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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: November 8, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, November 8, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

November 8, 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

Updated FAQs Available for NIEHS Worker Training Program Funding Opportunities

NIEHS recently (November 5) updated the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs) documents to the two available funding opportunities: Hazardous Materials Worker Health and Safety Training, and HAZMAT Training at DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex.


Final Report on the Opioid Training Materials Development Initiative

A new report describes the first phase of the NIEHS Worker Training Program’s (WTP) opioid training materials development initiative. This comprehensive report includes findings from a needs assessment and gap analysis, where WTP and the National Clearinghouse analyzed the status of existing guidelines and training courses specific to opioids in the workplace. The report also includes conclusions and recommendations based on pilot training sessions conducted using the new “Opioids and the Workplace: Prevention and Response” training tool in Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and West Virginia. WTP plans to continue engaging with stakeholders and developing materials to address issues surrounding opioids in the workplace. The second phase of the initiative will involve several activities, including outcome-specific evaluation of the pilot trainings and development of train-the-trainer and leadership modules. Stay tuned for more information!


The Changing Face of the US Opioid Epidemic: Middle-Aged Black Adults See Rise in Deaths

About 48,000 people lost their lives to opioids in 2017, the latest year for which complete data is available, according to a new study. Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, accounted for almost two-thirds of those deaths. In large metropolitan areas, black adults saw the largest increases in rates of drug overdose deaths involving opioids and synthetic opioids, with rates increasing 103% and 361% respectively, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN [Author: Jen Christensen]

Bill Protecting Firefighters from PFAS Clears Senate Panel

A bill seeking to limit first responders’ exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals in firefighting foam and heat-proof gear is lining up for a Senate floor vote after getting approval from a committee on Nov. 6. The bill, S. 2353, would task the Federal Emergency Management Agency with developing guidance to protect firefighters and other first responders from exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill unanimously.

Bloomberg Environment [Author: Sylvia Carignan]

New Focus on Firefighter Cancer: Baltimore-Area Departments Say They Recognize the Risk and Are Making Changes

A federal firefighter cancer registry is in the works to help scientists monitor the disease and trace links between firefighters’ exposures to carcinogens and incidence of cancer. Maryland recently expanded workers’ compensation protections for firefighters. Local fire departments in Maryland say they are trying to reduce their personnel’s exposure to carcinogens by funding new equipment and changing policies. Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters had a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and 14% higher risk of dying from it.

The Washington Post [Author: Alison Knezevich]

Health Officer Issues Emergency Order for Reentering Burn Area

An emergency order that forbids residents reentering the area of the Kincade Fire from cleaning their property has been issued by the Sonoma County Health Officer. Exposure to hazardous substances can lead to long-term public health and environmental risks, particularly from inhaled dust particles and contaminated drinking water. Property owners and others in the fire area are advised that they "should not enter the burn footprint of structures without Personal Protective Equipment, such as protective eyewear, gloves and long sleeves and pants, and closed-toe footwear, such as boots."

Bay City News

Dozens of Bags of Radioactive Waste Still Missing in Fukushima Three Weeks After Intense Typhoon

Dozens of bags containing waste polluted with radioactive substances are still missing in Fukushima Prefecture, three weeks after they were swept away from storage areas in floods triggered by Typhoon Hagibis. Of the 90 bags originally lost, 36 remain missing. The Environment Ministry, prefectural officials and others are conducting extensive searches but so far they have not had much luck.

The Japan Times

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Preparations for the 38th session of the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct a public meeting on Nov. 12 at 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C. to discuss proposals in preparation for the 38th session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS) to be held Dec. 11 – Dec. 13 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Meeting Registration

Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals Training Program

Employers have a responsibility under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) 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

ATSDR Webinar: Preliminary Findings From a Systematic Review of Chronic Environmental Contamination, Psychosocial Stress, and Community Resilience

This Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) sponsored webinar will be held Nov. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET. Daniel Sullivan, Ph.D., University of Arizona, will present preliminary findings from a systematic literature review: “Chronic Environmental Contamination: Psychosocial Health Consequences, Risk Factors, and Pathways to Community Resilience.” The literature review is part of ATSDR’s Community Stress Resilience project. This community-engaged project is developing new tools, resources, and strategies to build stress resilience in communities affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other contaminants.

Webinar 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

How to Prepare for Natural Disasters: A Pre-Disaster Toolkit for Small- to Medium-Size Communities

Prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Urban Waters Federal Partnership, the toolkit was developed to help small- to medium-size communities jump-start their natural disaster planning process. The toolkit is divided into two sections – one for local government officials, including Emergency Management Coordinators (EMCs), utility district managers, and local elected officials, and a section for community residents.

Urban Waters Learning Network

Pollution, Climate Change and the Global Burden of Disease

Recent estimates in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study show that the combination of air pollution, poor water sanitation and exposure to lead and radon is responsible for 9 million premature deaths each year. In a new paper, researchers highlight key challenges that limit the scope and accuracy of current GBD estimates for environmental health risk factors and propose strategies to clarify the true environmental footprint on health from chemical pollution and climate change.

