July 12, 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 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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Worker Training Program Supplements
The Worker Training Program (WTP) provides administrative supplements to support the training of workers who may be exposed to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation, and environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response. Supplements are also granted to address emerging occupational hazards, new regulations, and response to natural or man-made disasters. For more information, please visit the Worker Training Program Current Funding Opportunities page. Grantees are encouraged to contact their program officers before submitting an administrative supplement. Request due dates for the 2019 General Administrative Supplements are July 19.
Mourners Pack Queens Church to Honor 9/11 First Responder Det. Luis Alvarez, a Ground Zero Hero Killed by Cancer
In the final hours of his shortened life, heroic 9/11 first responder Det. Luis Alvarez was in hospice care when he spoke of the colleagues poisoned alongside him in the toxins of Ground Zero. The 53-year-old Alvarez was fondly recalled at a crowded Queens funeral Mass where he was remembered for both his heroic three-month effort at Ground Zero and his appearance last month before Congress only weeks before his death from 9/11-related cancer June 29.
New York Daily News [Author: Larry McShane and Elizabeth Keogh]
Trump Commits to Federal Assistance After 7.1 Quake Shakes SoCal, Rattles Bay Area
Governor Gavin Newsom said at a news conference July 6 that President Donald Trump is committed to the region’s recovery from the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that rocked Southern California Friday and sent shock waves of concern throughout the quake-prone Bay Area. Speaking before reporters in Ridgecrest, Newsom said he spoke with the president “quite literally 5 minutes ago” and was told he and the state will get “whatever you need.” The governor also credited the president for following through on previous commitments to help after deadly fires that ravaged the state late last year.
Mercury News [Author: Jason Green]
Chemical Safety Board Reiterates Need for Review of Toxic Chemical Hydrofluoric Acid
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still considering for now on whether it will review its 1993 study of hydrofluoric acid (HF). The Chemical Safety Board and congressional lawmakers are urging the agency to take action to prevent a catastrophic disaster. Hydrogen fluoride is a chemical used in a variety of industries, but it’s used as a catalyst in alkylation units at refineries as part of the process to make high-octane gasoline. The chemical can cause hazardous health effects, if released, ranging from lung damage to severe burns depending on the amount and length of exposure. The board sent a letter to the agency in April calling on the EPA to review the study to ensure refineries’ risk management plans are adequate to prevent HF releases and determine whether commercially viable, safer technologies may be available.
Wisconsin Public Radio [Author: Danielle Kaeding]
US Admits Low-Level Radioactive Waste Was Shipped to Nevada for Years
A Nevada congressman called for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry's resignation July 10 after the department acknowledged dozens of shipments of low-level radioactive waste shipped to the Nevada National Security Site outside of Las Vegas may have been mislabeled and out of compliance with safety regulations for years. The department announced it has suspended shipments of the waste from Tennessee to Nevada while it investigates whether the materials were "potentially mischaracterized" as the wrong category of low-level waste. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette also has ordered a department-wide assessment of its "procedures and practices for packaging and shipping all radioactive waste types," according to a memo the department made public.
Associated Press [Author: Scott Sonner]
Plutonium-Contaminated Hanford ‘Canyon’ Is Deteriorating. Environment Is at Risk, Study Says
The huge PUREX processing plant at Hanford is at risk of releasing radioactive contamination into the environment the longer it remains standing, according to a new Department of Energy report. The plant built in 1956 is heavily contaminated after being used to chemically process irradiated fuel rods to remove plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program. But given other pressing environmental cleanup priorities at the 580-square-mile nuclear reservation, a decision on how to do final cleanup and likely tear down the plant is not expected until about 2032.
Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]
Federal Agency Approves Idaho Hazardous Waste Revisions
Idaho businesses that produce hazardous waste can now use an electronic tracking system rather than paper forms following the federal government's approval Tuesday of Idaho's request to revise some of its rules. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave final authorization for the state to make changes involving the regulation of toxic, poisonous, corrosive, ignitable and other wastes. Another change involves solvent-contaminated rags that can now be washed and reused rather than sent to disposal sites. Auto repair shops and industrial manufacturers could benefit from the change, state officials said.
Associated Press [Author: Keith Ridler]
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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.
Request for Written Comments on an Updated Health Literacy Definition for Healthy People 2030
The 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.”
National Cleanup Workshop: Advancing Goal-Oriented Nuclear Waste Cleanup, Today and Tomorrow
Join senior 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.
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.
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.
