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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: May 28, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, May 28, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

May 28, 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

Evaluation of COVID-19 Training and Virtual Learning Webinar Recording Is Now Available

Representatives of four WTP awardee organizations discuss evaluation methods used, key findings, and lessons learned from the evaluation of their COVID-19 Training and Virtual Learning. Speakers discussed: Distance learning evaluation: comparison with in-person and transfer of knowledge to the workplace; Evaluation of virtual COVID-19 training and future cross-grantee impact study; Development of a new evaluation protocol and forms to reflect online training and Minimum Criteria updates; and Assessment of nurses use of training on the Aerosol Transmission Standard to push for stronger worksite protections.


WTP Spring Awardee Meeting and Workshop Materials Are Now Available

The WTP Spring Awardee Meeting and Workshop, "Using Best Practices to Sustain Training Programs During COVID-19 and Other Disasters," was held in April 2021. While we heard many stories of challenges and frustration during the COVID-19 pandemic, people adapted to overcome gaps in worker training and protection. The workshop reviewed the best practices of WTP, awardees, and partnering organizations to sustain training programs during COVID-19 and other disaster preparedness and response efforts. Presentations are now available. Recordings will be coming soon.


COVID-19 Materials Available from California Dept. of Public Health

The Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has developed a collection of COVID-19 digital tools that include English and Spanish social media graphics, comic book, fotonovela formats, videos, and a "scrollable story" of a worker facing COVID-19 at work.


Chemical Safety Board Faces House Probe on Investigation Backlog

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board for information regarding the agency’s ongoing management, resource, and personnel challenges, which have resulted in a growing backlog of probes into chemical accidents.

Bloomberg [Author: Fatima Hussein]

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Two Years After Disastrous Chemical Fire, Texas Close to Creating New Safety Rules for Industry

In March 2019, a massive chemical fire broke out after a leak at a chemical tank farm in Deer Park spread to almost a dozen other tanks. A plume of smoke soon loomed over the Houston skyline and lingered there for three days. Residents of Deer Park were forced to shelter in place due to air pollution hazards, the Houston Ship Channel closed for three days, and millions of gallons of hazardous waste spilled on the ground and leaked into the water.

Texas Tribune [Author: Erin Douglas]

'Next Steps' For Nuclear Waste Storage Strategy Teased by Energy Secretary

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said she and others are invested in finding a near-term answer to the nation's nuclear waste conundrum, describing the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada as "not a workable solution." Instead, Granholm said in testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, officials are now pursuing a strategy for a consent-based interim storage facility.

Yahoo! News [Author: Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard]

EPA, DEP Reassessing High Kanawha Cancer Risks from Air Toxics After Review of Union Carbide Emissions

“Odors, explosions, the sheltering in place,” said Nixon, 69, of South Charleston, a lifelong Kanawha County resident and 15-year former environmental advocate for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. “That’s what we live under.” But the chemical commanding attention from federal and state environmental regulators for driving some of the highest total cancer risks in the country has loomed over the valley quietly.

WV Gazette [Author: Mike Tony]

As Hurricane Season Looms, Biden Doubles Funding to Prepare for Extreme Weather

President Biden announced that he was doubling the amount of money the U.S. government will spend helping communities get set for extreme weather events, proclaiming the need for full readiness as he visited government workers and told them to prepare for another season of natural disasters.

New York Times [Author: Christopher Flavelle]

New York Is Creating Safety Standards for Future Public Health Crises. Will Other States Follow Suit?

As coronavirus cases dwindle and vaccination rates climb, New York is enacting a law that establishes workplace safety standards for future public health crises. The Empire State's legislation should prompt employers operating elsewhere to keep watch for safety developments at the state and federal levels, Fisher Phillips Partner Todd B. Logsdon said.

HR Dive [Author: Katie Clarey]

Labor Law: Virginia Employers Need to Comply with Workplace Safety Rules Which Conflict with the CDC And Governor’s Order

Ever since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced unexpectedly that vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear a mask in most settings, employers have questioned how those changes apply to their workplaces and workers. In Virginia, it is a little more complicated because a permanent standard issued earlier this year by the state’s Health and Safety Codes Board has not been rescinded. [Author: Karen Michael]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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 will 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

OSHA Issues a Notice of Informal Hearing to Discuss Updates to the Agency's Hazard Communication Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a notice of informal hearing on the agency's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The hearing will begin Sept. 21, at 10 a.m., ET, and will be held virtually. If necessary, the hearing will continue from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. ET. Additional information on how to access the informal hearing will be posted on OSHA's Proposed Rulemaking to Amend the Hazard Communication Standard webpage.

