June 28, 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.
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Ten Students Treated for Exposure to Chemical Spill at Clark Atlanta University
At least 10 students were treated for exposure to hazardous chemicals after a spill at Clark Atlanta University on Friday, June 21. Channel 2 Action News has learned that the spill happened in the Thomas Cole Research Center. Investigators initially said two students were injured but later said at least 10 people had to be quarantined and treated for complaints related to the spill. Hazmat crews were still working to decontaminate the building by the afternoon. School officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that three buildings were evacuated and closed for the day.
Last Fire Extinguished at South Philly Refinery, Air Quality Testing Continues
The last small fire was extinguished Saturday, June 22, at the South Philadelphia refinery where a series of house-rattling explosions rattled the city Friday, June 21. Officials said the gas valve that had been fueling the blaze was shut off and the tank involved in the explosion was isolated. The Philadelphia Fire Department's hazmat unit and the Department of Public Health will continue to test the air for any hazards. So far, they have not found anything unsafe, officials said. Efforts to ease concerns in neighboring communities have not provided much comfort to residents who wonder what is in the thick, black smoke they watched rise into the air in the morning at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery.
Workplace Fatigue May Be More Dangerous Than You Think
Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik joined with state and national safety experts to highlight the serious dangers posed by fatigue in the workplace, a growing problem and a focus of National Safety Month. Studies indicate 13% of workplace injuries are attributed to fatigue and 43% of American workers say they sometimes are too tired to function safely at their job. Fatigue is estimated to cost employers more than $136 billion annually in health-related lost productivity. It can also be deadly.
WBBM [Author: Jim Gudas]
Dow Silicones Settles Over Pollution Emissions
A Dow Inc. subsidiary has settled with the U.S. Justice Department over allegations that it failed to report and manage properly the discharge of hazardous chemicals. The agreement resolves alleged environmental violations at Dow Silicones Corp.'s chemical manufacturing facility in Midland, where the chemical company is based, the Justice Department said Tuesday, June 25, in a statement. Dow will pay a penalty of $4.55 million, implement a series of measures to reduce pollutant emissions and support other environmental projects in the community.
Detroit News [Author: Breana Noble]
Smoke From U.S. Wildfires Boosting Health Risk for Millions
Climate change in the western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths. That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to prepare for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions.
AP News [Author: Matthew Brown]
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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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Building Chemical Safety Partnerships
The American Chemical Society (ACS) Strategic Plan recognizes safety as a core value of the society. To live out this value, in 2018 and 2019, the Committee on Chemical Safety planned and held strategic ACS Safety Summits to explore the opportunities and challenges this value presents. Previous Chemical & Engineering News comments by ACS immediate past president Peter Dorhout and ACS president Bonnie Charpentier have reported on the outcomes of these summits. One of these outcomes has been the recognition that chemical safety presents a valuable opportunity for educating chemists, not only in technical skills related to prudent laboratory practices but also in professional skills such as critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and scientific communication.
Potential Impact of 2020 U.S. Decennial Census Data Collection on Disaster Preparedness and Population Mental Health
Increasing in frequency and impact in the United States and worldwide, disasters can lead to serious mental health consequences. Although U.S. census data are essential for disaster preparedness and the identification of community-level risk factors for adverse post-disaster mental health outcomes, the U.S. Census Bureau faces many challenges as we approach 2020 Decennial Census data collection. Despite the utility of the information provided by the Census and American Community Survey (ACS), the 2020 U.S. Census and subsequent ACS data face threats to validity.
Law Enforcement Officers’ Health Effects from Exposure to Opioids: Two Case Investigations
There is uncertainty surrounding law enforcement officers’ exposure to and health effects from opioids encountered while at work protecting the public. Over the past several years, the media have reported instances of opioid exposures and health effects among first responders and other public service workers across the U.S. These reports provide incomplete or uncorroborated information about incidents involving work‐related exposures to drugs among responders. An article from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers entitled “Health effects from unintentional occupational exposure to opioids among law enforcement officers: Two case investigations” published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine seeks to characterize the risk associated with unintentional occupational exposure to drugs. The article summarizes two NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations, discusses prevention of occupational exposure to fentanyl and its analogues, and emphasizes the need to protect responders while research continues.
