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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: May 14, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, May 14, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

May 14, 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

Cyberattacks Grind Hanford Nuclear Energy Workers’ Benefit Program to a Halt

Cyberattacks on the U.S. government have abruptly paused processing of benefit applications for workers who were sickened while working on nuclear weapons programs at Hanford and other Department of Energy sites, delaying aid to some dying workers, according to advocates. Without warning, advocates from the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Group received notice that effective on May 10 a vital component of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program would be offline for two to four months.

Seattle Times [Author: Patrick Malone]

Union Leaders Decry Indiana’s High Rate of Worker Deaths

Indiana labor union leaders are calling for improved workplace safety enforcement with the state’s rate of deaths while working about one-third higher than the national average. Federal data shows Indiana had 146 worker deaths during 2019, the most recent year available. A report from the AFL-CIO says that represents 4.7 deaths per 100,000 workers compared to the national rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000.

Associated Press

Report: Los Alamos Lab Packed Prohibited Metal in Sparking Waste Drum

The titanium fragments that caused a nuclear waste drum to throw off sparks at Los Alamos National Laboratory earlier this year are prohibited at the underground disposal site near Carlsbad and never should have been packed, according to a federal report. Managers at both the lab and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) failed to screen out the titanium, which is on WIPP’s list of prohibited materials, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in its most recent report.

Santa Fe New Mexican [Author: Scott Wyland]

“This Is Slow Murder”

I always thought it was a little cruel to call New Jersey the Garden State. We’re famous for our pollution. The state has more Superfund sites than any other, 114, and I grew up near four of them in Newark, a particular nexus for toxic filth. The tap water is often poisonous. Our industrial zone has several waste management and processing plants.

Slate [Author: Aymann Ismail]

The Teeny, Tiny Scientific Screwup That Helped COVID-19 Kill

There was just one literally tiny problem: “The physics of it is all wrong,” Linsey Marr says. That much seemed obvious to her from everything she knew about how things move through air. Reality is far messier, with particles much larger than 5 microns staying afloat and behaving like aerosols, depending on heat, humidity, and airspeed. The error meant that the medical community had a distorted picture of how people might get sick.

Wired [Author: Megan Molteni]

The Next Global Disaster Is on Its Way, and We Aren’t Ready

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but it is already clear that Lord Rees, Britain’s astronomer royal, has won his 2017 bet with the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker that “bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event within a six-month period starting no later than Dec. 31, 2020.”

Bloomberg [Author: Niall Ferguson]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Pain in the Nation: How High Rates of Suicide, Alcohol, and Overdose Deaths Require a Comprehensive Resiliency Strategy

Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust is hosting a virtual Congressional briefing on the soon to be released update in their Pain in the Nation report series. Over the past decade more than one million Americans have died from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Now this trend has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragmented health system, and social and community conditions. The meeting will be held May 19 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

The Role of Social Determinants of Health as They Relate to Emotional Well-Being Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic How Right Now Campaign – Webinar

The Journal of Emergency Management is hosting a webinar on May 19 at 1:00 p.m. ET looking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDC Foundation’s How Right Now campaign. Specifically, the webinar will discuss the relationship between Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and COVID-19-related emotional well-being.

Meeting Registration

National Environmental Justice Conference: Federal Title VI and Environmental Justice Priorities

The National Environmental Justice Conference, Inc. will present the first in its series of virtual workshops and training programs on May 20 at 10:00-11:30 a.m. ET. This session will be a panel discussion with Federal civil rights offices engaged in Title VI enforcement and compliance work related to environmental and health programs receiving federal financial assistance.

Meeting Registration

Achieving Health Equity: What’s Next?

The National Institute for Health Care Management (NICHM) Foundation is hosting the webinar Achieving Health Equity: What’s Next? on May 21st at 2:00 p.m. ET. Leaders in public health will discuss key issues that harm health in America’s Indigenous, Black and Latino communities, as well as possible policy solutions.

Meeting Registration

Essential Issues Around COVID-19 Vaccines for Vulnerable Populations

Seeking to respond to critical gaps in knowledge and provide resources necessary to respond to the pandemic, Migrant Clinician Network (MCN) has developed an educational series in Spanish on COVID-19 vaccines for Community Health Workers. This series consists of four sessions and will provide resources and training to combat myths about vaccines, address clinical questions about the available vaccines, discuss the impact of vaccines on the workplace, and to explore the mental health implications of COVID-19. The sessions are through May 25-June 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Exploring the Future of Worker Health and Safety in the Post-Pandemic World

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Expanding Research Partnerships Webinar Series is hosting a webinar on the occupational safety and health challenges facing workers in the post-pandemic world. The speakers with include Gary Childress, Oil States Energy Services, Barbara Dawson, DuPont, Brian Fielkow, JetCo, and Paul Riley, Agriculture Safety and Health Council of America. The webinar will be held on June 9 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Stigma of Addiction Summit

The National Academy of Medicine, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, and Shatterproof are pleased to announce the Stigma of Addiction Summit on June 10. It is a half-day, virtual, action-oriented summit entirely dedicated to understanding, addressing, and eliminating the harmful impacts of stigma on people who use drugs. The goal of the Summit is to elevate current efforts at reducing stigma, identifying successes and gaps in the evidence base, and prioritizing and identifying areas for future research.