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To Dan Snyder, this is a typical email announcing workplace safety training: “Safety training, 9 o’clock on July 8. Be there or be square.” It’s a simple, uniform message on the surface, but in Snyder’s experience, this kind of “check the box” approach often breeds frustration and apathy among workers – and could result in fewer attendees in the training room. Safety+Health recently discussed strategies for improving safety training attendance and engagement with Snyder, president and CEO of SPAN International Training LLC, as well as veteran safety consultant Carl Potter, founder and CEO of the Safety Institute, and David Consider, senior workplace consultant and trainer for the National Safety Council.
Treating the Deadly Opioid Epidemic Is a Top Concern for UAW Negotiations
People are dying. They're dying across the country, an average of more than 130 people a day amid the deadliest U.S. drug epidemic in the modern era. But the fast-spreading opioid crisis has taken an especially large toll in Kentucky, where Ford Motor Co. has nearly 14,000 workers at two of its biggest assembly plants. It's just a matter of statistics, UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn says, that the casualties include some of those workers and their families.
Automotive News [Author: Jackie Charniga]
Study: If a Family Member Is Prescribed Opioids, You Have a Higher Risk of Overdose
A new study provides more evidence that America’s ongoing opioid epidemic was fueled by doctors prescribing more painkillers than patients needed — leading to what’s now the deadliest drug overdose crisis in U.S. history. For the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Harvard researchers looked at overdoses that resulted in an emergency room visit or hospitalization and whether the patient’s family members were previously prescribed opioids. They found that individuals with family members who previously received opioid prescriptions were about three times as likely to report an overdose ending with a hospitalization or an ER visit, compared to those whose family members did not get opioids. And the more opioids a family member was prescribed, the higher the risk of such an overdose.
Vox [Author: German Lopez]
CSB Calls for New Onshore Drilling Rules After Blowout Kills Five
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has urged regulators to develop safety standards for onshore oil and gas drillers, and address shortcomings in alarm management after a blowout killed five workers last year. The fatal fire is the deadliest drilling incident since the Deepwater Horizon blowout killed 11 people in 2010. The fire occurred at a drilling operation in Oklahoma in January last year after two crucial safety barriers failed. Hydrostatic pressure in the Pryor Trust well was not maintained, allowing gas to escape, and this escaping gas was not detected by operators due in part because they had turned off the entire alarm system. In short, the CSB says its investigation found that lack of planning, training, equipment, skills and procedures contributed to the failure.
The Chemical Engineer [Adam Duckett]
Workplace Violence Affects 2 Million Americans per Year
Staying safe on the job can call for varied approaches and protocols — wearing proper safety equipment, not driving while drowsy or impaired, following safety guidelines for machinery and many more. But increasingly, workers are also concerned about their safety from violence at their workplaces. About 2 million American workers annually are victims of workplace violence. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite.”
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New NIOSH Report: Process for Chemical Exposure Branding
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a chemical management strategy that can quickly and accurately assign chemicals into categories, or "brands" in order to protect workers on the job, according to a press release from the agency. A vast number of chemical substances do not have occupational exposure limits for the workplace potentially exposing workers to substances at levels that could be harmful. In an effort to educate and prevent harm, a new Technical Report, The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Branding Process for Chemical Management, was published. It provides a process with easy procedures and clear rules for assignment and can be used in a broad spectrum of workplace settings.
NIOSH Kicks Off Future of Work Initiative
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently launched a new Future of Work Initiative to more broadly address future worker, safety, and well-being. This new initiative is a collaborative effort across NIOSH and other agencies and organizations to identify novel research solutions and practical approaches to address the future of work.
EPA Requests Input on Draft Risk Evaluations for Two TSCA Chemicals
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on draft risk evaluations for two chemical substances that are among the first 10 slated for evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, according to a notice published in the July 1 Federal Register. The draft for the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster – which includes a sub-cluster that is used as a flame retardant in extruded polystyrene foam, textiles, and electrical and electronic appliances – states that the chemical presents “no unreasonable risks” to the general population, workers or the environment.
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Innovative Approaches to Address PFAS
Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded scientists and engineers are using innovative approaches to understand the health effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a large group of compounds found in aqueous film-forming foams, which have been used for fire suppression at airports, industrial facilities, and military sites, and in everyday products. They also are exploring how PFAS move and change in the environment and how to clean them up to better protect human health. In North Carolina, Lee Ferguson, Ph.D., who leads the Duke University SRP Center Analytical Chemistry Core, and colleagues discovered elevated levels of several PFAS in a lake that supplies drinking water to nearby residents and in drinking water treated by a town. Ferguson uses non-targeted approaches to identify many different contaminants in water. He also leads the PFAS Testing network through the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, July 26th.
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