May 31, 2019
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
- We Want Your Feedback
- Newsbriefs Past Issues
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Presentations Available From Semi-Annual WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop
The presentations are available from the Exploring Workplace Training Interventions Addressing Workplace Stress and Addiction Workshop and the NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting, which took place on May 14-16 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. WTP Awardee United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education hosted the workshop. The meeting brought awardees together to provide program updates, exchange information regarding training, and discover new areas of interest to awardees.
Piketon Cleanup Riddled With Problems, GAO Watchdog Agency Says
Just days before the Scioto Valley Local School District in southern Ohio closed Zahn’s Corner Middle School because of concerns about contamination from a shuttered uranium enrichment plant nearby, Congress’ top watchdog laid out a damning case against the agency tasked with cleanup of the plant. In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, David Trimble, director of the Government Accountability Office’s Natural Resources and Environment team, described a lengthy list of management failures at the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, which is responsible for the cleanup of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as well as the nation’s 15 other remaining nuclear weapons sites.
The Columbus Dispatch [Author: Jessica Wehrman]
AFGE Demands ‘Immediate Transfer’ of 2K Employees at St. Louis Facility Amid Contamination Concerns
The American Federation of Government Employees is calling for the “immediate transfer” of more than 2,000 federal employees at a multiagency facility in St. Louis with a history of hazardous materials mismanagement, including lead and asbestos. The issue stems from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report from July 2016, in which inspectors documented several “serious” instances of unsafe working conditions, as well as a follow-up report last March from GSA’s Office of Inspector General.
Federal News Network [Author: Jory Heckman]
Hanford Whistleblower Who Lost His Job Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit Over Safety Concerns
A settlement has been reached in the case of a whistleblower who said he lost his job at the Hanford vitrification plant after raising safety concerns. Millwright Walter Ford filed a lawsuit in federal court against Bechtel National, the contractor building the $17 billion plant and AECOM, its primary subcontractor. The parties declined to talk about the settlement other than to say that all parties have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution of the case.
Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]
Bill Would Create $25B Opioid Epidemic Response Fund
New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick have introduced a bill to create a $25 billion Opioid Epidemic Response Fund to provide resources to support states, cities, towns, and communities fight the drug crisis. The fund would provide $5 billion annually over five years targeted to numerous activities involving such agencies as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Institutes of Health; and the Health Resources & Services Administration.
High Radiation Levels Found in Giant Clams Near U.S. Nuclear Dump in Marshall Islands
Researchers have found high levels of radiation in giant clams near the Central Pacific site where the United States entombed waste from nuclear testing almost four decades ago, raising concerns the contamination is spreading from the dump site’s tainted groundwater into the ocean and the food chain. The findings from the Marshall Islands suggest that radiation is either leaking from the waste site — which U.S. officials reject — or that authorities did not adequately clean up radiation left behind from past weapons testing, as some in the Marshall Islands claim.
Los Angeles Times [Author: Susanne Rust and Carolyn Cole]
Tornado Outbreaks Reminder to Make Smartphones Disaster-Ready
Tornadoes have torn their way across the country as the natural disaster season starts, leaving hundreds displaced from their homes and lives in disarray. During natural disasters like these, amid the immediate danger to those in the path, important documents can be damaged or lost and loved ones of those affected are left wondering if they're safe. In today's technological age, there are ways to keep these documents safe while also alerting others of your location. Particularly if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, either spontaneous or seasonal, it's always best to be prepared.
USA Today [Author: Madeline Purdue]
Are Smart Phones Smart to Use on a Work Site?
Communication is critical on construction sites. Whether for coordinating movement of materials or issuing warnings, it is important that workers be able to clearly communicate with each other. Audio devices (e.g. radios, cell phones) can help increase speed and fidelity of communication between workers. While radios provide good voice communications between workers, there are some potential inherent problems. These options can slow communication and in some cases require the use of a hand that is already occupied with a task. Another problem is that wires may interfere with the worker's actions.
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EPA Grants Award Process Webinars
EPA's Office of Grants and Debarment is hosting a webinar for the EPA grants community. The webinar will cover grants topics, including: how to find and apply for grant opportunities; EPA's Grants.gov requirement; and preparing a proper budget detail. In addition, we will be hosting a Q&A session during the second half of the webinar. The webinar will be held on June 18, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET.
Introduction to the Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance
Natural disasters challenge communities every year and are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. To assist communities (including cities, counties, states, tribes) in planning for debris management before a natural disaster occurs, EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery updated its Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance. Pre-incident planning can significantly aid decision-making during a response and enhance a community's resiliency. This webinar will provide an overview of the guidance and highlight lessons learned and best practices. After the presentation, we look forward to answering stakeholder questions. The webinar will be held on June 20, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET.
The Building Bridges to Enhance the Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native Workers Workshop
Please join us July 30 – 31 in Aurora, Colorado for the Building Bridges to Enhance the Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native Workers Workshop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in partnership with the Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) are excited to bring together American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, organizations, and other stakeholders to identify safety and health priorities for American Indian and Alaska Native workers.
