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NIEHS WTP: November 1, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, November 1, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

November 1, 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.

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

Philly Refinery Fire Shows Why EPA Must Not Cut Regulations, Say 13 Attorneys General, Including Pa., N.J.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 12 other state attorneys general sent a letter Monday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging it to scrap a proposed rollback of an accident prevention rule in light of the most recent revelation about the blast at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery earlier this year. The explosion released two tons of potentially deadly hydrofluoric acid, according to a U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) report released Oct. 16. The blast also hurled metal shrapnel the size of a bus across the Schuylkill.

Philadelphia Inquirer [Author: Frank Kummer]

Report: ITC Did Not Have Emergency Shutoff Valve or Alarm Before Massive Blaze

Thousands of gallons of a highly flammable hazardous chemical spilled for nearly 30 minutes before catching fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Co. tank farm in Deer Park, but the facility did not have a remote emergency shutoff valve nor an alarm to alert workers, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The federal agency’s preliminary report is the first to provide a glimpse of what happened inside the chemical storage facility since a March 17 blaze sent a plume of black smoke into the skies that could be seen from 30 miles away, forced a three-day shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel and created 20 million gallons of waste.

Houston Chronicle [Author: Perla Trevizo]

Indiana Agency: Steelmaker Too Slow to Act on Chemical Spill

The state environmental agency said a northwestern Indiana steel mill knew it was leaking dangerous chemicals into Lake Michigan but failed to report the spill or act quickly to mitigate the risks. The cyanide and ammonia spill in August at the ArcelorMittal plant in Burns Harbor closed beaches and killed nearly 3,000 fish. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management announced this week that the steel mill didn't report the Aug. 4 malfunction for days, by which time ammonia-nitrogen levels in the water had spiked.

Associated Press

Seven Years Later, How Sandy Impacted the Health of Long Islanders

Superstorm Sandy cost Long Islanders dearly with their health. And, seven years later, they're still paying — both financially and emotionally. A new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the University of California-San Francisco puts Sandy's health-related losses for the Island at $156.4 million, a total that researchers arrived at by sifting through numbers from government, the Red Cross and other studies. But the environmental scientists behind the report believe the total dollar amount probably is much higher because of illnesses never directly linked to the storm and the incalculable toll that stress can take.

Newsday [Author: Craig Schneider]

How Cities Are Rebuilding to Be More Resilient to Natural Disasters

Even after experiencing the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, residents wanted to stay in their neighborhoods– going so far as to fight the city’s controversial “green dot” plan, which would have abandoned neighborhoods and turned them into wetlands. In response to the pushback, New Orleans came up with an alternate solution: allow residents to remain in their homes, but also retrofit the area’s landscape to help the neighborhood better withstand the next natural disaster. The plan included new ditches, rain barrels and dry creeks designed to hold substantial amounts of water and reduce runoff that could destroy homes and other property.

PBS News Hour

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

COEH Effective, Interactive Training for Workers Webinar

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a webinar on Nov. 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT. This webinar will explore how adults learn best, the five steps to develop a training plan, and how to incorporate meaningful interaction within training activities. Participants will also learn how to adapt materials and activities for low-literacy participants, and will identify resources for multi-lingual, interactive training materials on occupational safety and health.

Webinar Details

Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals Training Program

Employers have a responsibility under OSHA’s HazCom Standard to educate and train employees about the chemicals they work with and how to protect themselves from any potential hazards. The New Jersey Work Environment Council is hosting an interactive workshop, which will discuss: Assessing chemical hazards and understanding safety data sheets; OSHA’s HazCom standard; and identifying safety system failures. The workshop will be held Nov. 15 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET.

Workshop Registration

2019 EPA International Decontamination Research and Development Conference

This conference is designed to facilitate presentation, discussion, further collaboration on research and development, and application of tools and research focused on an all-hazards approach to cleaning up contaminated buildings (both interior and exterior), infrastructure, and other areas/materials. The conference continues to focus strongly on matters involving chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) threat agents, but also includes all hazard elements. The conference brings together researchers, first responders, community leaders and planners, and industry. It will be held Nov. 19-21 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Conference Details

National Conference on Worker Safety and Health

The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON19) brings together a diverse, inclusive and bilingual group of participants of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists and academics united around common goals. The conference aims to empower workers, make workplaces safer and reduce the toll of on-the-job injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The conference will take place Dec. 3-5 in Baltimore.

Conference Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Exposure to Disinfectants, Cleaning Products Linked to COPD Risk Among Female Nurses

Regular use of chemical disinfectants among female nurses was found to be a potential risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published last week in JAMA Network Open. COPD is the third leading cause of mortality worldwide and among the diseases contributing the most to disability-adjusted life-years, noted the study authors. While tobacco smoke is the leading risk factor for COPD, occupational exposures have been found to additionally contribute to incidence rates.

