January 29, 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.
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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
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- Newsbriefs Past Issues
|Top Stories||Back to Top|
NIEHS Announces Acting Branch Chief
NIEHS announced that Sharon D. Beard will be the acting branch chief for the Worker Education and Training Branch, effective on Jan. 31. For more than 25 years, Sharon has been primarily responsible for coordinating, evaluating, and improving the Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP). She uses her background in industrial hygiene to provide expert review, guidance, and leadership in managing a multimillion portfolio of worker training grants in the areas of hazardous waste, emergency response, and nuclear weapons/radiation, reaching communities all over the U.S.
Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic
The demands come as the safety of firefighters has become an urgent concern amid the worsening effects of climate change. In October, two dozen firefighters in California filed suit against 3M, Chemours, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and other manufacturers, claiming that the companies for decades knowingly made and sold firefighting equipment loaded with toxic chemicals without warning of the chemicals’ risks.
New York Times [Author: Hiroko Tabuchi]
Full Radioactive Operations to Begin at Salt Waste Processing Facility at SRS
Full radioactive operations at the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) are set to begin, as testing at the one-of-a-kind plant recently wrapped without incident, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The Salt Waste Processing Facility has already handled more than 320,000 gallons of nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site.
Aiken Standard [Author: Colin Demarest]
N3B And Triad Cooperate to Ship Radioactive Waste from LANL to WIPP
N3B and Triad have successfully partnered to combine transuranic (TRU) waste shipment for additional efficiency. The shipment, loaded at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) Radioassay and Nondestructive Testing (RANT) facility at Technical Area 54, comingled legacy and new generation radioactive waste, resulting in more efficient shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
Landfill Operators Weigh Next Steps for PFAS Regulation, Research and Opportunity
The North American industry's largest publicly traded landfill operators, at a set of panel discussions this month, discussed how to best prepare for future federal per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations.
Waste Dive [Author: Megan Quinn]
Army Corps Finds Radioactive Materials in Soil in Niagara County
The Army Corps of Engineers has disclosed the discovery of plutonium and other radioactive materials in samples of soil and groundwater north of the burial site for nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II.
Buffalo News [Author: Thomas J. Prohaska]
Why N95 Masks Are Still in Short Supply in the U.S.
Today most consumers still aren't able to buy N95 masks, because the supply available to retailers remains very limited. Even hospital workers are still being asked to ration and reuse their supplies of N95s, and the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, "N-95 respirators should not be used [by the general public] because they should be conserved for healthcare personnel."
NPR [Author: Yuki Noguchi]
Fourteen New COVID-19 Infections Reported at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant; Caseload Climbs to 237
Fourteen new infections of COVID-19 were reported at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) last week, bringing the facility’s total caseload to 237. WIPP officials reported 209 of the infected had recovered. The latest cases included 11 among workers at Nuclear Waste Partnership, WIPP’s primary operations contractor, and three employers of subcontractors.
Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]
AP Explains: How Is the Defense Production Act Relevant?
The Defense Production Act gives the federal government broad authority to direct private companies to meet the needs of the national defense. Over the decades, the law’s powers have been understood to encompass not only times of war but also domestic emergency preparedness and recovery from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
Washington Post [Author: Andrew Selsky, Associated Press]
|Calendar Features||Back to Top|
Forklift Safety & Compliance: Answering the Tough Questions
Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks (PITs) have seen a renewed focus recently with the observance of National Forklift Safety Day, a revised ANSI lift truck industry standard, and a regulatory agenda item to revise the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard. The webinar will be held on Feb. 11 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
CSB's January 2021 Business Meeting Will Be Held in February
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will reschedule their January CSB Business Meeting for February 2021. Additional details regarding time and date will follow in the coming days. The meeting will cover the 2020 Impact Report, summarizing CSB's efforts last year.
Brownfields 2021 Second Call for Ideas Now Open
The call for ideas for the 2021 National Brownfields Training Conference is now open. A great Brownfields 2021 educational program will motivate brownfields stakeholders to engage, learn, and share their experiences and knowledge of community revitalization challenges and solutions. The Call for Ideas will close on Mar. 8.
Online Abstract Submissions for APHA’s "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness"
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is now accepting abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations for the APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts on the meeting theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness," and current and emerging public health issues. The deadline to submit is March 21.
