January 24, 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.
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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
- We Want Your Feedback
- Newsbriefs Past Issues
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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 workshop is tentatively scheduled from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
America’s Radioactive Secret
Oil and gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America. In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination – oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees.
Rolling Stone [Author: Justin Nobel]
Rising Temperatures Put More Us Workers at Risk of Dying From Heat
Though the climate crisis is creating conditions where workers are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and only three states, California, Washington and Minnesota, have heat stress workplace protection standards. The fatality was one of several over that decade suffered by telecommunications technicians on the job. It was the last fatality since the union began pushing to include heat stress workplace standards in collective bargaining agreements.
The Guardian [Author: Michael Sainato]
Last Decade Most Expensive for Natural Disasters: Report
The last decade was the worst on record for economic losses from natural disasters, amounting to $3 trillion - over a trillion more than the previous decade, insurance broker Aon said on Jan. 22. The Asia-Pacific region was the worst-hit in the 2010-2019 period, accounting for 44% of the total, with earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical cyclones among the disasters, Aon said in a report.
Reuters [Author: Carolyn Cohn]
Outraged Puerto Ricans Demand Answers After Discovery of Unused Emergency Supplies
Puerto Rico's governor fired the U.S. territory's emergency management director and two high-ranking officials after viral footage of disaster relief aid sitting unused in a warehouse provoked angry residents to break into the facility and begin distributing it to people in need themselves. The uproar comes as communities on the island continue to grapple with the aftermath of devastating earthquakes that have left many residents in need of basic supplies.
BuzzFeed News [Author: Brianna Sacks]
China Virus Spreads to Health Workers; Six Patients Dead
Health-care workers contracting the new illness indicates that it is more easily transmitted than previously thought, bringing the outbreak to a higher risk level, reminiscent of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, pandemic that killed 800 people in Asia 17 years ago. China on Jan. 21 raised the number of confirmed cases to 291.
Bloomberg [Authors: Sybilla Gross and Dong Lyu]
A Radioactive Legacy Haunts This Navajo Village, Which Fears a Fractured Future
The village of Red Water Pond Road sits in the southeast corner of the Navajo Nation, a tiny speck in a dry valley surrounded by scrub-covered mesas. Officials are relocating residents to the city of Gallup, about a half-hour away, and surrounding areas. The village sits amid a Superfund site loaded with uranium mine waste. Mitigation has been delayed for decades, along with remedies for hundreds of other abandoned uranium mines across the tribe’s lands that boomed during the Cold War.
The Washington Post [Author: Will Ford]
Two Years After Oklahoma Well Explosion Killed Five, Safety Rules Remain Much the Same
Two years ago, an oil well near a small Oklahoma town exploded into a fireball that swept through a drilling rig, killing five in an accident deemed a needless catastrophe by federal investigators and casting a short-lived spotlight on a lack of regulation and oversight across the oil and gas industry. The accident involving a Houston drilling company was the industry’s deadliest since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy 10 years ago, but the response to the Oklahoma explosion has been far less urgent.
Houston Chronicle [Author: Jordan Blum]
Michigan Lawmakers Oppose Proposed Canadian Nuclear Waste Disposal Site
A number of Michigan lawmakers introduced in Congress a bipartisan resolution opposing the placement of a Canadian nuclear waste disposal site near Lake Huron. One of the sites proposed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to store nuclear waste would be in either the Huron-Kinloss Township or Municipality of South Bruce. Both are relatively close to Lake Huron and northeast across the lake from the state. As part of the plans, if the Huron-Kinloss/South Bruce plan were to move forward, between 88,000 and 110,000 tons of high-level waste would be stored in excavated underground chambers approximately 1,640 feet below the earth’s surface.
Huron Daily Tribune [Author: Robert Creenan]
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NSC 2020 Congress and Expo Call for Papers
The National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo is the world's largest annual event for safety, health and environmental professionals. The event attracts decision makers, end users, and distributors from a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, petrochemical and utilities. They are currently accepting papers for their technical sessions and professional development seminars. Proposals must be submitted by Jan. 31.
PEPH 2020 Annual Meeting: Past, Present, and Future Registration Open
The Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Annual Meeting will bring the environmental health network together to reflect on the past, discuss the present, and consider future opportunities. In addition to learning about strategies and approaches used to improve environmental public health, the PEPH2020 meeting will be an occasion to inform a new 10-year vision for the PEPH program in the context of the NIEHS Strategic Plan and the new Translational Research Framework. The meeting will be held Feb. 12-13 in Durham, North Carolina.
