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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: July 19, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, July 19, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

July 19, 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

‘Toxic Stew’ Stirred Up by Disasters Poses Long-Term Danger, New Findings Show

New research shows that the extreme weather and fires of recent years, similar to the flooding that has struck Louisiana and the Midwest, may be making Americans sick in ways researchers are only beginning to understand. By knocking chemicals loose from soil, homes, industrial-waste sites or other sources, and spreading them into the air, water and ground, disasters like these — often intensified by climate change — appear to be exposing people to an array of physical ailments including respiratory disease and cancer.

New York Times [Author: Christopher Flavelle]

Burned Out? You’re Not Alone. And the World Is Finally Paying Attention

As our jobs become all-consuming, with employees answering e-mails around the clock and companies trying to squeeze higher profits out of fewer people, more attention is being paid to the effect all of this is having on workers’ psyches. In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it is developing guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace and unveiled an expanded definition of “burnout,” based on new research in its International Classification of Diseases. Burnout is a syndrome resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” according to WHO’s description, characterized by feelings of exhaustion, reduced effectiveness, and negative or disconnected feelings toward one’s job.

The Boston Globe [Author: Katie Johnston]

WHO Declares Ebola in Congo to Be Emergency of ‘International Concern’

The World Health Organization (WHO) took the rare step on July 17 of classifying an ongoing Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo as a “public health emergency of international concern,” just days after a first case of the virus was confirmed in the major city of Goma on the border with Rwanda. The last time the global health body declared an international emergency for Ebola was during the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people. The designation means this outbreak qualifies for a higher level of global vigilance and mobilization to stem its spread.

The Washington Post [Author: Max Bearak]

As Temperatures Climb, There’s a New Federal Push to Keep Workers Safe

It’s a scene that plays out on airport tarmacs, in farm fields and on construction sites across the country: workers falling ill after laboring in hot or humid conditions for long hours without enough water and rest. Over the past decade, more than 350 workers nationwide have died from heat-related illness, according to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tens of thousands have had heat-related illnesses serious enough that they missed at least one day of work. For years, labor leaders have called on the federal government to create national regulations laying out steps employers must take to keep workers safe when it’s hot outside. On July 10, U.S. Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced legislation that for the first time would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create heat-related workplace standards.

USA Today [Author: Anna Maria Barry-Jester]

NIOSH Develops Exposure Management Strategy for Harmful Chemicals

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a strategy for managing potentially harmful chemicals that would assign them into categories to help protect workers. A vast number of chemical substances in commerce do not have occupational exposure limits, meaning that workers may be exposed to these substances at potentially harmful levels, John Howard, director of NIOSH, said in a publication released July 10. Occupational exposure limits are a “central component” of safety and health programs because they serve as indicators of hazards and triggers for implementing control strategies, but in their absence a process called occupational exposure banding can quickly and accurately assign chemical substances into categories or “bands” based on their associated health outcomes and on potency considerations, he said.

Business Insurance [Author: Gloria Gonzalez]

Feds Reject Two of Washington State’s Requirements for Cleanup of Hanford Radioactive Waste

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has rejected two of the five new requirements and related deadlines for Hanford cleanup recently set by the Washington state Department of Ecology, including a requirement that it design new waste storage tanks. However, DOE remains open to negotiations on them, according to DOE’s response sent to the Department of Ecology July 11. DOE rejected requirements that it designs new waste storage tanks as the nuclear reservation’s 27 double-shell tanks near capacity and that it builds five more barriers over the ground at single-shell tank farms.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

Mayor Eric Garcetti Challenges Neighborhood Leaders to Train for Earthquakes

A week after a string of strong earthquakes jolted Southern California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged neighborhood leaders July 12 to prepare for the next big one. Garcetti called on the city's 100 or so neighborhood councils to appoint "preparedness officers" to work with residents to come up with emergency response plans in case of a massive earthquake or fire. The mayor wants the preparedness officers to enroll in free, city-led classes on emergencies and disasters, then teach what they've learned to their respective groups at block parties or other events.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Dakota Smith]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Webinar: Tapering Guidance for Opioids: Existing Best Practices and Evidence Standards

The Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic will host a public webinar on July 22 at 3 p.m. ET on best practices and evidence standards for opioid tapering. The webinar will feature experts who will discuss current guidance for opioid tapering, how this guidance is applied in practice, and the strength of the evidence behind these protocols. Five panelists will present patient case scenarios and discuss pain management challenges through patient and caregiver perspectives, in order to inform best practices and identify evidence gaps.

Webinar Registration

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.

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

Notice of Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant

This notice announces the availability of one $1,400,000 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant and solicits proposals from eligible entities to conduct research and provide technical assistance to new, existing, and/or prospective U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grantees. In addition to providing on-going technical assistance throughout the project period, the successful applicant will be responsible for developing an annual meeting to facilitate peer-to-peer networking and provide training to the EWDJT grantees. The award is anticipated to be funded incrementally on an annual basis over seven years, at approximately $200,000 per year. Proposals must be submitted through by 11:59 p.m. ET on September 20, 2019.

EPA Brownfields Grant

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Video of Public Meeting 3: Committee on Examination of the Integration of Opioid and Infectious Disease Prevention Efforts in Select Programs

On June 27 and 28, 2019 the Committee on the Examination of the Integration of Opioid and Infectious Disease Prevention Efforts in Select Programs held a public session during their third committee meeting at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC. The committee heard from invited speakers regarding topics pertaining to the statement of task. The presenters included Aaron Fox and Shira Shavit, Christopher Bositis, and James Wilson and Barbara Schott.

National Academies

New Interagency Security Committee Report: Violence in the Federal Workplace: A Guide for Prevention and Response

The overwhelming majority of instances of Federal workplace violence were a result of acts conducted by employees and customers—individuals who were permitted to be at the Federal site. One example of this type of incident occurred on September 16, 2013 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The Navy Yard shooting is an extreme example of how an office setting can be affected by workplace violence. Fortunately, tragic events such as these are still the exception. Most acts of Federal workplace violence occur as some form of verbal or non-verbal threat, bullying, harassment, intimidation, or non-fatal physical assault. However, it is important to remember that acts of physical violence might start with behavioral risk indicators. Agencies must take all reported safety concerns seriously and respond appropriately. It is also important to note that most threats will not lead to a violent act in the majority of cases. The threat itself, however, affects the workplace and must be addressed.

Interagency Security Committee

Mindfulness and Its Impact on Health and Safety

Mindfulness is a practice that heightens our awareness, a tool that allows you to be responsive instead of reactive, and a method to help quiet constant brain chatter. Also known as staying in the present moment, mindfulness has applications at home, in relationships, and especially in the workplace. According to a recent study, employees who practice mindfulness are more productive, safe, and resilient and have a more positive outlook on life than those who do not practice. It can be utilized on a daily basis to impact nutrition, stress, injury prevention, and additional topics specific to a worker. Body mindfulness also can be applied to understanding how the body feels while performing tasks, promotes addressing body mechanics, and encourages proactive action on muscular skeletal disorders.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Kris Corbett]

Duluth Leaders Push for Closer Look at Toxic Refinery Chemical

On July 15, the Duluth City Council plans to vote on a resolution asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study the use of hydrogen fluoride in refineries to ensure the safety of communities like Duluth and Superior. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson won't easily forget the day in April 2018 when a massive explosion and fire rocked the Husky Energy oil refinery in neighboring Superior, Wis., sending a towering plume of thick, black smoke into the sky, and forcing the evacuation of much of the city across the St. Louis River. The explosion sent shrapnel flying, piercing an enormous asphalt tank, which caused the fire. But it missed a nearby tank storing hydrogen fluoride, a highly toxic chemical compound used to make high-octane gasoline. Hydrogen fluoride can be fatal if it's inhaled.

