June 21, 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.
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Worker Training Program Supplements
The Worker Training Program 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.
Americans Are Paying More Than Ever to Store Deadly Nuclear Waste
The Maine Yankee nuclear power plant hasn’t produced a single watt of energy in more than two decades, but it cost U.S. taxpayers about $35 million this year. Almost 40 years after Congress decided the United States, and not private companies, would be responsible for storing radioactive waste, the cost of that effort has grown to $7.5 billion, and it’s about to get even pricier. With no place of its own to keep the waste, the government now says it expects to pay $35.5 billion to private companies as more and more nuclear plants shut down, unable to compete with cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources. Storing spent fuel at an operating plant with staff and technology on hand can cost $300,000 a year. The price for a closed facility: more than $8 million, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Los Angeles Times [Author: Will Wade]
California Attorney General Announces $11 Million Settlement With AutoZone
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday, June 18, an $11 million settlement with AutoZone Inc. over allegations that the retailer violated state laws governing hazardous waste, hazardous materials and confidential consumer information. The lawsuit -- filed against the 600-store auto parts chain by the Attorney General's Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and the district attorneys of 10 California counties, including San Diego and Riverside -- stemmed from 56 inspections of trash bins at 49 AutoZone facilities between August 2013 and September 2015.
After Another Fire, Allegheny County Issues Emergency Order for US Steel’s Clairton Plant
The Allegheny County Health Department has issued an emergency order for U.S. Steel to comply with air pollution regulations at its Clairton plant or stop making coke there, after a fire at the plant early Monday, June 18, knocked out its air pollution controls for the second time in six months. U.S. Steel said it had restored the pollution controls at the plant, where “normal operations have resumed.” The county issued the order. It gives U.S. Steel 24 hours to come up with a plan to control its emissions of two pollutants: sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The plant has 20 days to implement that plan. If it fails to meet the county’s timeline, the plant will have to “immediately cease all coke-making operations,” the county’s order states.
Fire Marshal Issues Warning on Pool Chemical Storage
Summer weather has finally arrived, and many homeowners are getting their pools ready. State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey wants pool owners to take a moment to double check that pool chemicals are stored safely. “Pool chemicals may become a hazard when they get damp or wet with a small quantity of water," Ostroskey said. "Or when they are improperly mixed with each other, other chemicals, or reactive materials.” He said it is important to keep pool chemicals dry, store them in separate containers with lids in a locked shed away from the house and pool. Local fire departments and hazardous materials teams often respond to emergencies involving swimming pool and hot tub/whirlpool chemicals.
Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste Is an Obvious Task for Robots
Some people worry about robots taking work away from human beings, but there are a few jobs that even these sceptics admit most folk would not want. One is cleaning up radioactive waste, particularly when it is inside a nuclear power station—and especially if the power station in question has suffered a recent accident. Those who do handle radioactive material must first don protective suits that are inherently cumbersome and are further encumbered by the air hoses needed to allow the wearer to breathe. Even then their working hours are strictly limited, in order to avoid prolonged exposure to radiation and because operating in the suits is exhausting. Moreover, some sorts of waste are too hazardous for even the besuited to approach safely.
Safety Watchdog Stops Including Names Of Dead Workers In Its Investigative Reports
This week, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released a 158-page report on the fatal gas well blowout at the Pryor Trust well in Oklahoma in January 2018. The thorough investigation includes just about everything readers want to know about why the blast happened and how five men ended up dead. There was just one thing missing: the names of those men. The omission didn’t slip past Tonya Ford, the director of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, which assists and advocates for people whose loved ones died on the job.
Huffington Post [Author: Dave Jamieson]
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NIEHS Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series: The Los Angeles PRISMS BREATHE Kit
The Los Angeles Pediatric Research Using Integrated Sensor Monitoring Systems (PRISMS) Center present preliminary findings from their pilot and ongoing panel study. They developed the BREATHE Kit (Biomedical REAl-Time Health Evaluation Kit) as a non-invasive, secure end-to-end informatics platform that utilizes the latest in mHealth technologies to advance environmental health studies of pediatric asthma. The platform is based on a smartwatch/smartphone that securely and wirelessly communicates in real time with a suite of personal air pollution (particulate matter less than 2.5µm, PM2.5), geolocation, physiological (peak flow meter) and health sensors (e.g., Bluetooth-enabled inhalers) and collects self-report symptoms and contextual data using ecological momentary assessment. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. ET.
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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US Poised to Approve Shipping LNG by Rail for Export With No New Safety Rules
On June 6, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced that the company Energy Transport Solutions LLC had applied for a special permit to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in unit trains 100 cars long and for the express purpose of moving LNG to export facilities. The notice in the Federal Register starts a comment period, ending July 8, for the public to weigh in on the proposal, which represents a new mode for transporting LNG and includes no new safety precautions. The permit documentation and environmental assessment from PHMSA suggest that federal regulators are poised to allow the fossil fuel and rail industries to repeat the same business model with LNG, with potentially even higher consequences for public health and safety.
Desmog [Author: Justin Mikulka]
Americans Concerned About Healthcare Worker Burnout
The issue of healthcare professional burnout is a major concern for 74% of Americans, according to a new survey released Wednesday, June 19, by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The survey was conducted online in May by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASHP, polling 2,000 U.S. adults. It follows a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy that found 53% of pharmacists reported a high degree of burnout caused by increased stress and job demands. In addition, a Mayo Clinic study found that burnout costs the U.S. healthcare system approximately $4.6 billion per year.
