June 30, 2023
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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New York Braces for More Smoke from Canada Wildfires as Chicago Air Quality Worst in World
Weeks after wildfire smoke from fires burning in Canada blanketed much of the East Coast with hazy, orange skies and unsafe air quality, Chicagoans woke up to the worst air quality in the world. Meanwhile, more smoky air is headed back to New Yorkers. Experts say it's best to avoid strenuous activity when air quality levels are unsafe outside, and to stay indoors as much as possible. Use air purifiers to help the air quality inside and wear an N95 mask if you must go outside. Additional resources for protecting workers exposed to wildfire smoke are available on the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health.
USA Today [Author: Jeanine Santucci]
Pregnant Workers May Get Longer Breaks, More Time Off and Other Accommodations as New Law Takes Effect
Millions of pregnant and postpartum workers across the country could be legally entitled to accommodations when the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes effect. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has yet to publish a list of the types of accommodations that will be required under the law, but examples could include more flexible hours, the option to sit in jobs that require long periods of standing, a parking spot closer to the workplace, access to uniforms and safety apparel that fit a pregnant person’s changing body, and excusal from heavy lifting or working around chemicals that could be dangerous during pregnancy.
NBC News [Author: Julianne McShane]
The NTSB is Holding Hearings into The Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began hearings to investigate what caused the fiery train derailment in Ohio in February 2023, as well as the decision a few days later to vent and burn hazardous chemicals from the wreckage. Some residents are still displaced as the cleanup continues. NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said at the investigative hearings that their goal will be to figure out what happened and why, so they can issue safety recommendations.
Malaria Cases in Texas and Florida are the First U.S. Spread in 20 years, CDC Says
The United States has seen five cases of malaria spread by mosquitos in the last two months, — the first time there’s been local spread in 20 years — prompting officials to issue a public health alert warning for doctors, public health authorities, and the public about the risk. Four cases were identified in southwest Florida and one in southern Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Malaria is a serious disease transmitted through the bite of an infective female anopheline mosquito, according to the CDC. Although malaria can be fatal, the CDC said illness and death from the disease can usually be prevented.
Yahoo News [Author: Thao Nguyen]
A Train Carrying Hazardous Materials Plunges into Yellowstone River After Bridge Fails
A bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River in Montana collapsed plunging portions of a freight train carrying hazardous materials into the rushing water below. The train cars were carrying hot asphalt and molten sulfur, Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services said. The cause of the collapse is under investigation. In neighboring Yellowstone County, officials said they instituted emergency measures at water treatment plants due to the "potential hazmat spill" and asked residents to conserve water.
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Climate Crossroads Summit 2023
To meet the challenges that climate change poses to the planet and society, the nation and the world must harness the full complement of knowledge and skills across science, engineering, and medicine. The National Academies Climate Crossroads Summit will bring together leaders spanning the breadth of expertise for a vibrant discussion about how to catalyze action among a diverse range of stakeholders and decision makers. The hybrid event will be held on July 11 and 12, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. EDT.
Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards in Construction: A Q&A Session on OSHA's National Emphasis Program
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a National Emphasis Program (NEP) aimed at protecting employees from heat-related hazards, resulting injuries, and illnesses in outdoor and indoor workplaces. Since construction workers are among those with a high risk of heat exposure, CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training has invited a representative of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement to answer the top questions about the NEP. In addition, CPWR and OSHA will both share a variety of resources for employers and workers to help increase awareness of heat hazards, signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, and methods of prevention. The webinar will be held on July 12, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
Foresight Friday @ NIOSH: Preparing the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce for Future Disruptions
Despite lessons learned during COVID-19, evidence suggests the world remains largely underprepared for—and vulnerable to—future threats and crises. In 2022, researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) led a team of volunteers through a strategic foresight exercise to explore how future pandemics and other sudden disruptions might impact work and jobs and shape the practice of occupational safety and health (OSH). In this webinar, the NIOSH Office of Research Integration will review the methods employed by the team and summarize key findings from the inquiry. The event will be held on July 14, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.
The Continuing Challenge Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Workshop
The annual Continuing Challenge Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Workshop began in 1990 for the purpose of providing training, networking, and hands-on learning opportunities for all employees in hazardous materials emergency response-related fields of employment. Each year the workshop brings together prominent and skilled presenters who volunteer to provide our students with the most recent information available to enhance and grow critical skills to ensure a safe and effective response. The workshop will be held September 5-8, 2023, in Sacramento, CA.
|On The Web This Week
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Firefighting Gear Contains ‘Forever Chemicals’, Report Concludes
Firefighters’ turnout gear — the heavy clothing they don before fighting a fire — is essential protective equipment. A report published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concludes that “forever chemicals”, known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — some linked to cancer — are present in textiles commonly used in the gear. Firefighting is associated with higher blood serum levels of PFAS and firefighters have higher cancer risk than non-firefighters.
