June 5, 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.
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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
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WTP Workshop Report Now Available
A report summarizing key themes and takeaways from the spring 2020 workshop, “Protecting Infectious Disease Responders During the COVID-19 Outbreak,” is now available on the workshop webpage. The report describes WTP’s quick activation and timely response to previous infectious disease outbreaks and public health disasters, along with the current COVID-19 pandemic. It also describes topics related to preparedness and considerations for training to effectively manage COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
WTP Workshop Highlight Video Now Available
The March 17 Workshop on Protecting Infectious Disease Responders During the COVID-19 Outbreak, sponsored by Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, in conjunction with the NIEHS WTP, has been condensed into a 12-minute highlight video.
States Brace for Disasters as Pandemic Collides with Hurricane Season
States and cities have never had to respond to a large-scale natural disaster during a global pandemic. The usual support network from neighboring states is frayed because nearly everyone is trying to contain COVID-19. And with the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the National Guard already consumed with supporting the public health response, strapped local officials are improvising as fast as they can.
Politico [Author: Dan Goldberg and Brianna Ehley]
Judge: Oil Spill Responses Should Consider Harm Caused By Chemical Dispersants Used During BP Spill
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update its oil spill response plans and potentially limit the use of the chemical dispersants that were heavily used during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
NOLA [Author: Tristan Baurick]
Flooding Disproportionately Harms Black Neighborhoods
When Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas in 2017, the neighborhood that suffered the worst flood damage was a section of southwest Houston where 49% of the residents are nonwhite. When Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana in 2005, the damage was the most extensive in the region's African American neighborhoods. Flooding in the U.S. disproportionately harms African American neighborhoods, an E&E News analysis of federal flood insurance payments shows.
E&E News [Author: Thomas Frank]
PFAS-Making Plant Was Not Inspected for Years, U.S. EPA Watchdog Says
For eight years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relied solely on company reports to verify that a North Carolina factory controlled releases of the flurochemical, GenX, the agency’s internal watchdog says in a report released May 28. The EPA and DuPont agreed in 2009 to the conditions for the company to make GenX, which the company used as a processing aid to produce fluoropolymers.
Additional DOE Sites Get Green Light to Start Getting Back to Work
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed that the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, as well as the cleanup vendor at the Nevada National Security Site, are gradually restarting operations scaled back two months ago to curb the spread of COVID-19 among workers. There have been 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections at the 16 nuclear remediation sites overseen by the DOE Office of Environmental Management.
Exchange Monitor [Author: Wayne Barber]
Worker Safety, Privacy Clash as Temperature Checks Become Norm
Employers are poised to collect health data from their workforces daily as they adopt temperature checks and other screening protocols to fight the coronavirus, triggering concerns about workers’ privacy and whether the practices will continue beyond the pandemic. The way these once-taboo screenings are administered is key for employers to avoid penalties under privacy and disability laws.
Bloomberg Law [Author: Erin Mulvaney]
What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State?
In April, New Orleans health officials realized their drive-through testing strategy for the coronavirus wasn't working. The reason? Census tract data revealed hot spots for the virus were located in predominantly low-income African-American neighborhoods where many residents lacked cars.
NPR [Author: Maria Godoy and Daniel Wood]
Questions and Anxiety Mount Over COVID-19 Workplace Safety as More Businesses Reopen
Workers across the Ohio Valley face difficult choices now that states are gradually reopening workplaces. Many don’t feel safe going back to work and adding to the anxiety is the uncertainty about the enforcement of safety standards for businesses that are reopening. During pointed questioning at a Congressional hearing a top official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was not able to say how many workplaces are seeing cases of COVID-19.
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Advancing Racial Equity Webinar Series
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is hosting this four-part webinar series to give an in-depth look at racism as a driving force of the social determinants of health and equity. The series will explore efforts to address systems, policies and practices designed to limit and shape opportunities for people of color. The webinar will be held on June 9 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET.
National Tribal Toxics Council Technical Support Request for Applications
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) is announcing a five year assistance agreement to eligible applicants to provide technical support to OPPT's National Tribal Toxics Council (NTTC) in order to represent tribal interests in the development and implementation of chemical risk assessment, risk management and pollution prevention programs. Applications are due on June 15.
Safety 2020 Is Now Virtual
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) presents Safety 2020: Virtual. Now more than ever, safety professionals need access to the valuable training, networking, knowledge and skills that Safety 2020 provides. ASSP has a long-standing reputation of delivering top-quality occupational safety and health education that members can immediately put into practice. The event will be held June 23-25.