New Report Examines Federal Management Practices of Toxic Oil and Gas Waste Across US
Waste is frequently transported across borders of these and other states, creating a complex web of waste management. A new Earthworks report examines how oil and gas field waste has been tracked, regulated, and treated across the nation. The report builds on their 2015 study that details where and how policies have changed since 2015 and provides recommendations to states and the federal government to reduce the environmental harm that results from toxic waste. Still Wasting Away includes in-depth analysis of nine oil and gas producing states, each with a report of their own: California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.
New Bosses Take Over at DOE Nuclear Cleanup Office
William “Ike” White will begin managing the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) effective Monday, June 17. White for now is taking the title of senior adviser at EM, following the resignation of Anne Marie White about 15 months into her tenure as assistant energy secretary for environmental management. Ike White could eventually be named acting assistant secretary, but that could not happen before Anne White’s resignation becomes official, sources noted this week. Ike White is an old hand around the government nuclear complex, holding management posts at the semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, according to his federal biography.
Amazon Disaster Response Team Aids Recovery Efforts From Houston to Indonesia
After 2017’s devastating Northern California wildfires, the Red Cross sought sifters — the kind sometimes used to pan for gold — to help people search for valuables in the ashes of their homes. Members of Amazon’s new disaster response team found the items in the commerce giant’s vast inventory and expedited shipment. The cost of floods, hurricanes and earthquakes increased some 600% between 1990 and 2015 by one estimate, and disaster response planners only see the pace accelerating with more frequent, severe and chaotic weather events driven by a warming climate. The resulting demand for disaster relief and recovery is growing, and corporations are playing a greater role with both financial and material support.
Seattle Times [Author: Benjamin Romano]
‘Promote Safe and Healthful Workplaces in the Legislative Branch’: OCWR Releases Strategic Plan
Focusing on the safety and health of legislative branch workers is among the goals listed in the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights’ (OCWR) 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, released June 5. OCWR, formerly known as the Office of Compliance, enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in much of the same way the secretary of labor enforces the act on the private sector. OCWR will “promote safe and healthful workplaces in the legislative branch and fully accessible facilities for congressional constituents and visitors,” the document states. To start, the office will conduct occupational safety and health inspections of all member offices on Capitol Hill.
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CASPER Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response Toolkit 3.0
The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) is an epidemiologic technique designed to provide quickly and at low-cost household-based information about a community. The Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice (DEHSP), Health Studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed the CASPER toolkit to assist personnel from any local, state, regional, or federal office in conducting a rapid needs assessment to determine the health status, basic needs, or knowledge, attitudes, and practices of a community in a quick and low-cost manner. Gathering health and basic needs information using valid statistical methods allows public health and emergency managers to make informed decisions. The CASPER toolkit provides guidelines on data collection tool development, methodology, sample selection, training, data collection, analysis, and report writing.
NIOSH Responds to the Opioid Crisis: Vital Information for Workers and Employers
Workers’ compensation systems were established to provide partial medical care and income protection to employees who are injured or become ill from their job. These systems may also provide incentives to employers to reduce work-related injury and illness. A majority of employers buy workers’ compensation insurance coverage through private insurers or state-certified compensation insurance funds. Larger employers may also have the option to self-insure. These systems are complex and governed by state laws. Workers’ compensation claims data can be used to estimate the numbers of work-related injuries and illnesses by cause, industry, and occupation.
PrepTalk Released: Claudine Jaenichen’s “Visual + Effective Communication for Emergency Information”
FEMA and its emergency management partners released Claudine Jaenichen’s “Visual + Effective Communication for Emergency Information” today, June 18. In her PrepTalk, Jaenichen explores the cognitive biases that impede our ability to make the right decision when confronted with an emergency and designs visual information that helps more people recall safe routes during an evacuation. PrepTalks are a partnership between FEMA, the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Homeland Security Consortium, and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
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New CPWR Report: Ergonomic Back Injury Risk Factors in Construction Glass and Glazing Work
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released a new report this month, June 2019. Construction glass and glazing (CGG) workers have high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs). For this study, the researchers conducted interviews with CGG workers and worksite observations to identify problems leading to the higher rates of WRMSDs and to gather information about improvements that are needed to lower the risk for injury. CGG job tasks were classified in five categories, and ergonomic task-based estimates were done using the Posture, Activity, Tools, and Handling method. The CGG workers’ level of risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries was scaled using the Rapid Entire Body Assessment method. The results of this study provided a baseline database for future evaluations of ergonomic interventions to reduce CGG workers’ risk for injury.
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AFL-CIO Seeks Safety and Health Specialists
The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) advocates and works for stronger worker safety and health protections and worker rights primarily through federal and state regulatory and legislative activities. The federation plays a leadership role in the safety and health community in the development of safety and health policies and initiatives. The Safety and Health Specialist works closely with the Safety and Health Director to assist with the development of positions on proposed regulations and legislation, and assists with the preparation of position papers, comments and testimony. The Safety and Health specialist conducts research on and writes reports on safety and health issues, assists with the preparation of the annual Workers Memorial Day observance and upon request participates in union safety and health training and education workshops and conferences.
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