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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: November 18, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, November 20, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

November 20, 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 StoriesBack to Top

NOSI: Promoting Health, Safety, and Recovery Training for COVID-19 Essential Workers and their Communities

NIEHS published a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) for the purpose to provide support for successful applicants to develop partnerships with local worker centers and community organizations specifically targeting under served and disadvantaged communities with higher than average COVID-19 transmission rates. The deadline to apply is Dec. 30.


WTP National Clearinghouse Five Year Report Now Available

The NIEHS WTP National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training (National Clearinghouse) has delivered resources for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news on hazardous materials, waste operations, and emergency response. This report highlights the work completed during the last five years from 2015 to 2020.

National Clearinghouse Report

Shingle Mountain: How a Pile of Toxic Pollution Was Dumped in a Community of Color

Shingle Mountain is human-made — an environmental nightmare of discarded roofing shingles stretching more than a city block. Even though it’s an illegal toxic waste dump on the edge of a neighborhood, it took months of pressure to get city officials to even acknowledge its existence and finally make plans to take it down.

Washington Post [Author: Darryl Fears]

U.S. Nuclear Industry Group Sees Reprocessing as Potential Nuclear Waste Fix

The head of the top U.S. nuclear power group said that reprocessing of nuclear waste, a technique that has been banned since the 1970s on proliferation concerns, has potential to help address a growing problem building up at nuclear plants across the country.

Reuters [Author: Timothy Gardner]

Federal Watchdog Finds Coal Safety Regulator Not Protecting Miners From Silica Dust

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is not doing enough to protect coal miners from deadly silica dust, according to a new report from the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The IG found that MSHA’s standards for exposure to deadly silica dust were out of date, and MSHA lacked the ability to issue fines when coal companies violate air quality standards.

Ohio Valley Resource [Author: Sydney Boles]

OIG Report

Mold, Possums and Pools of Sewage: No One Should Have to Live Like This

A big part of Catherine Flower’s work now is educating people about rural poverty and environmental injustice — about how poor people around the United States are trapped in conditions no one else would put up with. Those conditions — polluted air, tainted water, untreated sewage — make people sick.

New York Times

Why Some Labor Unions Are Talking About Climate Change

Labor unions work on many different issues that affect their members – from trade and immigration to civil rights and public health. Michael Leon Guerrero, executive director of the Labor Network for Sustainability, says many unions are starting to talk about climate change.

Yale Climate Connections

Worker Advocacy Groups File Federal Complaint Against Iowa OSHA

Eight groups requested a federal investigation of what they said is Iowa Occupation Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) failure to respond to workplace safety complaints. Although the Complaint About State Program Administration (CASPA) addresses issues with Iowa OSHA from the past, the groups said conditions have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa Public Radio News [Author: Kassidy Arena]

'We're Working Without a Playbook': Researchers Study How People Respond to COVID-19

Fewer than half of people expect to contract the new coronavirus before the pandemic ends. These are among findings that disaster preparedness researchers at D’Youville College in Buffalo and the University at Albany released to The Buffalo News as part of an ongoing study in the states of New York, Louisiana and Washington focused on personal pandemic beliefs and practices.

Buffalo News [Author: Scott Scanlon]

‘No One Is Listening to Us’

Health-care workers do not have the luxury of looking away: They’re facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two. In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago.

The Atlantic [Author: Ed Yong]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in the Era of COVID-19: With a Special Focus on the Impact of the Pandemic on Communities of Color

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Forum on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders will host a free public virtual workshop: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in the Era of COVID-19: With a Special Focus on the Impact of the Pandemic on Communities of Color. The workshop will be free and open to the public via live webcast. Part One is on Nov. 23 at 1:00-3:00 p.m. and Part Two is on Dec. 3 at 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

A Nation Unprepared: Incomplete Implementation of the National Blueprint for Biodefense

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense will be hosting a virtual meeting on Nov. 30 from 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET. In its October 2015 bipartisan report the Commission stated that the Nation remains highly vulnerable to biological threats and made 33 recommendations to optimize U.S. efforts to prevent, deter, prepare for, detect, respond to, attribute, recover from, and mitigate intentionally introduced, accidentally released, and naturally occurring biological events.

