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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: June 18, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, June 18, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

June 18, 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

13 Refineries Emit Dangerous Benzene Emissions That Exceed the EPA’s ‘Action Level,’ a Study Finds

A predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood, Hillcrest in Corpus Christi, Texas, is dwarfed by a 15-mile industrial expanse known as Refinery Row on one side and oil tanks on another. CITGO’s Corpus Christi East Refinery is among 13 refineries that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “action level” for average annual benzene emissions in 2020, an April study by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project said.

Inside Climate News [Author: Aman Azhar]

Chemtool, Rockton, IL, Explosion and Fire

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is monitoring an explosion and fire event at the Chemtool plant in Rockton, Illinois, that occurred June 14, 2021, at 7:15 a.m. CT. All 70 workers in the facility were evacuated without injury. One fire fighter suffered a minor injury and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. The facility manufactures petroleum-based lubricants.

CSB News Release

Associated Press Update

Gov. Newsom Says Vaccinated California Workers Won't Have to Wear Masks After June 17

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says workers will soon be able to stop wearing masks. Newsom said the state will, "be consistent with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) guidelines." Those guidelines would allow vaccinated workers to stop wearing masks and would end social distancing. Those not vaccinated will still have to wear masks when working indoors or in vehicles.


New York Governor Signs Infectious Disease Worker Safety Bill

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that requires the state to create model standards for prevention of occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease. The bill calls on a model workplace safety standard to “explicitly specify and distinguish the extent to which the provisions are applicable for different levels of airborne infectious disease exposure.”

Business Insider [Author: Louise Esola]

As the Climate Emergency Grows, Farmworkers Lack Protection from Deadly Heat

Published by Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, “Essentially Unprotected” documents farmworkers’ dire lack of critical labor protections from extreme heat and pesticide exposure. A timely examination of the laws in 13 agricultural states and federal regulations, the report reveals dangerous oversights in the laws protecting farmworkers’ health.

Civil Eats [Author: Greta Moran]

Essentially Unprotected Report

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

SRP Risk Communication Strategies to Reduce Exposures and Improve Health

This virtual workshop on June 21-22, sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), will bring together SRP grantees, partners, and colleagues to discuss strategies to communicate potential health risks with the goals of preventing and reducing exposures, and improving health.

Meeting Information

U.S. Department of Labor schedules meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

The U.S. Department of Labor has scheduled a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health from 1:00-5:00 p.m., ET, June 22, via teleconference and WebEx. The meeting is open to the public.

Meeting Information

Changing the Blame Game: Moving from Burnout Shame to Moral Injury and Systemic Change

The American Public Health Association’s Pharmacy Section Task Force on System-mediated Medication Safety Issues and the Ethics, Occupational Health and Safety and Public Health Nursing Sections are co-sponsoring a webinar on the Moral Injury Program on June 23 at 9:00-10:00 a.m. ET. It will define moral injury and the factors driving its occurrence, describe the impact of moral injury on health professionals and their patients, and discuss the health care systemic change that needs to occur to address to prevent moral injury.

Meeting Link

Climate and Heat: Trends, Health Impacts and Risks

This webinar will highlight information on observed U.S. trends from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Change Indicators and future conditions based on EPA’s Climate Impacts and Risk Analysis efforts. The presentation will feature recent science on extreme heat and health impacts including from the U.S. Global Change Research Program and EPA research on climate vulnerability and heat islands. It will be held on June 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Heat-related Illness and Death in Construction

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is hosting a webinar on June 29 at 2:00 p.m. ET on heat-related illness and death in construction. Construction workers, who often work outdoors in direct sunlight or in hot, enclosed spaces, are at risk for heat-related illnesses and, in severe cases, death. In fact, construction workers make up about 6% of the total U.S. workforce, but from 1992 to 2016, they accounted for 36% of all occupational heat-related deaths.

Webinar Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Rehydrate, Rest, Repeat: Summer Safety Reminders for Outdoor Workers

During the warmest months of the year, many workers’ compensation claims stem from heat-related illnesses, which can occur due to a combination of metabolic heat, that is, heat created by the body, and environmental heat, which includes increased air temperature, humidity, radiant heat from sunlight or other heat sources such as furnaces and air movement.

Occupational Health and Safety Online [Author: Reed Erickson]

Hurricanes and Tropical Cyclones Associated with Increased Hospitalization Rates in Older Adults

Hospitalizations of older U.S. adults increased in the week following exposure to tropical cyclones, according to a new study funded by NIEHS. The researchers found nearly 17,000 additional hospitalizations were associated with tropical cyclone exposures over a 10-year average.