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.
|On The Web This Week||Back to Top|
Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Relief Package Includes Worker Safety
President-elect Joe Biden announced a $1.9 trillion plan to benefit workers and instill workplace safety standards related to the pandemic on Jan. 14, according to Bloomberg Law. The proposal is intended to be the first part of a two-step plan. It specifies providing “relief to individuals and businesses” that have struggled due to COVID-19.
Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Nikki Johnson-Bolden]
It’s Been One Year Since the Watson Explosion in Houston. What’s Being Done to Prevent More?
Fire Triangle is a new podcast produced by Texas Public Radio in collaboration with Houston Public Media. This is the first story in a series about chemical disasters in Texas. Episode 1: Houston City Limits is now available.
Houston Public Media [Authors: Katie Watkins and Dominic Anthony Walsh, TPR]
FACE Report: Truck Driver Fatally Struck During Flatbed Trailer Unloading
New York State Department of Health Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program issued a report. A 53-year-old truck driver was struck and killed when fence pipes fell from a flatbed trailer during unloading at a fence sales company. It was raining when the driver arrived, and the company owner was the only person onsite. The trailer carried 18 bundles of pipes arranged in three tiers, with six bundles in each tier.
3D Printing and Worker Safety
3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology that has experienced widespread growth across numerous industries in recent years. It’s used in a wide variety of settings, including laboratories, factories, hospitals and schools. Still, despite its popularity, “3D printing is still a relatively new technology and there are many gaps in the information available about health and safety risks,” the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health cautions.
Employees Don’t Feel Safe Going to Work, Study Finds
According to a new study, 68% of workers globally do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings. The number is higher for those working remotely, 75%. And nearly one in four of those remote workers (23%) said they would look for a new job rather than return to a worksite that did not implement the necessary safety measures.
|Federal Agency Update||Back to Top|
Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety
On Jan. 21, President Biden issued an Executive Order calling for increased federal emphasis on worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, President Biden announced that “it is the policy of my Administration to protect the health and safety of workers from COVID-19.”
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Action to Place All Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers from Mexico on Import Alert to Help Prevent Entry of Violative and Potentially Dangerous Products into U.S., Protect U.S. Consumers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) continues efforts to protect consumers from potentially dangerous or subpotent hand sanitizers. The agency has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on a countrywide import alert to help stop products that appear to be in violation from entering the U.S. until the agency is able to review the products’ safety.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Superfund Turns 40
On Dec. 11, 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as Superfund, CERCLA authorizes the federal government to respond directly to contamination that may endanger public health or the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund program works to clean up sites placed on the National Priorities List (NPL).
GAO: Congressional Action Needed on West Valley Nuclear Waste Cleanup
A commercial facility in western New York known as the West Valley Demonstration Project reprocessed used nuclear fuel into usable nuclear material. It closed in 1976 but wastes remain and there are no facilities authorized to accept this waste. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) review found the U.S. Department of Energy cannot estimate the cleanup’s final cost until it decides how it will address the remaining waste.
EPA Delivers Results on PFAS Action Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a suite of actions from across the agency that will continue the significant progress the agency has made to implement the PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern. EPA has made progress in all of its program areas under the Action Plan.
EPA Says Release of Final Risk Evaluation for Pigment Violet 29 a TSCA ‘Milestone’
The chemical substance Pigment Violet 29 poses unreasonable risk to workers under certain conditions, states a final risk evaluation recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which now is compelled to propose within one-year regulatory action to mitigate the chemical’s hazards.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning||Back to Top|
Five-Year NIEHS Grant Allows UML-Based Institute to Expand Offerings
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 at Lowell over the past three decades.
UMass Lowell [Author: Ed Brennen]
CSEA Safety and Health Webinars
CSEA, one of New York’s largest worker unions, has been offering safety and health webinars to answer the most asked questions regarding how the vaccines work, employee rights, the New York State Roll Out Plan, and post-vaccine protocols in the workplace. Past webinar recordings are available to the public at no cost.
Addressing the Role of the Vaccine in Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Webinar Recording Available
The recording and presentations from the Jan. 14 webinar, “Addressing the Role of the Vaccine in Workplace COVID-19 Prevention: How to Weed through Misinformation, Mistrust, and Improve Worker Protection,” hosted by the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), are now available online, along with a host of other COVID-19 materials.
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.
|Job Openings||Back 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.
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.
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.
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.
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