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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: July 5, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, July 5, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

July 5, 2019

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

Stress and Addiction Addressed by Worker Training Program

Interventions to reduce workplace stress and addiction took center stage at the 2019 Worker Training Program (WTP) workshop May 15-16 in Pittsburgh. WTP seeks to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers by engaging in conversations like these. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, lower wages and long hours can contribute to stress in workers. Such stress is common in physically demanding and hazardous jobs, like those in the construction, industrial, transportation, and other sectors targeted by WTP training. Post-traumatic stress disorder also occurs, notably among workers involved in emergency and disaster response. Recently, WTP grantees have reported that these stressors, as well as opioid addiction and suicide, are affecting the populations they train. “Impacts on mental health can last longer than most physical injuries,” said Ashlee Fitch, lead researcher for the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization, a WTP grantee.

NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Kenda Freeman]

Chief Investigator of the Philly Refinery Explosion Describes a Landscape of Twisted Steel

The head of a federal agency investigating the explosions and fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions on June 21 called the incident “catastrophic” and said the main unit where blasts occurred is still too dangerous for investigators to enter, calling it a landscape of twisted metal. Kristen Kulinowski, interim executive for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, said at a briefing June 27 that a cause has not yet been determined by four investigators from the independent agency now on the scene. But she did release new details of that day.

Philadelphia Inquirer [Author: Andrew Maykuth]

Lawsuit: Residents Near Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Have Been 'Sacrificial Lambs'

A new class-action lawsuit has been filed against companies accused of exposing Pike County residents to toxic contaminants by a plant that once was used for uranium enrichment. This is the second lawsuit filed after a Pike County middle school was closed this spring due to radioactivity detected in the building. The radioactivity came from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which enriched uranium between 1954 and 2001 for the nation’s nuclear arsenal and for commercial nuclear reactors, officials said. It is in the process of decommissioning. Under the new class-action suit, the plaintiffs seek to represent current and former residents and property owners who live within a seven-mile radius of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The suit was filed June 28 in federal court.

Cincinnati Enquirer [Author: Sarah Brookbank]

Deadly Day for Workers Refocuses Spotlight on Industry Safety Progress

By the afternoon of June 13, three industry workers had suffered fatal injuries in unrelated incidents across as many states. With collection workers continuing to remain in the top five most dangerous occupations year after year, and injury rates for most industry jobs still higher than the national average, it remains hard to show forward momentum. Coupled with other recent non-fatal incidents, these June fatalities are making progress look even more tenuous. All deaths remain under investigation and don't appear to share common causes — but they serve as the latest reminder that 2019 may go down as a bad year for worker safety.

Waste Dive [Author: Cole Rosengren]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

DOL Announces Meeting for Construction Safety and Health

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced it will be holding a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health July 17-18 in Washington, D.C. The tentative agenda includes updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration directorates, a discussion of proposals to add a reference to the definition of “confined space” that applies to welding activities in construction, and to clarify the requirements for the fit of personal protective equipment in construction. The committee will meet from noon to 4 p.m. EDT July 17 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT July 18. Both meetings will be held in Conference Rooms N-5437 A-D at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. The meeting is open to the public.

Construction and Demolition Recycling

Request for Written Comments on an Updated Health Literacy Definition for Healthy People 2030

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services invites comments on a proposed new health literacy definition for Healthy People 2030. Read the full request for comments and find instructions on how to comment in the Federal Register. Please submit your comments by July 20, 2019. Healthy People sets health promotion goals for the nation. The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030 has proposed a new definition of health literacy for Healthy People 2030: “Health literacy occurs when a society provides accurate health information and services that people can easily find, understand, and use to inform their decisions and actions.”

Request for Comments

National Cleanup Workshop: Advancing Goal-Oriented Nuclear Waste Cleanup, Today and Tomorrow

Join senior U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) executives and site officials, industry leaders, national and local elected officials, and other stakeholders September 10-12, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia, for the fifth annual National Cleanup Workshop to discuss the DOE’s progress on the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation's Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons program.

Workshop Registration

APHA Annual Meeting: Creating the Healthiest Nation: For Science. For Action. For Health.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a healthier nation. In light of today’s most pressing health issues, science and advocacy are the keys to developing health equity to improve the lives of people locally, nationally and worldwide. The American Public Health Association (APHA)’s Annual Meeting and Expo will be held November 2-6, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Annual Meeting gives more than 12,000 public health professionals an opportunity to put science and action to work to achieve a healthier nation.

Annual Meeting Registration

2019 National Brownfields Training Conference

Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association, the National Brownfields Training Conference will take place December 10-13, 2019, in Los Angeles, CA at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Offered every two years, the conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. Registration is now available.

Conference Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

CSB Says Policies Will Be Re-Examined After Recent Incident Reports Omit Names of Workers Who Died

The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will look into its recent decision to not include in its reports the names of workers who died in chemical incidents, the agency’s interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski said during a June 25 public business meeting. Kulinowski’s statement was made in response to two letters: One signed by a group of more than 50 advocates, including the executive directors of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, and another from United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities.