Washington Post (subscription required) [Author: Erin Blakemore]
ASHRAE Approves Groundbreaking Standard to Reduce the Risk of Disease Transmission in Indoor Spaces
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has developed Standard 241, Control of Infectious Aerosols, which establishes minimum requirements to reduce the risk of disease transmission by exposure to infectious aerosols in new buildings, existing buildings, and major renovations. Use of this standard would reduce exposure to COVID-19, influenza viruses and other pathogens that cause major personal and economic damage every year. Standard 241 provides requirements for many aspects of air system design, installation, operation, and maintenance. The press release summarizes the key aspects of the standard.
Cal/OSHA Fines Two Farms Where Half Moon Bay Shooter Killed Seven People
California Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CALL/OSHA) officials fined two mushroom farms where a mass shooter killed seven people in January 2023. Citing both employers failed to establish workplace safety plans to evaluate the threat of workplace violence and train workers in a language they can understand, state regulators said. Many of the workers at both farms spoke either Spanish or Chinese dialects.
|Federal Agency Update
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U.S. Department of Labor Invites Small Business Owners, Local Governments to Share Input on Potential Heat Standard to Protect Indoor, Outdoor Workers
With the U.S. commonly experiencing rising temperatures, hazards associated with exposure to high temperatures in the workplace are also increasing. Currently, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a potential standard for workplaces — in which the agency has jurisdiction — to prevent heat illness and injury in outdoor and indoor environments in general industry and in the construction, maritime and agriculture industries.
EPA Announces Over $50 Million to Assist Small, Underserved, and Disadvantaged Communities in Accessing Clean and Safe Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced funding to support projects and activities in underserved, small and disadvantaged communities to access and invest in water infrastructure and comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Grant funding can support a broad range of approaches to help communities address drinking water concerns, from household water quality testing to monitoring for unregulated drinking water contaminants.
U.S. Department of Labor Awards Initial $4.5M to Support Disaster-Related Jobs, Other Assistance to Guam in Wake of Typhoon Mawar
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today announced the initial award of $4,549,554 in funding to support cleanup and recovery activities in Guam after Typhoon Mawar caused flooding and extensive damage in May 2023. The Category 4 typhoon made landfall on Guam’s northern tip and then moved across the island, bringing widespread flooding and 140 mile-per-hour winds. The storm knocked out power and affected Guam’s water supply.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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New Jersey State Police Get Special Training to Respond to Crashes with Hazardous Chemicals
Recently the transportation of potentially hazardous chemicals has been under intense scrutiny. The New Jersey State Police Hazardous Materials Technician Program is training first responders for these scenarios. When first responders arrive on the scene, they're dealing with unknown hazardous material, and they rely on their training to make quick decisions. The New Jersey State Police are a subgrantee of the Worker Training Program through the Atlantic Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
CBS News [Author: Christine Sloan]
Part II: How HBCUs Are Exploring the Potential for Sustainability
In 2011, Dr. Beverly Wright and Dr. Robert D. Bullard established the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Climate Change Consortium to develop HBCU student leaders, scientists, and advocates in vulnerable communities in the southern United States. According to Alabama A&M University, more than 90 percent of their forestry graduates have found jobs in their field of study, including careers with the USDA Forest Service and other opportunities in forest fire protection, silviculture, fish and wildlife services, forest ecology, education and outreach, consultancy, and geographic information systems (GIS).
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The Center for Construction Research and Training is seeking a new Principal Investigator (PI) for The Building Trades National Medical Screening Program (BTMed)
The PI is responsible for the ethical and technical conduct of BTMed. PI duties include maintaining current program protocols, assuring adequate resources, ensuring informed consent, looking after the welfare of the participants, communicating with the Institutional Review Board, overseeing collaborating entities, and more.
Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America Seeks an Industrial Hygienist
The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America is seeking a highly motivated Industrial Hygienist or equivalent safety and health professional to provide technical health and safety support to the members and affiliates of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). The position reports to the Executive Director of the Fund and the Director of the Occupational Safety & Health Division of the Fund.
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