AJMC [Author: Matthew Gavidia]

Bridging the Gap Between the Under-Privileged and Preparedness

Earlier this year, the American Red Cross held its first annual Disaster Preparedness Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. What they envisioned as a small gathering of emergency managers ended up as a cavalcade of EM professionals of all stripes converging for a conversation on the state of preparedness in the National Capital Region and beyond. In addition to emergency managers, there were representatives from academia; the medical community; the private sector; local, county and state governments; police, fire and EMS; and of course the Armed Forces.

Government Technology [Author: Charisma Williams]

DOI Says It Preempts OSHA on Worker Safety Oversight for Offshore Renewable Energy Facilities

The Department of the Interior (DOI) – not the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – will oversee workplace safety and health at offshore renewable energy facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf, according to a policy statement published in the Oct. 18 Federal Register. An Oct. 17 press release from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement states that DOI has leased about 1.7 million acres of the OCS for the development of offshore wind energy facilities, and its 15 active leases are in the Atlantic Ocean – from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

Safety and Health Magazine

The Drug Overdose Epidemic Affects All Communities

A new National Institutes of Health analysis of drug overdose deaths shows that the epidemic is huge and national, affecting people of all racial and ethnic groups, in cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural areas, and rates of drug overdose are rising among almost all groups. This aspect of the epidemic has gotten a lot of attention, because the rate has been increasing so quickly. However, it is not the whole story of the drug overdose epidemic.

The Lancet Public Health

How Japan Still Struggles With the Fukushima Nuclear Waste

It’s been more than eight years since the nuclear disaster occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Yet even to this day, the Japanese government is struggling with the issue of nuclear cleanup, waste disposal and storage. Earlier this month, Typhoon Hagibis swept across the Kanto region of Honshu, leading to deadly floods and landslides across the area. The Asahi Shimbun reported that a temporary repository where some 2,667 bags of highly radioactive nuclear cleanup waste collected from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were stored was completely flooded.

EJ Insight [Author: Kenji Cheung]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

OSHA Hits Waukegan Company With $1.6 million Fine for ‘Ignoring Safety and Health Requirements’ Prior to Fatal Silicone Plant Explosion

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a silicone company $1.6 million for alleged safety violations in the wake of an explosion that killed four employees at a Waukegan plant earlier this year. Specialty Silicones LLC was cited for “12 willful federal safety violations” following an investigation into the May 3 explosion. The company faces $1.591 million in penalties, according to a statement released by OSHA officials.

The Chicago Tribune [Author: Jim Newton]

U.S. Department of Labor Statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapons Program Workers

The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs Director Julia Hearthway issued a statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapons Program Workers. The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act provides lump-sum compensation and medical benefits to current and former nuclear weapons workers whose illness is the result of working in the nuclear weapons industry. The program has paid more than $378 million in compensation and medical benefits to claimants living in Texas, and more than $16.9 billion nationwide.


EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Releases the Seventh Update to the Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List, Helping to Accelerate Progress at Sites Across the Country

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the seventh update to the Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action. In this latest update, the Universal Oil Products site in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the Arsenic Mine in the Town of Kent, New York, were removed from the list, and two sites were added: The DePue (New Jersey Zinc) site in the Village of DePue, Illinois; and the Carter Carburetor site in St. Louis, Missouri.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIEHS Wildfire Resources and Disaster Preparedness App

The NIEHS WTP and its awardees have provided resources and training in support of wildfire response operations in the United States. These resources are aimed at protecting the health and safety of those responding to wildfires. The NIEHS/CPWR Disaster Preparedness mobile app, which includes information on wildfires, allows workers exposed to hazards on disaster sites to access a full suite of awareness-level training resources.

NIEHS Wildfire Response Training Tool and Resources

NIEHS/CPWR Disaster Preparedness App

Silica Dust Reduction Through Hollow Bit Drill Ventilation

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) published a key finding on silica dust. Commercial construction workers frequently drill 1–3 cm diameter holes into concrete for structural upgrades (e.g., dowel and rod drilling) and for inserting anchor bolts for hanging pipes, conduit, or equipment. Industrial construction projects may require drilling thousands of these holes, work that can generate concentrations of respirable silica dust well in excess of the ACGIH Threshold Limit Value.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

MassCOSH Seeks Full-Time Health and Safety Trainer and Worker Center Organizer

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to ensure that all workers are treated with respect and dignity, earn a fair wage and return home to their families alive and well. MassCOSH is hiring a health and safety trainer and a worker center organizer. The Health and Safety Trainer helps to lead MassCOSH in meeting its goals for providing worker-oriented training, building the regional health and safety movement and developing working relationships with labor, environmental organizations, government and business. The Worker Center Organizer will provide training and support organizing and advocacy efforts of immigrant workers seeking to address unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions, discrimination, wage and hour violations, etc.

Health and Safety Trainer Position

Worker Center Organizer Position

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