Register Now: 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.
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.
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. A number of studies have shown that certain high-risk industries and occupations, such as construction and extraction, are at high risk for opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose fatalities. 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.
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Gulf Research Program Awards $7.25 Million to Eight Projects Working to Advance Safety Culture in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry
The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced $7.25 million in grant awards for eight projects focused on strengthening safety culture in the offshore oil and gas industry. Oil and gas production in deepwater are inherently hazardous activities that can fail in complex, catastrophic ways, as tragically shown by the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. While many factors led to this disaster, several reports issued in the aftermath emphasized the need for an improved safety culture within the offshore oil and gas industry.
New and Updated California Workplace Safety Regulations Expected in 2020
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board continues to have a multitude of draft regulations on its plate for this coming year. Employers and trade groups will have the opportunity to influence California’s new workplace safety regulations at the advisory committee level and by attending the monthly Standards Board meetings, which will occur throughout the state. Here are some of the most critical updates for California employers.
Wisconsin Lawmakers Pass Bill Restricting Use of Firefighting Foam Containing PFAS
The Wisconsin Legislature approved a bill Jan. 21 that would impose new restrictions on the use of firefighting foams, in an effort to curtail groundwater pollution. The measure passed in both the state Assembly and Senate. Firefighting foam tends to contain man-made chemicals known as PFAS, which is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals can contaminate water and soil.
WUWM [Author: Marti Mikkelson]
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Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation – National Violent Death Reporting System, 32 States, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) finds that suicide among the U.S. working-age population (ages 16–64 years) is increasing; in 2017, nearly 38,000 persons died by suicide. National Violent Death Reporting System data from 32 states were used to calculate suicide rates for major industry and occupational groups and detailed occupational groups. Five industry groups and six major occupational groups had higher suicide rates than did the overall study population.
EPA Grant to Cherokee Nation Will Fund Hazardous Waste Work
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a grant to the Cherokee Nation to support a variety of hazardous waste management activities. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA’s Tribal Waste Management Program encourages environmentally sound waste management practices that promote resource conservation through recycling, recovery, reduction, clean up, and elimination of waste.
OSHA Updates Amputation Enforcement
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made a number of changes to update its National Emphasis Programs (NEP) aimed at reducing amputations in manufacturing industries by adding a targeting methodology for segments with high employer-reported amputation statistics.
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Obituary: LaVerne Mayfield
We are saddened to inform you that LaVerne Mayfield, long time health and safety staff of the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) UFCW Center for Worker Health and Safety Education and former member of ICWUC Local 47C, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. LaVerne was hired as a health and safety instructor at the ICWUC/UFCW Center in 1991, served as Director of the Greater Cincinnati Occupational Health Center from 1995 through 2005, and returned to the ICWUC from 2006 until she retired in 2013. She is survived by her daughter, Candice, and grandchildren, Brianna and Keon.
CPWR Silica and Emerging Respiratory Hazards in Construction
Many construction tasks can expose workers to respiratory hazards when the risk is not understood and controlled. The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) will provide an update on the latest research, controls and resources available to help contractors comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s silica standard and respond to emerging issues regarding nano-enabled construction materials including concrete. Contractors will be able to apply the information provided to protect the safety and health of their employees and improve their operations. The session takes place Feb. 4 at 3:30-5:00 p.m. ET.
TSTC's Workforce Training to Offer Solar Energy Class
Texas State Technical College’s (TSTC) Workforce Training department will host a continuing education class on solar energy from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 26. Using solar energy means low water usage, long-term price certainty and energy security, according to the Texas Solar Power Association’s Texas Solar Industry Overview released in March 2019. More than $4.5 billion has been invested in solar projects in Texas, according to the trade association.
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OAI Seeks EHS Training Programs Associate Director
Chicago-based Opportunity Advancement Innovation (OAI) is conducting a national search to fill the key executive position of Associate Director, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Training Programs. The successful candidate will be a mission-driven safety professional who will play a key role in developing, implementing and overseeing OAI’s nationwide OSHA and EHS-related training programs. These programs address the health and safety training needs of underrepresented workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.
NYCOSH Seeks Safety and Health Specialist
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is seeking a safety and health specialist to develop, coordinate and conduct safety and health campaigns in New York City for construction workers, in particular Latino day laborers. In addition to conducting training, the job includes outreach to unions, community-based organizations and institutions, liaise with unions and production and distribution of appropriate safety and health materials. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.
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