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‘Emerging Health and Safety Issues Among Women in the Fire Service’: USFA Releases Report
The U.S. Fire Administration recently published a report that addresses safety and health issues facing women in the fire and emergency medical services and offers recommendations. Developed in conjunction with Women in Fire (formerly the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services), Emerging Health and Safety Issues Among Women in the Fire Service explores initiatives intended to promote safety and health while reducing fatalities and injuries among on-duty women firefighters and emergency responders.
Case Study Links Inexperience to Injuries in Tennessee Construction Industry
Nearly half of the construction workers in Tennessee who were injured over a recent two-year period had been on the job less than a year, according to a recent case study report from the Center for Construction Research and Training – as known as CPWR. Analyzing more than 9,000 statewide workers’ compensation claims for injuries that occurred in 2014 and 2015, researchers at the Construction Industry Research and Policy Center at the University of Tennessee found that 44.5% of the claims were from workers who had less than a year of experience in construction, while 30.1% were from workers who had less than six months of experience.
Women in Environmental Justice – New Grant Program
We believe that a future with inclusive, equitable and sustainable systems for all people depends on deepening the connection between women’s rights and environmental justice. After extensive research, we have designed a grant program to address the fact that, globally, women and girls are the most vulnerable to climate change and hold the firsthand experience to solve it. Linking these two issues not only feels like a natural next step for our company, it is essential to accelerate progress towards improving the status and rights of women and the health of our planet.
Workers Severely Injured Using Demolition Robots
Two construction workers were severely injured in separate incidents involving remote controlled-demolition machines also known as demolition robots. Workers operated similar machines with three-part articulating arms powered by electric-controlled hydraulics. Both used remote controllers intended to keep them outside the machine’s risk zone, which varies by specific machine, attachment, and task.
Stress in the World of Industrial Hygiene: Is It Understood?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently defines industrial hygiene as "the science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or among the citizens of the community." In reviewing this definition, the term "stresses" may surprise some of you as one of the things industrial hygienists are trained to deal with in the workplace.
Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Ralph Blessing]
Report Details PFAS Contamination Near Pittsburgh Airport That ‘Likely’ Extends Beyond Military Base Boundaries
According to a recent report from the U.S. National Guard, toxic firefighting foam has, over time, contaminated the surface and groundwater at two military bases at the southeast end of the airport, fewer than 1.5 miles from Chromack's home. The foam contains several chemicals referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFAS], which have been linked to low birthweight, thyroid problems, immune system disruptions and cancer.
Environmental Health News [Author: Oliver Morrison]
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Hurricane-Associated Mold Exposures Among Patients at Risk for Invasive Mold Infections After Hurricane Harvey — Houston, Texas, 2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report on immunosuppressed persons in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused unprecedented flooding and devastation to the Houston metropolitan area. Mold exposure was a serious concern because investigations after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) had documented extensive mold growth in flood-damaged homes. Because mold exposure can cause serious illnesses known as invasive mold infections, and immunosuppressed persons are at high risk for these infections, several federal agencies recommend that immunosuppressed persons avoid mold-contaminated sites. To assess the extent of exposure to mold and flood-damaged areas among persons at high risk for invasive mold infections after Hurricane Harvey, CDC and Texas health officials conducted a survey among 103 immunosuppressed residents in Houston.
Tornado Preparedness and Response
Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning. Taking precautions in advance of the storms, such as developing an emergency plan, learning the warning signs, and monitoring tornado watches and warnings, can help you stay safe if a tornado occurs in your area. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This page is designed to help businesses and their workers prepare for tornadoes, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face in the aftermath of a tornado.
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Findings and Lessons Learned from the NIEHS Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training Program
Representatives of three WTP awardee organizations discuss evaluation methods, key findings, and lessons learned from their IDR training programs. Speakers include Lisa McCormick, Dr.P.H., co-principal investigator for the Deep South Biosafety Worker Training Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); Diane Stein, an evaluator and curricula developer with the United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety, and Environmental Education (USW TMC); and Shari Glines-Allen, an instructor with the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) Center for Worker Health and Safety Education. (April 15, 2019)
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New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Seeks Workplace Health & Safety And Healthcare Specialist
Bridge expertise and established practices and programs in Health and Safety to unify and empower both Health and Safety Union Activists and NYSUT’s 15,000 Health Care Professionals statewide. Utilize social media and continue developing an online presence for workplace health and safety and health care professional’s issues. Work with outside agencies and organizations to advocate on issues related to health and safety and health care professionals on behalf of NYSUT. In addition, this position also works closely with the NYSUT Statewide Health and Safety Advisory Committee and NYSUT Health Care Professional Council. Qualified applicants should submit résumé and cover letter to NYSUT Human Resources HR@nysutmail.org no later than June 1, 2019.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Occupational Safety & Health (LOSH) Has Two Positions Open
USCLA-LOSH is seeking a Health and Safety Educator/Technician and a HazMat Trainer/Coordinator. The Educator/Technician is responsible for outreach, education and technical assistance with community-based, worker and environmental justice organizations, employers and other constituencies with a focus on underserved worker populations in the Western Region. The Trainer/Coordinator oversees LOSH’s worker training initiatives related to hazardous materials handling, hazardous waste cleanup, and emergency response.
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