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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: July 2, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, July 2, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

July 2, 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.

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

The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Fueling the Opioid Crisis!

The Clearinghouse developed a fact sheet on COVID-19’s impact on the opioid crisis. The fact sheet identifies the link between the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased risk of opioid misuse and provides tips to manage stressors caused by the pandemic.

WTP Opioids and the Workplace Toolbox

California Adopts First in the Nation Workplace Safety Standards Protecting Nighttime Agricultural Workers from Hazards

California has adopted new workplace safety standards to protect agricultural employees who work at night. These are the first lighting standards in the nation written specifically to protect agricultural workers who harvest, operate vehicles and do other jobs between sunset and sunrise. The new standards, which will be enforced by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), will become effective July 1.


North Carolina Essential Workers Demand Input on Safety Rules. Employees Want a Say in Creating Policy

Donielle Prophete was one of a dozen workers in essential industries ranging from childcare to transportation demanding input on workplace safety standards as part of “Essential Not Expendable: Frontline Worker Hearing on Health & Safety in North Carolina.” The COVID-19 pandemic, they contend, has put them at unnecessary risk of infection without consideration of their wellbeing or compensation for hazards they face. They are lobbying for creation of a Health & Safety Council to address their concerns.

The Charlotte Post [Author: Herbert L. White]

For Some Environmentalists, 'I Can't Breathe' Is About More Than Police Brutality

Communities of color in the U.S. are more likely to breathe air pollution, despite contributing less to fouling the air. They are more likely to be exposed to contaminated water, and to live near hazardous waste sites. And as the climate crisis worsens, many groups – including poor communities and communities of color – are the most vulnerable to the dangers of a warming planet.

WRCB [Authors: Isabelle Chapman and Drew Kann]

Waste Industry Focuses on PFAS Strategies, Research As Long-Term Concerns Mount

The presence of "forever chemicals" in the waste stream remains a top concern for the industry, as operators shift towards long-term planning and experts increasingly point to potential future breakthroughs around treatment methodologies. This year's virtual SWANApalooza (hosted by the Solid Waste Association of North America) featured numerous panels devoted to issues surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Waste Dive [Author: E.A. Crunden]

COVID-19’s Coming Mental Health Toll Is a ‘Disease of Despair’

The coming crisis, created by massive unemployment, social isolation and uncertainty about the future, has already caused a doubling of anxiety and depression from 2014, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey released late last month. Now, a Texas group is predicting the ultimate mental health cost: a big spike in deaths because of suicide and drug overdose.

Houston Chronicle [Author: Todd Ackerman]

‘I Still Have Nightmares Every Night’ – Health Workers Struggle With PTSD Symptoms As Coronavirus Takes Toll

Health-care workers are fighting a new battle regarding their mental health and well-being due to COVID-19. Some workers are experiencing symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Others are anxious, stressed and still living in fear of spreading the disease to family members. Front-line workers and their families are significantly more likely to have the coronavirus impact their mental health and well-being.

CNBC [Author: Michael Wayland]

Fight Over COVID-19 Workplace Rules Moves to States

The battle over workplace safety rules during the coronavirus is spreading to states. Virginia last week took a major step toward creating its own set of safety rules for workplaces amid frustration with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declining to impose a nationwide COVID-19 standard.

The Hill [Author: Alex Gangitano]

New Report Underscores Racial Prejudices in Superfund Sites

A new report by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law highlights the disproportionate manner in which Superfund sites – home to the country’s most hazardous waste – affect low-income people of color in the U.S. The report, released June 30, underscores what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development signaled in 2017: 70 percent of the country’s Superfund sites listed on the National Priorities List are located within a mile of government-assisted housing.

The Hill [Author: Marty Johnson]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Chemical Hazards During COVID-19: Disinfectants, Cleaning Chemicals & Tear Gas

The Deep South Biosafety Worker Training Program is hosting a webinar on July 9 at 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT. The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges to EMS and healthcare providers including responding and managing injuries from exposures to cleaning chemicals and disinfectants by patients who are concerned with virus transmission. The webinar will discuss these hazards and appropriate responses.

