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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: July 2, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, July 2, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

July 2, 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.

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

Workers Are More Likely to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine When Their Employers Encourage It and Provide Paid Sick Leave, Though Most Workers Don’t Want Their Employers to Require It

As more employers return to in-person work, the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor report shows that workers are more likely to have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine when their employer encourages it or provides paid sick leave to get the vaccine and recover from side effects.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Upgrading PPE for Staff Working on COVID-19 Wards Cut Hospital-Acquired Infections Dramatically

When Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge upgraded its face masks for staff working on COVID-19 wards to filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirators, it saw a dramatic fall – up to 100% – in hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections among these staff.

University of Cambridge

Delta COVID-19 Variant May Be Edging Race Against Vaccines

The transmission advantage of the Delta variant that is spreading at pace globally is a sign that the race between vaccination and the virus could tip in favor of the latter unless countries ramp up their immunization campaigns and practice caution, scientists say.

The Guardian [Author: Natalie Grover]

Sticking to Sharps Safety

When a public health emergency strikes, such as COVID-19, it illuminates the many risks and hazards in healthcare devices, environments, and practices. It also shines a light on the fortitude of hospital and other healthcare staff continuing to persevere in caring for communities through the many ups and downs of this pandemic.

Healthcare Purchasing News [Author: Ebony Smith]

More Than Half of U.S. Buildings Are in Places Prone to Disaster, Study Finds

More than half of the buildings in the contiguous U.S. are in disaster hotspots, a new study finds. Tens of millions of homes, businesses and other buildings are concentrated in areas with the most risk from hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes.

WXXI [Author: Rebecca Hersher]

Study Links More Asthma Cases to 2018 Clairton Coke Works Fire

Mon Valley residents with asthma had trouble catching a breath as a direct result of the massive 2018 Christmas Eve fire that knocked out pollution controls at U.S. Steel Corp.’s Clairton Coke Works, according to a new study.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Author: Don Hopey]

Miami Condo Collapse Shows How the U.S. Keeps Getting Disaster Response Wrong

Already experts are arguing about who should have done what regarding the apparent failure of the complex’s structural integrity. But a second fight is brewing about who should have called whom when. And unlike the engineering of a single building, this controversy is relevant for all search-and-rescue missions for major American disasters.

NBC News [Author: Rebecca Shimoni-Stoil]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

COVID-19 Research: Electrostatic Sprayers for Disinfectant Application

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development hosts the Emergency Response Research Webinar Series to share current research activities and results. This webinar series covers the latest information on research supporting EPA's response to chemical, biological, and radiological incidents, as well as natural disasters. The next webinar on electrostatic sprayers will be held on July 15.

Webinar Series Information

Update on OSHA Guidance for Workers Not Covered by the COVID-19 ETS

On June 10, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its guidance to help employers and workers not covered by the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) identify COVID-19 exposure risks and take appropriate steps to prevent exposure and infection. The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is hosting a webinar on July 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss OSHA’s guidance.

Webinar Registration

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of More Than $21M in Grants for Training on Workplace Hazards, Infectious Diseases

The U.S. Department of Labor announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants for non-profit organizations. The first availability will provide $10 million under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021for Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the Coronavirus grants. Applications are due July 19.

Application Information

2021 National Cleanup Workshop

The National Cleanup Workshop is hosted by the Energy Communities Alliance with the cooperation of the Energy Facility Contractors Group and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM). The 2021 workshop will be held on Sept. 8-10. The workshop will bring together senior DOE executives and site officials, industry executives, and other stakeholders to discuss EM’s progress on the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation’s Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons program.

Meeting Registration

Brownfields 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA are committed to ensuring the National Brownfields Training Conference provides the best networking and learning environment possible for the Brownfields community. Several considerations were made related to the current, and anticipated, COVID-19 situation. The event has been rescheduled from its September dates to December 8-11, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

New Report Calls for ASPR Reforms, Greater Interagency Coordination

A new policy brief released this week by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr assessed the role of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) during the COVID-19 pandemic and concluded that reforms are necessary both within the agency and beyond to improve federal pandemic response.

Homeland Preparedness News

The People vs. Agent Orange Exposes a Mass Poisoning in Plain Sight

In 1971, the military had halted the use of the chemical in reaction to growing public health concerns, yet now, just a few years later, a government agency was deploying a similar cocktail domestically. Carol Van Strum co-founded an activist group, Citizens Against Toxic Sprays, which undertook a community-wide public health survey and, in 1977, secured a temporary injunction against the use of agent orange. The group also forged bonds with other affected communities, including a town in Idaho where herbicide workers were suffering strange ailments.

New Republic [Author: Jasper Craven]

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation

Despite the stunning beauty of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the land is marred by a toxic history: a “horrible legacy” of uranium mining and processing that began in 1944. Navajo uranium miners have died of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. They weren’t told of the risks, and they want compensation for radiation exposure.

Inside Climate News [Author: Cheyanne M. Daniels]

Air Pollution’s Invisible Toll on Your Health

President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan calling for huge investments in clean energy, public transportation and electric vehicles would do a lot more than slow the rate of devastating climate change. It would also protect the health of every American, especially young children and older adults, by reducing the harmful effects of the invisible air pollutants inhaled year after year.

