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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: March 26, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, March 26, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

March 26, 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

Spring 2021 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the virtual NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop. The Awardee Meeting will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, April 20, and the Workshop will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 21-22. The workshop is tentatively scheduled at 1:00-5:15 p.m. ET both days. Additional information will be published in the coming days, including a meeting agenda.


Could a Workplace Infectious Disease Standard Be on the Horizon?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the hazard of infectious diseases in the workplace. California already has an airborne transmissible disease (ATD) standard that applies in correctional and healthcare facilities and to fire, police, and other public services. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety advocates, labor unions, and members of Congress have called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an infectious disease standard.

EHS Daily [Author: Guy Burdick]

Contaminated Textile Plant in Clearwater Added to EPA Cleanup List

A former textile dyeing and finishing plant in Clearwater has been added to the Superfund National Priorities List, a catalog that guides investigations and cleanup funding toward some of the nation’s most serious sources of contamination. Clearwater Finishing, near Clearwater Lake, a sprawl of wetlands, and homes and businesses, was added to the prioritizing list late last year, after the state of South Carolina referred the site to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aiken Standard [Author: Colin Demarest]

The Chemical Safety Board Quietly Expands Its Incidents Review

More than a decade after a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) for “investigation gaps,” the CSB is now taking meaningful steps to close the gaps the GAO identified. Under the Clean Air Act, the CSB was to “establish by regulation requirements binding on persons for reporting accidental releases into the ambient air subject to the Board’s investigatory jurisdiction.”

Bloomberg Law

Virus Worker Safety Rule Tests Biden After Trump DOL Nixed Draft

Career officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) drafted an emergency rule last spring to impede the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, but it was scuttled by Trump appointees—a previously undisclosed development that sheds new light on the Biden administration’s delay in releasing a similar regulation.

Bloomberg Law [Authors: Ian Kullgren and Bruce Rolfsen]

Pandemic and Trump-Era Neglect Overwhelm Federal Agency Tasked with Worker Safety

They worked shoulder to shoulder with sharp knives. They were offered $500 bonuses if they didn’t miss a shift in a month during which a major health crisis loomed. Those were among the allegations against the Smithfield Foods meat processing plant in Milan, a town of not quite 2,000 in north-central Missouri, as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country last April. Personal protective equipment wasn’t readily available.

Kansas City Star [Author: Jonathan Shorman and Steve Vockrodt]

Dying of Loneliness: What COVID-19 Has Taught Us About the Opioid Epidemic

Opioid overdoses have been on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken center stage. Rather than existing separately, there appears to be an interplay between COVID-19 and addictions. Now, experts say the key to saving lives might be addressing the isolation brought on by the pandemic and the stigma associated with addiction.

ABC News [Author: Nicholas Nissen]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

CSB Public Hearing: Sunshine Act Meeting

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will convene a public meeting on Friday, April 2 at 11:00 a.m. ET. This meeting serves to fulfill its quarterly Spring public meeting requirement. The Board will review the CSB’s progress in meeting its mission and highlight safety products newly released through investigations and safety recommendations.

Meeting Information

The Paindemic: The Intersection between the COVID-19 Pandemic and Deaths of Despair

NIEHS is hosting a webinar that will detail the extent of the problem of deaths of despair and how the COVID-19 pandemic has added fuel to the fire. Increased stress related to pandemic conditions and its effect on mental health are important factors driving an increase in alcohol consumption, opioid overdoses and fatalities, and increased suicides. The webinar will be held on April 8 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Information

Estimating Indoor Transmission Risks of SARS-CoV-2

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a presentation that will explore two case studies where the Wells-Riley model was used to calculate SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk estimates. Based on previously collected data, risk estimates were calculated for nail salons and public schools located in New York City under different exposure scenarios. The webinar will be held on April 13 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

2021 HHS Small Business Program Conference Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for life sciences in the U.S. There is more than $1.2 billion of seed funding for small businesses who are developing innovative products and services that could potentially save lives. This conference, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will explore the theme Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations. The conference will be held April 26-30.

More Information

AIHce EXP 2021

The American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce EXP) is an experience for Occupational Environmental Health Solutions professionals of all levels, specialties, and expertise. Discover the tools and strategies you need to protect worker health while taking advantage of several networking opportunities to grow your professional network. The event will take place in-person and virtual on May 24-26.

Event Registration

Notice of Intent to Publish a FOA for Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications on observational research to understand the role of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) in causing and sustaining health disparities, and intervention research that addresses SRD in order to improve minority health or reduce health disparities. The estimated application due date is Aug. 20.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Oregon Governor Announces 10-Point Economic Recovery Plan

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a 10-Point Economic Recovery Plan on March 24 that aims to help families and businesses across the state, with a focus on people of color, impacted financially by the pandemic and 2020 wildfires.