NIEHS Global Environmental Health Newsletter [Author: David Richards]

Following Up with Families from ‘Fractured,’ EHN’s Fracking Investigation in Western Pennsylvania

It's been three months since Environmental Health News (EHN) published Fractured, a groundbreaking investigation into the personal costs of fracking for western Pennsylvania families. The investigation looked at air samples, water samples, and urine samples, and found that five families who live near oil and gas wells are exposed to higher-than-average levels of a long list of toxic chemicals used by the industry.

Environmental Health News [Author: Kristina Marusic]

EHN Fractured

Commentary: For Many Kinds of Hazardous Waste, Combustion Still the Best Option

When I joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a staff engineer in the mid-1970s, the country was overrun with examples of poor waste management, presenting significant risks to human health and the environment. Love Canal, in Niagara County, was the most visible example of environmental degradation by industry, but it was by no means alone.

Albany Times Union [Author: James Berlow]

New Mapping Tool Aims to Clarify Virginia Environmental Justice Debates

Amid persistent conflicts over what communities should be considered “environmental justice” communities when state officials weigh whether to grant air, water or waste pollution permits, a new interactive map of Virginia aims to identify hotspots where residents are facing disproportionate pollution and socioeconomic burdens.

Virginia Mercury [Author: Sarah Vogelsong]

Rocky Mountains Are Burning More Now Than Ever, and It Could Get Worse

High up in the Rocky Mountains, forests are burning more frequently than any time in the past 2,000 years. The overarching reason: climate change. Warmer and drier climate conditions mean the vegetation is also drier, making it easier for fires that ignite to spread, as the saying goes, like wildfire.

Mongabay [Author: Liz Kimbrough]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

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 2021 for Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the Coronavirus grants. Applications are due July 19.

Department of Labor

BSEE Publishes Investigation Report of Deepwater Asgard Incident; Issues New Guidance to Operators for Added Safety

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement released the results of its investigation of the Oct. 28, 2020, incident when the Transocean Drillship Deepwater Asgard sustained major damage to various operational components while evacuating from an area impacted by Hurricane Zeta.

BSEE News Release

EPA Issues Notice of Final Denial of Rulemaking Petition

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responding to a rulemaking petition requesting revision of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrosivity hazardous waste characteristic regulation. The petition requests that EPA make two changes to the current corrosivity characteristic regulation. On June 8, EPA published a final denial of the rulemaking petition.

EPA Notice

OSHA Rule Requires Health Employers to Track Worker Virus Data

The new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 health-care standard sets recordkeeping requirements for employers to track infections among their workers and for when the government must be notified of a death or a hospitalization. The mandates detailed in the emergency temporary standard, released June 10, are separate from the OSHA’s longstanding requirement for employers to record in “Form 300" logs any injury or illness that was treated with more than first aid or that led to a worker missing more than a day of work.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Building Programs to Protect Workers from COVID-19 in the Workplace Resource Now Available in Spanish

WTP published the Building Programs to Protect Workers from COVID-19 in the Workplace resource now available in Spanish. The goal of the resource is to increase health and safety awareness for workers to prevent potential exposure to COVID-19.


USW: OSHA's New Emergency Temporary Standard a Huge Step for Worker Safety

The United Steelworkers (USW) union released the following statement after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for health care workers. The statement included, "The USW is glad that, after more than a year of advocacy and organizing, health care workers will finally have enforceable workplace protections against the spread of COVID-19 thanks to OSHA's new emergency temporary standard.”


Emergency, Disaster Preparedness Assistance Available in Six Languages

As we head further into wildfire season, the state of California has been preparing resources on emergency alerts in other languages to help non-English speakers get accurate information. Multilingual videos with emergency and disaster preparedness information in Korean, Vietnamese, Hmong, Tagalog, Hindi, and Chinese are now available statewide. It's part of the "Talks with Mom" campaign, which features conversations between family members around the issues of health and safety.

KCRA [Author: Maricela De La Cruz]

Selection and Use of Portable Air Cleaners to Protect Workers from Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 Fact Sheet Now Available

WTP released a new fact sheet on selection and use of portable air cleaners. The fact sheet provides guidance to help employers, building operators, and union officials select and use portable air cleaners to remove virus-contaminated air in indoor spaces.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

UT Dallas Seeks Assistant Director, Fire Prevention and Life Safety

The University of Texas (UT) at Dallas seeks an Assistant Director for the UT Dallas Fire Prevention and Life Safety Program. This position is responsible for proactively leading the Fire and Life Safety team and working collaboratively with campus partners to ensure campus compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code, NFPA Fire Code, International Building Code, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, and applicable state, local, and federal regulations.

Job Posting

Howard University Seeks Environmental Health and Safety Specialist

Howard University seeks an environmental health and safety specialist to investigate, recognize, and evaluate air-related hazards and recommend controls, including air contaminants, and chemical, biological, physical, and ergonomic hazards. Howard University is a comprehensive, research-oriented, historically Black private university based in Washington, DC.

Job Posting

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