CDC’s NIOSH Blog [Author: Sophia K. Chiu]
OSHA Should Extend PSM Standard to Onshore Drilling, CSB Says in New Report
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should apply its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard to the drilling of onshore oil and gas wells, or – if not – customize it to oil and gas drilling operations or develop a new standard, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recommends in its final report on a deadly January 2018 gas well blowout and rig fire in Oklahoma. The recommendation is among 19 made by CSB in the 158-page report, released June 12 and directed at OSHA, the American Petroleum Institute, the state of Oklahoma, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, two drilling companies involved in overseeing the site and drilling product designers.
Regulators Resist Call For Action In Response To Black Lung Epidemic
The nation's top coal mine safety regulator told members of Congress Thursday that existing safety regulations are sufficient to protect miners from toxic dust, despite calls for change amid an epidemic of advanced black lung disease among coal miners in Appalachia. Assistant Secretary of Labor David Zatezalo, testifying before the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, said sampling from coal mines shows a 99% compliance rate with rules designed to limit workers' exposure to silica, the dust blamed for the disease outbreak. But a pulmonologist who has spent decades studying the disease countered with the results of new studies suggesting the epidemic is not subsiding.
NPR [Authors: Howard Berkes and Huo Jingnan]
Air Quality Committee Rejects Ban on Toxic Acid Used in South Bay Refineries
Air quality officials on Saturday, June 22, moved to close the door on a ban of a dangerous acid used at two South Bay oil refineries that community groups have sought since a 2015 explosion raised concerns about the potential for a catastrophic release. The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s refinery committee voted 3-2 to support an industry-backed alternative. The plan directs agency staff to develop agreements with refineries in Torrance and Wilmington that would allow them to keep using modified hydrofluoric acid, with enhanced safety measures. The highly toxic chemical, used to make high-octane gasoline, can form a deadly, ground-hugging cloud that could drift into surrounding communities and cause mass casualties in the event of a major leak.
Los Angeles Times [Author: Tony Barboza]
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HUD Releases 2019 Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program NOFA - $324 Million in Funding Available
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard and Healthy Homes has released the 2019 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The NOFA makes an unprecedented $324 million in lead grant and Healthy Homes Supplemental grant funding available for state, county and city jurisdictions.
CSB Releases Final Report into Fatal 2014 Incident at DuPont La Porte Facility; Final Report Cites Numerous Safety Deficiencies
On June 25, at a public business meeting, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation report into the November 15, 2014, methyl mercaptan release at the DuPont Plant in La Porte, TX, that killed four workers. The report includes key lessons related to emergency planning and response, process safety management systems, and process safety culture. Interim Executive Dr. Kristen Kulinowski said, “Our investigation revealed a long chain of failures which resulted in this fatal event, including deferring much needed process improvements; improvements that could have prevented the toxic release.
FEMA Has Made Progress, but Challenges and Future Risks Highlight Imperative for Further Improvements
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that federal and local efforts to improve resilience can reduce the effects and costs of future disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made progress in this area, but in July 2015, GAO found that states and localities faced challenges using federal funds to maximize resilient rebuilding following a disaster. GAO recommended that the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group—an interagency body chaired by FEMA—create a national strategy to better plan for and invest in disaster resilience. FEMA is working to address this recommendation and plans to publish the strategy by July 2019.
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DOL, OSHA Announce Members of Soon-to-Meet Construction Advisory Committee
The Department of Labor (DOL) named the 15 members of its Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) in a June 17 Federal Register notice, adding that ACCSH will meet July 17-18 in the nation’s capital. The committee advises DOL and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on upcoming standards affecting the construction industry and “the administration of safety and health provisions” in the Construction Safety Act.
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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.
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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