AP News [Author: Sara Cline]

U.S. Global Change Research Program Should Shift Focus to Preparing for and Avoiding Worst Potential Consequences of Climate Change, Says New Report

As it drafts its next decadal strategic plan, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) should shift its focus to providing insights that help society prepare for and avoid the worst potential consequences of climate change, while protecting the most vulnerable, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Traditional climate research that projects changes in the natural environment to estimate potential consequences is not meeting the needs of decision-makers as they respond to the climate crisis, the report says.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The Coal Plant Next Door

Georgia Power would have to shut down roughly 30 ponds from the Appalachian foothills to the wetlands near the Georgia coast. After draining all the ponds, the company would have two options for disposing of the highly contaminated dry ash left behind: It could either move the ash into a landfill fitted with a protective liner or pack the dry ash into a smaller footprint and place a cover on top.

ProPublica [Author: Max Blau]

Are California Oil Companies Complying with the Law? Even Regulators Often don’t Know.

This oil and gas regulatory agency was given more resources to protect the public and environment. But with its “useless” record-keeping system and lax enforcement practices, it still struggles to hold delinquent companies accountable.

ProPublica [Author: Janet Wilson, The Desert Sun]

Breaking U.S. Nuclear Waste Stalemate Could Be Key to Biden’s Climate Goals, Stanford Scholars Say

Nuclear power is likely to be key to the clean energy transition, but the problem of what to do with nuclear waste represents a major hurdle to new nuclear energy projects in the United States. In order to meet its ambitious climate goals, the Biden administration will need to solve this thorny issue, according to several Stanford University experts.

Stanford University News [Author: Kate Gibson]

Prison Company Violated Federal Pesticide Law In Misuse Of Disinfectant Inside Immigration Detention Center

The private prison company that operates an immigration detention facility northeast of Los Angeles violated federal law by misusing a chemical disinfectant spray that caused detainees to experience nosebleeds, burning eyes, nausea and headaches, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Andrea Castillo]

Global Health Care Worker Burnout Is High And 'Unsustainable'

More than half of all health care workers worldwide are experiencing burnout that, if not addressed, could cause many to leave their fields in favor of less-stressful occupations or choose early retirement. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse. That's the warning of a surgeon from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in a letter and a call for global action published March 22 in the Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine.


Green Space in Cities Can Bring Considerable Health Benefits for Communities, But Access Is Unequal

Once a dumping ground for trash and industrial pollution in Globeville, the development of Platte Farm Open Space was a 14-year journey, a collaborative effort between the community members of Globeville, the city of Denver, and Groundwork Denver, a nonprofit organization that works to create green spaces to help improve community health.

Ensia [Author: Ambika Chawla]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIEHS is interested in observational research examining the role of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) as a significant determinant in environmental health disparities, or evidence-based intervention research that mitigates or prevents the negative health outcomes attributable to environmental SRD. Applicants are strongly encouraged to utilize community engaged research approaches and include letters of support from community partners. Applications are due August 24.


HHS ASPR TRACIE COVID-19 and Ebola Resources

The Express March 2021from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) features technical resources on Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Ebola/VHF Topic Collection.


U.S. DOT "Mask Up" Campaign Launches to Ensure Transportation Worker Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) recently announced the agency's “Mask Up” campaign to help ensure the safety of transportation workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign is a joint effort by the Federal Aviation, Motor Carrier Safety, Railroad and Transit Administrations across all forms of transportation. The centerpiece of the campaign is a digital toolkit including posters, social media, FAQs and other resources.

Roads and Bridges


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR are also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


COVID-19 Vaccine Mobile Online Course for Workers from Cell Podium

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, was the leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020. Several approaches are needed to defeat this virus. Vaccines are an important part of effective control against spread in your workplace and community. Quarantine or isolation, physical distancing, handwashing, mask wearing, and use of other safety measures at your worksite must continue, even after you have been vaccinated. These measures are important to protect yourself and others.

Cell Podium

Job OpeningsBack to Top

CPWR Seeks Data Center Assistant Director

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is seeking an assistant director. The position’s major responsibilities include analyzing large national datasets, summarizing statistical results, guiding data visualization efforts, and co-drafting reports, briefs, and scientific manuscripts for publication and dissemination. This is an excellent opportunity for a seasoned statistician, epidemiologist or other specialist with demonstrated data management and data analysis experience.

Job Posting

UIOWA Seeks Occupational and Environmental Health Department Head

The University of Iowa College of Public Health seeks a dedicated and experienced leader for the head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. The Department Head serves as the departmental executive officer and reports directly to the Dean of the College. The major responsibilities include setting a compelling vision that inspires others to engage in transforming and executing the strategic direction for the department.

Job Posting

UFCW Seeks Occupational Safety and Health Specialist and Assistant Director

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is seeking to hire an occupational safety and health specialist and assistant director. The occupational safety and health specialist will respond to requests from UFCW local unions in UFCW core industries, meatpacking, poultry, food processing and retail on occupational safety and health issues. The assistant director will provide support to the Director to carry out the safety and health operations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) office.

Job Posting – Occupational Safety and Health Specialist

Job Posting – Assistant Director

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