New York Times [Author: Jane E. Brody]

NM Governor Files Petition to Classify PFAS as Hazardous Waste

The New Mexico governor’s office is petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to classify the chemical, PFAS, as hazardous. New Mexico's Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases used firefighting foam that contained PFAS, which then contaminated water.

KRQE

EPA Researchers are Providing Tools and Resources to Prepare Communities for Climate Change and Extreme Storms

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists are investigating the increased occurrence and intensity of extreme precipitation events. Many parts of the country have experienced these changes already with storms that bring high accumulations of rain or snow, resulting in flooding and threats to public health and property.

EPA Science Matters

Science and Social Justice in the San Juan Bay Estuary

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers are trying to understand how San Juan Bay Estuary and its residents are impacted by the closure of the Caño Martín Peña, a tidal channel, and are working with local partners to ensure the health, safety and well-being of communities in Puerto Rico.

EPA Science Matters

OMB’s Miller Hopes Fed Telework Expansion Will Attract More Talent

Jason Miller, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said he hopes the government’s expansion of telework for Federal employees will serve as a “leapfrog moment” and help the government to better compete in the battle for talent.

Meri Talk [Author: Grace Dille]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Announces $50 Million to Fund Environmental Justice Initiatives Under the American Rescue Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will provide $50 million dollars for Environmental Justice initiatives through funds allocated to EPA under the American Rescue Plan. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress designated this funding for grants, contracts, and other agency activities that identify and address disproportionate environmental or public health harms and risks in underserved communities.

EPA

Needs and Challenges in PPE Use for Underserved User Populations

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests information on the needs and challenges in personal protective equipment (PPE) use for underserved user populations. The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory is expanding its portfolio to include activities that consider the needs of U.S. worker populations who are underserved related to PPE use, availability, accessibility, acceptability, or knowledge. Comments must be submitted by Aug. 23.

Federal Register

FEMA Seeking Public Comment on Climate Change and Underserved Communities and Populations

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is issuing this Request for Information to receive input from the public on specific FEMA programs, regulations, collections of information, and policies for the agency to consider modifying, streamlining, expanding, or repealing in light of recent Executive orders. Written comments are requested on or before June 21. Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

Federal Register

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Confronts Institutional Racism with Recommendations

A consequential report from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) sets out important and comprehensive recommendations that, if enacted, would put environmental justice on the front burner of national policy. The report spells out a multitude of challenges, and recommendations for addressing them, in service of advancing environmental justice (EJ) across federal agencies.

Beyond Pesticides

FDA In Brief: FDA Revokes Emergency Use Authorizations for Certain Respirators and Decontamination Systems as Access to N95s Increases Nationwide

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is revoking emergency use authorizations (EUAs) of all non-NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health)-approved disposable respirators, which includes imported disposable respirators such as KN95s, along with revoking EUAs for decontamination and bioburden reduction systems.

FDA

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

I Wrote About This Environmental Injustice Decades Ago. It Hasn’t Changed.

A majority of people who live in the Texas coastal communities of Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Port Arthur are brown and Black. These communities are also locations for proposed terminals to load liquefied natural gas on tankers bound for overseas markets.

New York Times [Author: Robert Bullard]

Former OSHA Head David Michaels Calls for Transformation of U.S. Worker Safety

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) —the first federal agency created solely to protect America’s workers—opened its doors. Part of the Department of Labor, OSHA changed the landscape of worker health and safety in the US. It is credited with cutting on-the-job deaths per day from 38 in 1970 to 14 today, despite today’s much larger workforce.

Chemical and Engineering News

WTP Spring Workshop “Using Best Practices to Sustain Training Programs During COVID-19 and Other Disasters” Recordings Available

The WTP Spring Workshop, held virtually on April 20-22, 2021, brought awardees together to provide program updates, exchange information regarding training, and discover new areas of interest to awardees. The workshop reviewed the best practices of WTP, awardees, and partnering organizations to sustain training programs during COVID-19 and other disaster preparedness and response efforts. All webinar recordings are now available.

WTP

OSHA Heat Planning and Supervision

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed tools that can protect workers in high temperatures. Heat-related illness can affect workers in many industries, at indoor or outdoor worksites. Employers should create a written plan to prevent heat-related illness.

OSHA Heat

Job OpeningsBack to Top

National COSH Seeks Worker and Network Organizer

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) is seeking a Worker and Network Organizer to contribute to its mission of ensuring safe, healthy working conditions for all workers. The Worker and Network Organizer works both independently and as part of a team to support a network of worker leaders through outreach, organizing, technical assistance, program development, and engagement. The deadline to apply is July 16.

Job Posting

National COSH Seeks Communications Coordinator

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) is seeking a bilingual Communications Coordinator to contribute to its mission of ensuring safe, healthy working conditions for all workers. The position will coordinate communications efforts in English and Spanish including social media, promotion of events, media relations, and support the organization to maintain the highest quality communication practices. The deadline to apply is July 16.

Job Posting

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