Environmental Health News [Author: Ashlie Chandler]

EPA Proposal Seeks to Reduce Pesticide Area of Responsibility for Farmers

A proposed update to a federal worker protection rule on pesticide application could make it easier for farmers to protect their crops but could also harm agricultural workers on neighboring land. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard that would modify the pesticide application exclusion zone, or the area surrounding equipment during pesticide application, so that it is applicable and enforceable only on a farmer’s own property.

Indiana Environmental Reporter [Author: Enrique Saenz]

When Disaster Strikes, Indigenous Communities Receive Unequal Recovery Aid

In the last decade, more than 70 natural disasters have occurred on tribal lands, with some communities being hit more than once a year. According to an analysis from the Center for Public Integrity, tribal nations were on average more vulnerable than the U.S. overall during the same period, based on measures such as unemployment and income. Yet, in the span of one year, they receive less than half of what the Department of Homeland Security grants states for recovery efforts daily. Data from the National Congress of American Indians show that U.S. citizens receive, on average, about $26 per person, per year, from the federal government, while tribal citizens receive approximately $3 per person, per year.

The Center for Public Integrity [Author: Allison Herrera]

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Respiratory Health Cross-Sector Council

Faces of Work-related COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) is an impact video series that is part of a National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Respiratory Health Cross-Sector Council initiative. There are four short videos that include a physician explaining what the disease is and interviews with patients diagnosed with work-related COPD who discuss work exposures, their quality of life having the disease, and ways to minimize the risks of getting the disease.


Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

FEMA National Response Framework, Fourth Edition Released

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released an updated National Response Framework. The National Response Framework is a guide to how the nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities across the nation. This fourth edition expands principles and concepts to better integrate government and private sector response efforts and introduces the community lifelines concept and terminology.


NIOSH Announces Crowdsourcing Competition on Using AI to Streamline Worker Safety and Health Data

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has started an open competition for artificial intelligence programmers as part of a search for ways to automate data processing in occupational safety and health surveillance systems. NIOSH, in conjunction with the NASA Tournament Lab and a crowdsourcing vendor, is asking programmers to develop an algorithm that uses AI to read the injury reports and code them according to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System.

Safety and Health Magazine

EPA Publishes Draft Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride

On Oct. 29 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the draft Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for methylene chloride. As reported in the Oct. 25 memorandum, EPA is submitting the same document to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) for peer review. SACC will convene an in-person public meeting to consider and review the draft risk evaluation on Dec. 3-4.

National Law Review

EPA Moves to Rollback Coal Power Plant Waste Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Nov. 4 said it plans to loosen Obama-era regulations on toxic waste storage at coal-fired power plants. The 2015 regulations aimed to crack down on how power plants store and dispose of coal ash, which is what is left after coal is burned. Coal ash, which is typically mixed into water and stored in waste ponds, can contain mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals. Under the EPA’s new proposed rule, coal plants would have until August 2020 to stop storing coal ash in unlined waste ponds.

U.S. News & World Report [Author: Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Worker Training Program Tackles Opioid Misuse and Addiction

The NIEHS WTP has released a course designed to address the immense challenge of opioids in the workplace. Jonathan Rosen, a consultant for WTP’s National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training, led the effort to create the comprehensive program. He served for 22 years as director of the Occupational Health and Safety Department for the New York State Public Employees Federation. Today, Rosen helps labor unions, government agencies, and other organizations solve occupational safety and industrial hygiene problems.

Environmental Factor [Author: Ernie Hood]

CPWR Three New Resources for Managing Use of Nanomaterials

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released three new resources on nanomaterials. Much thinner than a human hair, engineered and manufactured nanomaterials are increasingly used in construction. When workers cut, grind, sand, or disturb such products, dust containing the nanomaterial gets into the air that workers breathe, possibly creating hazards. The three new Toolbox Talks help the construction industry manage these potential dangers: Identifying Nano-Enabled Construction Materials, Introduction: Nano-Enabled Construction Materials, and Prevent Exposure: Nano-Enabled Construction Materials.


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

Job OpeningsBack to Top

Casa Latina Seeks Development & Communications Director

Casa Latina is a social justice organization that advances the power and well-being of Latino immigrants through employment, education, and community organizing. The Development & Communications Director (DCD) is responsible for raising and growing revenue to fund Casa Latina’s mission and programs, including a model, day labor worker center. The DCD leads fundraising and communications strategy, managing and executing on diverse revenue streams and powerfully telling the story of Casa Latina’s impact to a broad audience.

Job Announcement

BGA Seeks Policy Advisor

The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) seeks qualified candidates for the position of Policy Advisor in their Washington, D.C. office. The Policy Advisor will be responsible for designing, coordinating, and implementing legislative and policy efforts around core organizational issues. The Policy Advisor will work in close coordination with BGA national staff and BGA partner organizations to develop and implement BGA’s policy and legislative agenda on a variety of issues, including clean vehicles and technology, manufacturing, trade, and other BGA priorities.

Job Posting

CPWR Announces Career Opportunities

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) supports construction safety and health research and drives efforts to put research findings into practice on job sites. CPWR is currently looking to fill various positions in program support, communications, and research. This includes a full-time Program Assistant opportunity within their Opioid-Related Harms initiative. CPWR is undertaking a new set of activities to address the high rate of opioid-related deaths among construction workers.


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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