March 11, 2022
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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U.S. Steel Fined $1.8 Million For Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions at Clairton Plant
The Allegheny County Health Department announced that it was fining U.S. Steel $1.8 million for excess hydrogen sulfide emissions at its Clairton Coke Works plant. The Health Department found that there were 153 days since 2020 when hydrogen sulfide levels at a county air monitoring site exceeded state air quality standards.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Author: Emily Mullin]
Pollution and Mental Health
An under-researched field exploring the intersection of pollution and mental health is gaining momentum as evidence mounts that environmental pollutants damage every organ in our bodies—including our brains. This guide explores the emerging science, and offers solutions aimed at better supporting mental health in the face of these environmental challenges.
How Air Pollution Across America Reflects Racist Policy From the 1930s
Urban neighborhoods that were redlined by federal officials in the 1930s tended to have higher levels of harmful air pollution eight decades later, a new study has found, adding to a body of evidence that reveals how racist policies in the past have contributed to inequalities across the United States today.
Yahoo! News [Authors: Raymond Zhong and Nadja Popovich]
Mountaire Farms Said North Carolina Worker Complaints About a Toxic Chemical Were “Bogus.” The State DOL Just Fined the Company for Serious Violations.
After refuting workers’ claims that they were being exposed to a toxic chemical that gave them serious respiratory issues, poultry company Mountaire Farms was fined last week by the North Carolina Department of Labor (NC DOL). According to the agency, the company failed to provide employees with effective information and training regarding the use of a corrosive chemical.
The Counter [Author: Tina Vasquez]
Oil Spill at Sea: Who Will Pay for Peru’s Worst Environmental Disaster?
More than a month after Peru’s worst ever environmental disaster on its coastline there are few signs of reckoning for Repsol, the Spanish energy company that manages the refinery where more than 10,000 barrels of crude oil spewed into the Pacific Ocean after a routine tanker discharge went awry.
The Guardian [Author: Dan Collyns]
EU Asks U.N. Watchdog to Safeguard Ukraine's Nuclear Plants
The European Union (EU) has asked the United Nations nuclear watchdog to safeguard Ukraine's nuclear plants, two of which are now under Russian control, and mobilize international help in case of an emergency, according to a letter seen by Reuters. EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson wrote a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Rafael Grossi.
Reuters [Author: Kate Abnett]
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OSHA Virtual Event to Share Best Practices on Workplace Safety
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other stakeholders are offering workers, employers, educators, safety and health professionals and others a unique, virtual opportunity to increase their knowledge of workplace safety and health issues during Pacific Coast Safety Fest, March 14-17.
Workshop: Disaster Research Response (DR2) Training Workshop
On March 17, the University of Washington EDGE Center will help host an online Disaster Research Response (DR2) Training Workshop to focus on the process for conducting research specific to Pacific Northwest (PNW) hazards. These include a Cascadia earthquake scenario, heat waves, and wildfire smoke events. Event participants will include local, state, and federal officials, as well as representatives from PNW Tribes, academia, the private sector, and community-based organizations. Please contact Jamie Vickery (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Coal Ash: How Safe Is It and How Should We Manage It?
The Duke University Superfund Research Program is hosting an in-person and online coal ash symposium on March 25. The symposium will feature a panel of speakers that will address the following topics: environmental chemistry and risks of coal ash, health risks of coal ash, remediation and management of coal ash, and policy, law, and community impacts.
Biden-Harris Administration Issues Call for Wildfire Commission Member Applications
The Departments of Agriculture, the Interior and Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are now accepting applications for members to the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law authorized establishment of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Applications are due March 25.
Eighth Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in collaboration with Texas Southern University will host the in-person Eight Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference April 13-16 in New Orleans. The purpose of the conference is to bring together HBCU faculty and students, researchers, climate professionals and environmental justice and coastal community residents impacted by toxic facilities and severe weather events related to climate change.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces $3.2M in Susan Harwood Grants for Workplace Safety, Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the availability of $3.2 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19 grants. The deadline to apply is May 6.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces Proposed Rule to Update Powered Industrial Trucks Standard for General Industry, Construction
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to improve worker safety and health by ensuring the agency’s general industry and construction industry rules reflect current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology. The comment period ends May 17.
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Report Addresses Labor Movement, Transition to Green Economy in RI
Climate Jobs Rhode Island, The Worker Institute at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and other organizations have collaborated to address how the state's climate goals and the labor movement intersect. A year of research culminated in the report “Building a Just Transition for a Resilient Future: A Climate Jobs Program for Rhode Island” released in January.