Webinar Information

COVID-19 Complexities: Converging Threats, Fractured Resources Virtual Webinar

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense is hosting a virtual webinar, COVID Complexities: Converging Threats, Fractured Resources, to help the Commission better understand the potential for COVID-19’s reemergence, the country’s efforts to track the spread of the disease, and national readiness to address future biological threats. The webinar will be held on July 21 at 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET.

Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

Brownfields 2021: Call for Ideas Now Open!

The Brownfields 2021 Call for Ideas is now open. Please submit ideas for dynamic educational sessions in Oklahoma City that will motivate brownfields stakeholders to engage, learn, and share their experiences and knowledge of community revitalization challenges and solutions. Submissions must be received by Aug. 24 for consideration.

More Information

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Workplace – Risk Factors and Solutions

New Solutions seeks manuscripts on the subject of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its occupational and environmental health policy impacts from the local to international levels. The journal is accepting a variety of topics and article types. The extended deadline to submit manuscripts is now Aug. 31.

Call for Papers

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Science and Equality of Opportunity

Statement from Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences: Since I issued my statement on racial inequality as president of the National Academy of Sciences, many scientists have written asking how they can help rectify this situation. Sadly, I believe that in the past science has been, or at least was perceived to have been, part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Occupational Exposure of Foundry Workers Assessed by the Urinary Concentrations of 18 Elements and Arsenic Species

The study found the monitored foundry workers are exposed to potentially toxic elements and more attention must be given to their health. Therefore, workplace safety conditions must be improved, and constant biomonitoring is necessary to ensure workers' health.


Chemical Weapons Destruction Halfway Complete

The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA) mission is halfway complete, with a combined 1,568 U.S. tons of safely destroyed chemical agents in Colorado and Kentucky as of June 20. The Kentucky portion of the chemical weapons are being demilitarized at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity Pilot Plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot, according to a news release.

Richmond Register

Culinary Union Wants Everyone to Wear a Mask to Protect Workers from COVID-19

Members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 are calling for anyone visiting a casino or resort to wear mandatory face coverings or masks. Members of the union represent about 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including most of the casinos and resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas.

Eater Las Vegas [Author: Susan Stapleton]

New Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce Initiative Encourages Women to Enter Manufacturing

A new workforce development initiative created by the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce is encouraging women to pursue careers in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing industry through partnership with the newly founded Tennessee chapter of the Women in Manufacturing organization.

Chattanooga Times Free Press [Author: Dave Flessner]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on June 24, announcing the availability of the final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for methylene chloride. This is the first risk evaluation that EPA has completed under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) amendments to TSCA.

Federal Register

USDA Used Questionable Worker Safety Data in Drafting Pork Inspection Rules, Inspector General Says

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not evaluate the accuracy of worker safety data it used to make its case for a new hog inspection system that allows plants to run processing lines at unlimited speeds, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has concluded. The report also found that USDA was not transparent about the raw data it used in its worker safety analysis, making it impossible for outside experts to evaluate the agency’s conclusions.

OIG Report

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Protecting Workers Through Publicity: Promoting Workplace Law Compliance Through Strategic Communication

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program released a toolkit on protecting workers through publicity. The toolkit explains why labor enforcement agencies should use media and other means of strategic communication, provides guidance for agencies about how to seek media coverage, and shares insights from agency officials, journalists, and communications experts.


Resources on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Research in social science, medicine, and other fields can shed light on the factors that drive systemic racial inequities – not only in society at large, but also within the sciences, engineering, and medicine – with the goal of finding solutions based on evidence. A range of studies, webinars, and other activities at the National Academies have explored this research, some of which are highlighted here.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

NIEHS WTP Essential and Returning Worker Online Training Course Now Available

As workplaces reopen, workers and employers are safeguarding against COVID-19. Vivid Learning Systems designed an online version of the NIEHS WTP Essential and Returning Worker Training course, which is now available from Vivid Learning Systems. This training includes an Introduction and modules on Assessing Exposure Risk to SARS CoV-2, Workplace Exposure Prevention, Cleaning and Disinfections, and Resilience. Access to this course is free of charge.

Vivid Learning System LMS

Job OpeningsBack to Top

OAI Seeks EHS Training Supervisor

OAI, Inc. is hiring an environmental health and safety (EHS) training supervisor. The position works with EHS training programs that address the health and safety training needs of diverse, under-represented, multi-cultural workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

Job Posting

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