Safety and Health Magazine

Your Business Can't Afford to Ignore the Risks of Workplace Violence Any Longer

The threat of workplace violence is a growing risk to businesses of all sizes across the United States. According to the National Safety Council, there were more than 18,000 reported cases of workplace assaults and 458 cases of workplace homicides in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. That’s an average of 49 assaults and 1.3 homicides occurring in the workplace each day. Despite this, understanding the causes of workplace violence, assessing the risk of an event and implementing policies and plans to reduce that risk aren’t on the radar of most business owners.

Forbes [Author: Ivy Walker]

Safer Nuclear Reactors Are on the Way

Manufacturers such as Westinghouse Electric Company and Framatome are hastening development of so-called accident-tolerant fuels that are less likely to overheat—and if they do, will produce very little or no hydrogen. In some of the variations, the zirconium cladding is coated to minimize reactions. In others, zirconium and even the uranium dioxide are replaced with different materials. The new configurations could be slipped into existing reactors with little modification, so they could be phased in during the 2020s. Thorough in-core testing, which has begun, would have to prove successful, and regulators would have to be satisfied. In a bonus, the new fuels could help plants run more efficiently, making nuclear power more cost-competitive—a significant motivation for manufacturers and electric utilities because natural gas, solar and wind energy are less expensive.

Scientific American [Author: Mark Fischetti]

Remains of Genoa Bridge Demolished One Year After Deadly Disaster

The remains of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, have been demolished, almost one year after a portion of the bridge collapsed and killed 43 people. The controlled explosion brought down two 90-metre-tall towers, consisting of 4500 tonnes of concrete and steel. Water tanks and water cannons were placed around the towers to create a wall of water, preventing the spread of dust.

New Scientist [Author: Sam Wong]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Partnership Opportunity to Develop New Designs of Powered Air-Purifying Respirators for Healthcare Workers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announces the opportunity for inventors, researchers, and/or respirator manufacturers to participate, through a collaborative agreement, in a project titled “New Generation Powered Air-Purifying Respirators,” to develop new designs of powered air-purifying respirators for healthcare workers. NIOSH is seeking to identify inventors, researchers, and/or respirator manufacturers with the respirator design and manufacturing capabilities to construct a new respirator prototype, based on the characteristics included in this notice.

Federal Register Notice

Growing Consensus on Rural Opioids

Speaking at the Rockville Hilton before one of the largest gatherings of its kind, Dr. George Sigounas outlined June 2 a five-point Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) plan for "bridging the treatment gap" and blunting the opioid crisis in rural America. He told some 400 grantees, advocates and clinicians that they hold the key to finding "solutions (that) serve the American people, particularly those afflicted with substance abuse and behavioral health needs." Funding for HRSA's four rural opioid response programs over just the past two years, he added, represent "the largest budget increase the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has ever seen," one also marked by new opioid outlays for HRSA-funded health centers, Ryan White clinics and National Health Service Corps placements to affected communities.


Rural Opioid "Army" Gathers

"Often, the first responder is another drug user," said Maddy Magnuson, director of Harm Reduction for the Health Equity Alliance of Maine, which has fought for wider distribution of naloxone kits in her heavily rural state and passage of a Good Samaritan law Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Exit Disclaimer to shield those who administer the lifesaving drug against liability or arrest.


U.S. EPA Awards $175,000 to Nevada Division of Environmental Protection for Abandoned Mines Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded $175,000 to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to assess and prioritize abandoned mines for potential cleanup. NDEP’s Abandoned Mine Lands Program mitigates potential human health and ecological concerns associated with contamination from the state’s historic heavy-metal mining operations. These sites generally operated from the 1860s through the late 20th century on both public and private lands statewide. Sites may include mills, mill tailings, acid mine drainage, waste rock dumps, heap leach pads, pit lakes, chemical hazards, and associated structures and roads. EPA’s grant will fund preliminary assessments, which includes site visits, soil sampling and subsequent scientific analyses to determine if potential environmental or public health hazards exist. The information will be used by Nevada to determine if cleanup is needed and prioritize that work.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

What to Do If a Worker Falls

Falls are the leading cause of jobsite deaths in the construction industry, and account for 30% of nonfatal injuries. Fall prevention is also the most frequently violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard, according to the agency. A webinar hosted by the Center for Construction Research and Training makes clear that it’s not just a fall that can be dangerous. Workers suffer serious health consequences when their fall arrest equipment works as expected. Suspension trauma or hanging syndrome, also called orthostatic intolerance, occurs when workers suffer a fall but are saved by their harness. It’s caused by blood pooling in the veins, and can come on quickly.

Colorado Builder Magazine

Job OpeningsBack to Top

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, liaison with unions and production and distribution of appropriate safety and health materials. Candidate must be a self-starter, able to work independently and have a demonstrated record of successful programmatic work. To apply, please email your resume and cover letter to by Friday, July 26th.

NYCOSH Contact Information

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