Brown Daily Herald [Author: Julia Vaz]
Mayor Adams Announces Agreement to Transform South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into Leading Offshore Wind Hub
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an agreement that will transform the city-owned South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) into one of the largest offshore wind port facilities in the nation. The agreement will help establish New York as a leader in offshore wind and help New York City meet its nation-leading climate goals of 100 percent clean electricity by 2040.
Grant to Help Tulane Fight Regional Health Worker Burnout
Tulane University's School of Social Work will use part of a $2.27 million federal grant to address burnout, low job satisfaction and other problems suffered by Louisiana health care workers. The university says in a news release that the school will work with Access Health Louisiana, a network of community health clinics.
Occupational Exposure of Canadian Nail Salon Workers to Plasticizers Including Phthalates and Organophosphate Esters
Nail care services in North America are popular and a growing service industry. The number of U.S. licensed nail manicurists and pedicurists is projected to increase around 10% from 2018 to reach 172,000 workers by 2028. In a recent study, nail salon technicians had elevated exposures to some phthalates and organophosphate esters, chemicals that are not sufficiently addressed by workplace or health regulations in Canada.
Lifetime Occupational Exposures and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Risk in the UK Biobank Cohort
Occupational exposures are important, preventable causes of COPD. We previously found an increased risk of COPD among six occupations by analyzing lifetime job histories and lung function data in the population-based United Kingdom Biobank cohort. A study published in Thorax aimed to build on findings and elucidate the underlying potential causal agents to focus preventive strategies.
South Korea: Thousands Flee Their Homes After Wildfire Engulfs City and Threatens Nuclear Power Station
Some 6,000 people have been evacuated out of the Samcheok area, 330km (205 miles) southeast of Seoul, as firefighters tackle the blaze. The fire once threatened to destroy the Hanul nuclear power plant, with South Korean President Moon-Jae-in ordering an urgent effort to stop the flames.
Sky News [Author: Josh Gafson]
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U.S. Department of Labor Announces Enforcement, Effort for Focused Inspections in Hospitals, Nursing Care Facilities Treating COVID-19 Patients
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an enforcement memorandum for a short-term increase in highly focused inspections directed at hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities that treat or handle COVID-19 patients. OSHA’s goal is to expand its presence to ensure continued mitigation to control the spread of COVID-19.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces $144 Million to Create Good-Paying Union Jobs, Revitalize Coal Communities
During a visit to Ohio, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu announced more than $144 million is available to states and Tribes for abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation efforts in fiscal year 2022.
Is Climate Change Impacting the Safety of Chemical Facilities?
Across the nation, the federal government regulates approximately 11,000 facilities that make, use, or store extremely hazardous chemicals in amounts that could harm the public if accidentally released. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires these facilities to develop a risk management plan to prevent or minimize the consequences of an accidental release.
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BP Spill Cleanup Workers More Likely to Be Diagnosed with Hypertension, New Study Says
BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill workers who were highly exposed to oil-related chemicals and other particulates during the 2010 cleanup were more likely to be newly diagnosed with hypertension years after the spill, according to a new study. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Worker Safety, Environmental Justice Top Priorities of NIEHS Program
Recently, NIEHS Director Rick Woychik spoke with WTP Director Sharon Beard to learn more about her efforts at WTP and what motivated her to pursue a career in industrial hygiene, specifically in the field of environmental worker health and safety. One thing that stood out from the conversation is that she is passionate about translating research regarding environmental and occupational hazards into easy-to-understand, actionable advice for workers facing potentially harmful exposures.
Recording and Presentation Materials from Evaluation Community of Practice Feb. 10 Webinar Now Available
The webinar recording and presentation materials are now available from the Evaluating the Benefits of the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) webinar hosted by WTP on Feb. 10. The webinar engaged ECWTP grantees and stakeholders in discussing how they evaluate the benefits and impacts of ECWTP. Webinar participants learned best practices and gained new ideas for future ECWTP evaluation.
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NIEHS Seeks Director of Extramural Research and Training
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is accepting applications for Director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. The ideal candidate will have executive and managerial leadership experience, to include experience in scientific review and grants management. Candidates must have an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree in a field relevant to the position. The application period began on March 1 and will remain open for 60 days.
OSHA is Hiring
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hiring multiple positions across the U.S. Open positions include Safety and Occupational Health Specialists, Industrial Hygienist, Safety Engineers, and more.
UFCW Seeks OSH Positions
The national union of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is hiring to fill two occupational safety and health (OSH) positions: The positions are an Assistant Director for Occupational Safety and Health and an Occupational Safety and Health Specialist. The deadline to apply is March 15.
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