Meeting Registration

SRP Risk Communication Strategies to Reduce Exposures and Improve Health

This virtual workshop on June 21-22, sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), will bring together SRP grantees, partners, and colleagues to discuss strategies to communicate potential health risks with the goals of preventing and reducing exposures, and improving health.

Meeting Information

Save the *NEW* Dates for Brownfields 2021!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA are committed to ensuring the National Brownfields Training Conference provides the best networking and learning environment possible for the brownfields community. Several considerations were made related to the current, and anticipated, COVID-19 situation. The event has been rescheduled from its September dates to December 8-11, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Inslee Signs Worker Protection Legislative Package in Yakima

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a package of bills that will increase worker safety protections, expand support for frontline workers during a public health emergency and grant overtime protections for farmworkers. Among bills signed was governor-requested legislation House Bill 1097, sponsored by State Representative Mike Sells, to protect workers who come forward about workplace hazards.

Governor’s Office

House OKs Limits on Firefighting Foam With PFAS

Legislation to tighten requirements on the use of firefighting foam with per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including a statewide ban on its use in training, passed the North Carolina House last week in a 112-0 vote. House Bill 355 represents the first legislated restrictions on the use of PFAS in the state.

Coastal Review [Author: Kirk Ross]

Gov. Wolf Signs 14th Renewal of Opioid Disaster Declaration

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the 14th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic. This declaration was the first of its kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania that proves to be an important tool to allow the state to respond quickly, adapt to developing needs, increase access to treatment and save lives.

Governor’s Office

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

OSHA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Rule to Update Hazard Communication Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the comment period for the proposed rule to update the agency's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to May 19. OSHA extended the comment period by 30 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the proposed rule and collect information and data necessary for comment.


EPA EJ Small Grants and Collaborative Problem-Solving Grants Extended to June 1

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates the potential for additional funds up to approximately $10.5 million to be made available through the 2021 Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants and EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving funding opportunities along with the original amount of EJ funds. These potential additional funds can be used for COVID-19 projects specifically to address clean air issues and/or training for a safe drinking water workforce.

EJ Small Grants

EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving

CSB Adopts Report on Deadly Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Release

On May 4, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) adopted a final report on an October 26, 2019, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) release at the Aghorn Operating waterflood station in Odessa, Texas. The toxic gas release fatally injured an Aghorn employee who was working at the facility, as well as his spouse, who attempted to locate him at the facility after he did not return home.

EHS Today [Author: Guy Burdick]

Expert Recommendations on Nuclear Waste May Fall on Deaf Ears – Yet Again

The process of siting a permanent repository is as slow as plutonium decay. The United States Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) just put out six overarching recommendations for the Department of Energy’s nuclear waste management program. These are to help in the development of a successful deep geologic repository program.

NWTRB Recommendations

Forbes [Author: James Conca]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIEHS/DOE Nuclear Worker Training Program Annual Report Now Available

The NIEHS/U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Worker Training Program annual report for program year Sept. 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020, is now available. The report includes grantee responses to COVID-19. Grantee activities reflect the impacts and necessary adjustments for the pandemic, including the introduction of infectious disease curricula. It also highlights work in partnering with DOE site contractors.

NIEHS/DOE Annual Report

ACGIH COVID-19 Resources

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has many COVID-19 resources available. In 2020, they formed the Pandemic Response Task Force. Led by Dr. Lisa Brosseau, the task force began compiling resources and producing fact sheets to highlight the importance of infectious aerosol inhalation and describe tools for prioritizing risks and selecting appropriate controls.


Materials from the Environmental Justice and Natural Disasters/COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Meetings Now Available

The Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Environmental Justice (EJ) EJ and Natural Disaster Subcommittee has been hosting virtual town hall meetings in 2021. The Town Hall Meetings helped participants gain a better understanding of how natural disasters and COVID-19 impact minority, low-income, and underserved communities, and how the federal government can better provide support to prepare and respond to their needs.


Want to Assess Worker’s Health? NIOSH Has New Tool

In order to help employers understand well-being and design interventions to achieve well- being, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NISOH) announced on April 9 the Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ). The NIOSH WellBQ is guided by the worker well-being framework external icon designed by NIOSH and the RAND Corporation.

EHS Today

New Training Tool: Building Programs to Protect Workers from COVID-19 in the Workplace, Replaces the Essential and Returning Worker Training Tool

Among other additions and revisions, the updated version adds the following: an icebreaker to gauge participants’ concerns, a graphic illustrating transmission, information on asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission, new slide on vaccines, information on portable air cleaners, data on mental health effects during COVID-19, new slides on ventilation filtration, and a slide on the use of ultraviolet light to disinfect air.

WTP COVID-19 Resources Page

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 is also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

OSHA Seeks Safety Instructor

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Office of Training and Education is seeking applications for a Safety Instructor (Safety and Occupational Health Specialist) for the Occupational Safety Training Branch. This position serves as a senior instructor and highly qualified occupational safety specialist responsible for teaching general industry related subjects. The deadline to apply is June 1.

Job Posting

NIHB Public Health Project Coordinator (Emergency Preparedness)

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) seeks an experienced public health professional to work on current and future public health projects and initiatives. The position will have a focus on emergency preparedness and response and will work with a Public Health Program Manager, Director and Deputy Director of Public Health Policy and Programs Department to coordinate NIHB’s response to current and future public health threats and emergencies, such as COVID-19.

Job Posting

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