Minnesota Public Radio [Author: Dan Kraker]

Q&A: Veteran NPR Reporter Talks about Worker Safety

On this West Virginia Morning, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, on average, about 14 people a day in the United States are killed while working. This weekend’s episode of Inside Appalachia explores how weak regulatory laws, and a failure to prioritize worker safety, may be contributing to more deaths, and a higher risk of workplace accidents. This morning, we’ll hear a preview of the episode. Roxy Todd talks with investigative reporter Howard Berkes, who recently retired from NPR after working for nearly four decades reporting on worker safety.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Oregon OSHA Offers Safety Grants

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking creative ideas related to workplace safety or health training programs. The agency is accepting grant applications for the creation of innovative on-the-job safety and health training programs. Oregon OSHA encourages unique projects, such as mobile apps, videos or online educational games to engage workers. The deadline to apply is Friday, Oct. 4 by 5 p.m. For more information, visit and click on “Grant programs.”

East Oregonian

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Report: EPA Region 6 Quickly Assessed Water Infrastructure after Hurricane Harvey but Can Improve Emergency Outreach to Disadvantaged Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 water-related response focused on determining the operational status of drinking water and wastewater facilities over a 3-week period in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Extensive preparation activities and close working relationships with state emergency response partners enabled Region 6 to protect human health and water sector resources as part of its Hurricane Harvey mission assignment. The Region 6 Superfund and Water Quality divisions coordinated with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to conduct drinking water and wastewater facility reviews, as well as to perform limited on-site technical assistance. These reviews enabled EPA and TCEQ response staff to successfully determine and track the operational status of facilities.


Blowing Smoke: What Can Firefighters’ Breath Reveal About Chemical Exposure During a Fire?

Even using protective equipment, firefighters still have a higher cancer rate than the general population, which studies have linked in part to their increased exposure to the dangerous compounds in smoke. Recent research led by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health examined firefighters’ exposure to volatile organic compounds during structure fires by analyzing their exhaled breath before and after controlled burns. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists offered technical support, developing a method to analyze breath samples, studying the data, and authoring several reports on their findings — all in hopes of better understanding firefighters’ chemical exposure and protecting their health.

EPA Blog

Archived Applying Dissemination and Implementation Science to Total Worker Health Research and Practice: What We Need to Know Webinar Available

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Total Worker Health (TWH) Webinar series webinar from June 2, titled Applying Dissemination and Implementation Science to Total Worker Health Research and Practice: What We Need to Know, is now available to the public. The webinar focused on the theory and practice of research dissemination and implementation in the workplace. The speakers included Dr. Ross Brownson, Dr. Tom Cunningham, and Dr. Pamela Tinc.

Center for Disease Control and Prevent NIOSH Webinars

Workplace Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure Among U.S. Nonsmoking Workers, 2015

Nonsmoking workers residing in states without comprehensive smoke-free laws and workers employed in certain industries were more likely to be frequently exposed to workplace secondhand smoke (SHS). Industry subcategories with the highest prevalences of SHS exposure, and the industry category with the highest number of exposed workers (construction), include outdoor workplaces and other settings unlikely to be protected by smoke-free laws.

Center for Disease Control and Prevent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Ergonomic Assembly Tools Can Ease the Pain of Manufacturing

Manufacturing industries, with diverse fastening applications from the motor vehicle industry to appliances and aerospace to white goods, rely on assembly tools such as air-powered screwdrivers, nut runners, and drills. These tools are a driving force in bringing products to market, but they can also be the cause of undue pain for their operators if ergonomics are not applied to the tool and how the tool is used. Assembly tools are used continuously throughout the day, day in and day out. Without proper ergonomics, the repetitive motion when using these tools can lead to fatigue, hand and arm stress, and even injury. To relieve potential pain and stress for the workforce, assembly tool manufacturers are keenly focused on improving the ergonomic qualities of their products.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Eric Dees]

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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