May 8, 2020
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 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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DOE Idaho, Savannah River Waste Projects Largely Frozen by COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily halted most physical work on major waste projects scheduled to come online this year at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory and Savannah River Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Reductions in on-site staffing triggered by DOE efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have suspended virtually all physical work.
Exchange Monitor [Author: Wayne Barber]
Federal Government Rejects Contentions to Nuclear Waste Site Near Carlsbad and Hobbs
A proposed nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad and Hobbs proceeded through the federal licensing process despite protests. Holtec International applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to build and operate a facility that would temporarily store spent nuclear fuel rods in a remote location of southeast New Mexico while a permanent repository is developed.
Carlsbad Current-Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]
FEMA Didn’t ‘Effectively’ Deploy Employees to Disaster Areas, Says Watchdog
According to a May 4 report from the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) program to qualify and deploy staff to disasters, known as the FEMA Qualification System, "did not provide reliable and complete staffing information to field officials to ensure its workforce was effectively deployed and used during the 2017 and 2018 disaster seasons.”
Federal Times [Author: Andrew Eversden]
Pa. Leads Nation in Virus-Stricken Meat Plant Workers, CDC Says
Pennsylvania leads the nation in confirmed cases of COVID-19 among meat production workers, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 1, the same day that activists and workers from one Central Pennsylvania plant began protesting what they described as unsafe working conditions.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Authors: Jessica Calefati and Bob Fernandez]
Distressed Coronavirus Frontline Workers Flood Mental Health Hotline
Battle-scarred healthcare workers are calling state volunteers at a rate of more than once every hour for help dealing with the devastating emotional toll of witnessing death en masse, The Post has learned. The state’s COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline fielded 380 calls from healthcare workers pushed to the brink by the pandemic from April 15-28, according to the state Office of Mental Health.
New York Post [Author: Sara Dorn]
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U.S. Department of Labor to Hold Meeting to Solicit Public Input on OSHA Whistleblower Program
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a teleconference meeting May 12, in Washington, D.C., to solicit public comments and suggestions on key issues facing OSHA’s whistleblower protection program. The meeting will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET.
Health Impacts of Extreme Heat
Arizona State University is hosting a webinar on May 14 at 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET that will address current research and applications on human health and extreme heat at the individual, community, and city levels and provide climate action guidance to city leaders, practitioners, and the public. Panelists, including NIEHS Senior Advisor John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H., will assess additional burdens and risks resulting from COVID-19.
WCRI Webinar on COVID-19 Compensability
Across the country, policymakers are wrestling with whether a worker who contracts COVID-19 is compensated under workers’ compensation for income loss and medical expenses ─ given communicable diseases, such as the flu, have generally not been covered. The Workers Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, May 14, at 2:00 p.m. ET on workers’ compensation.
EPA Environmental Justice Grants Opportunity to Address COVID-19 Impacts Faced by Vulnerable Communities is Now Open!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $1 million in grant funding available to states, local governments, tribes, and territories for projects to improve the health and welfare of low income, minority, tribal and indigenous communities. EPA will give special consideration to those applications aimed at addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic communities with EJ concerns. The deadline to apply is June 30.
Superfund Research Program Occupational Health and Safety Education Programs on Emerging Technologies
The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH. The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. The deadline to apply is Aug. 3 by 5:00 p.m. local time.
New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Workplace – Risk Factors and Solutions
New Solutions seeks manuscripts on the subject of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its occupational and environmental health policy impacts from the local to international levels. Manuscripts can be submitted immediately and for the foreseeable future. Accepted papers will be published as quickly as possible.
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Public Health Education and Training Development E-learning Design
Public health educators can enhance training effectiveness by applying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Quality Training Standards for e-learning and classroom training and learning from successful examples. These tools and resources assist e‑learning developers in creating quality products and will help those new to e‑learning understand the basics. There is a new Quality E-learning Checklist for quality assurance of e-learning.
What Tribal Members Need to Know About COVID-19
The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has partnered with the Indian Health Service and tribal health departments to provide resources for communities dealing with COVID-19. Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent guidance, the team is creating communication materials on best practices for protection during this outbreak.
Mauge-Lewis Researches Replacement PFAS in Firefighting Foams
Chemical mixtures used in firefighting were the focus of a March 30 webinar sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate toxicology and environmental medicine program. Kevin Mauge-Lewis, an NIEHS Intramural Research Training Award fellow, said there is concern that use of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) may lead to adverse human health effects.
NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Jesse Saffron]
NPIAP Recommendations for Mask Pressure Injuries
The National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP) released a statement on mask injuries and how they can be prevented. In collaboration with the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and the Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance, the NPIAP developed an “evidence-based” guideline to ensure PPE remains effective, but does not cause severe injury.
Solar, Wind Energy Struggle as Coronavirus Takes Toll
The U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board. In locked-down California, some local agencies that issue permits for new work closed temporarily, and some solar companies furloughed installers.
PBS News Hour [Authors: Cathy Bussewitz, John Flesher, and Patrick Whittle]
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COVID-19 Funding Available to Minority, Rural and Socially Vulnerable Communities for Linkages to Services, Information and Education
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH) announced a competitive funding opportunity to invest up to $40 million for the development and coordination of a strategic network of national, state, territorial, tribal and local organizations to deliver important COVID-19-related information to racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities in 19 States
COVID-19 cases among U.S. workers in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities were reported by 19 states. Among approximately 130,000 workers at these facilities, 4,913 cases and 20 deaths occurred. Factors potentially affecting risk for infection include difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions.
50 Years of Protecting Workers’ Safety and Health
This year marks a milestone for all U.S. workers—50 years since passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). The OSH Act created the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) to research, educate, and inform about workplace safety and health. It also established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue regulations to make workplaces safer and healthier.
NIOSH eNews [Author: NIOSH Director John Howard]
EPA Announces Grant Awards for Brownfields
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs.
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New COVID-19 Resources: Standards for Construction Sites, Construction Clearinghouse
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and North America’s Building Trades Union have released the COVID-19 Standards for U.S. Construction Sites. The guidance has been updated since early March and identify what steps should be taken to reduce construction worker exposure to the virus on the job.
COVID-19 Researchers Gain Quick Access to Surveys, Protocols
A new collection of resources and tools for epidemiologists, clinicians, and other scientists studying COVID-19 became available in April thanks to the National Institutes of Health Disaster Research Response (DR2) program. DR2 is led by NIEHS in collaboration with the National Library of Medicine.
NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Kelly Lenox]
UAW Leader 'Encouraged' by Ford Plants' Safety Protocols as Reopen Date Considered
The United Auto Workers (UAW) President Rory Gamble voiced concern on April 23 about sending hourly workers back into auto plants too soon, saying early May was "risky" and comprehensive safety protections needed to be put in place as intense discussion with the Detroit Three companies continued.
Detroit Free Press [Author: Phoebe Wall Howard]
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UCLA-LOSH Seeks Health and Safety Training Coordinator
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) is hiring a new position. The Health and Safety Training Coordinator is responsible for providing open-enrollment and contract courses related to hazardous materials handling, hazardous waste cleanup, and hazmat emergency response.
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