center

Houston Endowment awarded $1.25 million to support establishment of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice (CECJ) at Texas Southern University. The center, named for Dr. Robert Bullard, TSU’s distinguished professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, will assist and support underrepresented and marginalized populations to build healthy, sustainable, and resilient communities in the era of climate change.

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

EFCOG COVID-19 Information

The Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG) has compiled COVID-19 Information and resources on a website. The site lists dates for and materials from its COVID-19 Lessons Learned Discussions, a link to the EFCOG Return to Work Protocol Document, and COVID-19 Letters regarding the workforce.

EFCOG

CPWR New Report Examines Effectiveness of Virtual Safety and Health Training

The Use of Distance Learning in Occupational Health and Safety Training: Assessing Effectiveness and Sustainability in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic evaluates the Center for Construction Research’s (CPWR) transition to distance-learning safety and health training because of COVID-19. The report addresses the effectiveness of the safety training content and distance learning format and the feasibility of integrating the distance learning format into future training efforts. Both the full report and the executive summary are now available.

Full Report

Safety Speak: Nonfatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry

On this Safety Speak episode of the podcast, Editor Sydny Shepard discusses the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance on COVID-19, the Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) new bulletin on nonfatal injury trends in the construction industry as well as news and studies surrounding transportation safety.

Occupational Health and Safety Online

Op-Ed: Essential Farmworkers Deserve Pesticide Protections

COVID-19 is having disproportionate impacts on our nation's two million farmworkers, who as essential workers continue to toil in the fields despite numerous deadly outbreaks and no federal COVID-related workplace protections. COVID-19 has pulled back the veil on the strikingly poor workplace conditions of these essential workers, built by decades of insufficient farmworker health and safety policy, poor immigration policy, and limited health care access.

EHN [Authors: Iris Figueroa and Amy K. Liebman]

WTP Clearinghouse Fact Sheets on COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available

Given the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, information about health and safety for workers is in high demand. In response, WTP and the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training developed three new fact sheets. The first fact sheet, COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Workers, offers important facts to help workers make an informed decision about being vaccinated. The Injection Safety for COVID-19 Vaccinators and Vaccine Administrators fact sheet covers sharps and needle safety to protect vaccinators from needlestick injuries and blood exposures. The third fact sheet, Key Elements of a Model Workplace Safety and Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program, includes a step-wise plan and key elements to help employers and workers implement a safe and effective workplace vaccination program.

COVID-19 Toolbox

Job OpeningsBack to Top

USC Seeks Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Justice and Health Disparities

The Division of Environmental Health in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) has announced a new Postdoctoral Research Fellow position available in Summer 2021. The successful candidate will conduct investigations around community-driven epidemiology for environmental justice in both urban and rural contexts.

Job Posting

Duke University Health Systems Seeks Safety and Health Specialist

Duke University Health Systems (DUMS) is seeking a safety and health specialist within their Occupational and Environmental Safety Office (OESO). This office provides the focus for the administration of all safety programs to Duke University, Duke University Medical Center, and Duke University Health System.

Job Posting

UCLA LOSH Is Seeking a HAZMAT Outreach and Education Specialist

The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) is currently seeking a Hazmat Outreach and Education Specialist to lead LOSH’s efforts to prevent worker and community exposures to hazardous materials, toxic releases, and environmental hazards. The Specialist oversees high-quality hands-on training programs, including the 40-hour HAZWOPER, 24-hour Hazardous Waste Operations, 8-hour annual Refresher, First Responder Operations, and other courses based on need.

Job Posting – Requisition No. 32961

Remote Positions in Promoting Health Equity for Farmworkers

The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) has posted 12 new job openings. All jobs can be remote and are part of a cooperative agreement program between NCFH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-19 in farmworker communities. Jobs range from helping build national partnerships to helping farmworkers find health care providers to research and evaluation.

Job Postings

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