Meeting Information

Save the 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

Mask Guidance

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its public health recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals, including guidance on when people can safely resume normal activities without wearing a mask. The following message guidance is based on the new CDC recommendations. When developing messaging, state and local health officials should also consider local scenarios and transmission rates.

Public Health Collaborative

Current Intelligence Bulletin 70: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assessed potential health risk from occupational exposure to silver nanomaterials by evaluating more than 100 studies of silver nanomaterials in animals or cells. In studies that involved human cells, silver nanomaterials were associated with toxicity (cell death and DNA damage) that varied according to the size of the particles.


Proposing a Social Ecological Approach to Address Disparities in Occupational Exposures and Health for Low-Wage and Minority Workers Employed in Small Businesses

Occupational disease and injuries are the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S. Low-wage and minority workers are more likely to work in hazardous industries and are thus at greater risk. The article describes work-related health risks and reviews current research on occupational and social ecological approaches to improving the health of minority and low-wage workers primarily employed by small businesses.

Nature Journal

New Mexico Weighs Changes to Permit for Nuclear Waste Dump

U.S. officials are pushing state regulators to clear the way for a new ventilation shaft to be built at the federal government's nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico, but watchdog groups say modifying the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's permit to allow for the construction could open the door to expansion.


The Biggest Winner in Green Jobs? Construction, Report Says

A new report from the environmental nonprofit Climate XChange suggests that every million dollars invested into green industries could create 14 jobs in Massachusetts — nearly double what the state’s 10 largest industries combined create. And the biggest winner may be the construction industry.

WBUR [Author: Jesse Remedios]

Washington Creates New Farmworker Safety Team

The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries is creating a new team aimed at improving farmworker safety. When fully staffed, the agriculture compliance unit will create 16 new positions, the Yakima Herald reported. Thirteen of those posts will focus on agriculture worksite inspection and safety complaints. Three will work on education and outreach to farm operators and employees, according to a news release.

Insurance Journal

A Zombie-Fire Outbreak May Be Growing in the North

A new analysis in the journal Nature quantifies their extent for the first time, and shows what conditions are most likely to make the fires reanimate. Using satellite data and reports from the ground, researchers developed an algorithm that could detect where over a decade's worth of fires—dozens in total—burned in Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories, snowed over, and ignited again in the spring. Basically, they correlated burn scars with nearby areas where a new fire ignited later on.


Seaboard Foods Fails in Attempt to Delay U.S. Hog Slaughter Limits

A U.S. judge has denied Seaboard Foods’ attempt to delay a federal court decision that would force the nation’s second-biggest pig producer to slow the speed of hog slaughtering at a massive Oklahoma pork plant, according to court records. Seaboard in April sought to pursue a 10-1/2-month delay to the decision after U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in Minnesota ruled against a Trump administration policy.


Former Kentucky Coal Miner Launches Solar Energy Business to Help Economy and Environment

Parts of the U.S. that once thrived from the business of coal are now some of the most impoverished in the country. But one former coal miner is working to bring jobs to his community and mitigate the environmental impacts of coal through solar power. CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli reports for the new series "Climate Changemakers."

CBS News

OH&S SafetyPod: Wearables in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

On this episode of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) SafetyPod, Editor Sydny Shepard interviews Emanuele Cauda and John Snawder, both professionals working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH. They discuss many of the topics you might be wondering about when it comes to wearables.

Occupational Health and Safety Online

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Request for Information on Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern for the National Emerging Contaminant Research Initiative

NIEHS on behalf of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, requests input from all interested parties on research needed to identify, analyze, monitor, and mitigate drinking water contaminants of emerging concern. Comments provided through this Request for Information will inform the development of a National Emerging Contaminant Research Initiative. The comment period closes June 24.

Federal Register

EPA National Enforcement Mission May Be Compromised by Staffing, Safety Concerns

In a report dated May 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training and its National Enforcement Investigations Center continue to struggle with safety concerns and staffing constraints, which may jeopardize the offices’ ability to achieve their mission of holding criminal polluters accountable for their actions.

EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Lisa Whitley Coleman]


CSB Releases Final Report into 2019 Hydrogen Sulfide Release at the Aghorn Operating Waterflood Station in Odessa, Texas

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report and associated materials into the October 26, 2019, hydrogen sulfide release at the Aghorn Operating waterflood station in Odessa, Texas. The Aghorn investigation file can now be located in the Closed Investigations section of the CSB’s website.


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

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

AIHA Issues Guidance to Protect Volunteers from COVID-19 During Natural Disaster Response And ...

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) in the workplace and community, announced recommendations designed to protect unpaid natural disaster response volunteers from COVID-19. The free guidelines also provide volunteers with information about how volunteer organizations operate during a response to severe natural disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and more.


AIHA Guidance Document

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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