EPA Environmental Justice Grants Opportunity to Address COVID-19 Impacts Faced by Vulnerable Communities
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $1 million in grant funding available to states, local governments, tribes, and territories for projects to improve the health and welfare of low income, minority, tribal and indigenous communities. EPA will give special consideration to those applications aimed at addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic communities with EJ concerns. The deadline to apply is June 30.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of $11.5 Million In Worker Safety and Health Training Grants
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the availability of $11.5 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes, and colleges and universities. The deadline to apply is July 20.
Superfund Research Program Occupational Health and Safety Education Programs on Emerging Technologies
The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH. The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. The deadline to apply is Aug. 3 by 5:00 p.m. local time.
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. Manuscripts can be submitted immediately and for the foreseeable future. Accepted papers will be published as quickly as possible.
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Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic May 21 Public Virtual Symposium Online Recording
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), established the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic in 2018 as a two-year, public-private partnership to foster greater coordination and collective action across the health system and beyond in addressing the opioid addiction crisis. Participants learned about opportunities to achieve a health system that is better prepared to prevent, treat, and manage substance use disorders.
New Ebola Outbreak in Congo, Already Hit by Measles and Coronavirus
Five people have died in Mbandaka, a western city more than 750 miles away from another Ebola outbreak in the country. It is unclear how the disease emerged in the city during lockdown. Less than two months ago, Congo was about to declare an official end to an Ebola epidemic on the eastern side of the country that had lasted nearly two years and killed more than 2,275 people.
New York Times [Author: Ruth Maclean]
“Waking Up to Wildfires” Nets Regional Emmy Nod
The NIEHS-funded documentary “Waking Up to Wildfires,” commissioned by the University of California, Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC), was nominated May 6 for a regional Emmy award. The film, made by the center’s science writer and video producer Jennifer Biddle and filmmaker Paige Bierma, shows survivors, first responders, researchers, and others grappling with the aftermath of the 2017 Northern California wildfires.
Environment Factor [Author: Kelly Lenox]
Climate and Health Featured in New Seminar Series
On May 6, NIEHS Senior Advisor for Public Health John Balbus, M.D., kick-started a new seminar series on climate, environment, and health, which is sponsored by the Global Environmental Health program. Balbus described the many ways in which a changing climate affects human health.
Environment Factor [Author: Payel Sil]
Recognizing and Mitigating Static Electricity Hazards
Static electricity is sometimes little more than a nuisance that causes clothing to unattractively cling in all the wrong places. But it can be much more detrimental. In fact, fire departments respond to nearly 280 industrial incidents involving static electricity each year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).
COVID-19 Shines Light on Navajo Water Contamination
The COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the effects of long-standing environmental health problems in the Navajo Nation, which is the largest American Indian reservation, say three NIEHS grant recipients who work closely with the tribe. The territory spans parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, and is larger than West Virginia and nine other states. About 170,000 people live there.
Environment Factor [Author: Jesse Saffron]
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Residential Soil Cleanup Resumes at Old American Zinc Plant Superfund Site
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that cleanup of residential properties has resumed at the Old American Zinc Plant Superfund Site in Fairmont City, Illinois. Located at 2575 Kings Highway, the site is a former zinc smelting facility that discontinued operations in 1967.
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New Data Bulletin Examines the Coronavirus and Health Disparities Among Construction Workers
The new issue of the Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Data Bulletin provides updated employment and health information on construction workers and risk estimates in the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings show that nearly 60% of the construction labor force has at least one factor (old age, underlying medical conditions, smoking, e-cigarette use, or severe obesity) for potentially higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, similar to the working population in general.
The Dangers of Dropped Objects
In 2017, 278 fatalities occurred from being “struck by falling objects” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a Safety Manager, The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) 121-2018 helps you better protect your workers.
Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Ann Osbourne]
The Disaster Worker Resiliency Training Program: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Disaster workers are at elevated risk for mental health problems as a result of trauma exposures during response efforts. A new study published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health evaluates the efficacy of a resilience building workshop, the Disaster Worker Resiliency Training Program, in disaster workers previously exposed to Hurricane Sandy.
Protecting California Workers from Wildfire Smoke Webinar Recording
California has experienced deadly and destructive fire seasons that are predicted to become more frequent. As a result, many workers are impacted by unhealthy air quality, including farm workers and school employees. California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) developed an emergency standard on wildfire smoke in 2019. This webinar from the University of California (UC) Berkeley explored the standard’s requirements, reviewed how it applies in agricultural and school settings, and recommendations for preparing worksites for future wildfire seasons.
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OSHA Seeks Supervisory Safety and Occupational Health Specialist
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hiring a Supervisory Safety and Occupational Health Specialist. The specialist will lead and supervise a team of safety, data, and jurisdiction professionals and serve on multiple project teams comprising OSHA staff, solicitors, private sector stakeholders, and other agency representatives. The deadline to apply is June 9.
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