Meeting Registration

National Conference on Worker Safety and Health Registration Is Open

The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON2020) is the only national gathering of its kind. It brings together a diverse, inclusive, and bilingual group of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists, and academics united around common goals. With a global pandemic, all of this matters more than ever, so COSHCON2020 is still on virtually on Dec. 1-3 and Dec 8-10.

Meeting Information

Data, Professional Judgment, and Modeling in Occupational Exposure Assessment Webinar

Exposure underestimates are a professional and ethical issue for Industrial Hygienists. This presentation, hosted by Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health, will discuss the lack of adequate monitoring data for decision-making in industrial hygiene (IH), the over-reliance on professional judgment, and the limitations of professional judgments. The webinar will be held Dec. 8 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

2020 National Opioid Leadership Summit

Join the Public Health Institute and Cleveland-based University Hospitals for a 2-Day Virtual Experience. Learn, share and collaborate with colleagues from across the country on real solutions to the opioid crisis that bridge criminal justice, health care and public health sectors. The Summit will be held Dec. 8-9, 2020.

Summit website and registration

Fatigue in the Workplace: Effects on Health and Performance and Measurement Considerations Webinar

A leading cause of non-fatal work injuries is overexertion and bodily reaction. What is less understood is the role fatigue plays as a contributing factor. Fatigue in the workplace is a multidimensional process that results in diminished worker performance and is often underappreciated and unrecognized. This webinar will present an overview of worker fatigue and how it may be defined, examine ramifications on worker health and performance, and identify measurement considerations. The webinar will be held Dec. 16 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Save the Date: Brownfields 2021 Dates Are Moving

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a networking and learning environment for the brownfields community. Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and having these considerations in mind, Brownfields 2021 will be rescheduled from its current April dates. Brownfields 2021 will now be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Sept. 27-30, 2021.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Resilient Businesses Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan Ready for Any Crisis. Here's What it Should Include

Businesses have undoubtedly learned many hard lessons this year, but maybe the biggest is the need to be prepared for anything at any time, even something as unprecedented as a pandemic. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in April, 34% of employers didn't have an emergency preparedness plan before the pandemic, and 53% of companies with a plan are revising them because of the coronavirus.

Business Insider [Author: Erica Sweeney]

National Academies Launch New COVID-19 Strategic Science Initiative

To help decision-makers navigate through this ongoing crisis and take actions toward a strong and sustained recovery, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have launched a new strategic science initiative to provide rapid, scenario-based analyses aimed at protecting critical societal functions, avoiding worst outcomes, and building upon potential opportunities.

National Academies [Author: Molly Galvin]

Crisis Within a Crisis: How COVID-19 Is Driving the Opioid Epidemic

While the current national health conversation has largely centered on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. alone and more than a million worldwide according to recent World Health Organization (WHO) data, another ongoing and deadly battle has been looming in the background: the opioid crisis.

Insurance Journal [Author: Elizabeth Blosfield]

Indiana Continues to Battle Opioid Epidemic

Indiana has launched a new program that provides medical professionals with information about how many opioid prescriptions they write compared with their peers. The hope is to eventually reduce the number of opioid prescriptions, members of the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse were told during a virtual meeting.

Washington Times Herald [Author: LaMonte Richardson Jr.]

NSC Names New Road Safety VP

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently named Mark Chung vice president of its Roadway Safety Practice. Chung most recently served as chief marketing officer and general manager at SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers), an engineering professionals association and standards-setting organization.

Safety BLR

Health Care Workers Fatigued; Hospital Patient Numbers Rising as Second COVID-19 Wave Hits Sioux City

As Sioux City hospitals grapple with a growing second wave of COVID-19 patients, their administrators are urging Siouxlanders to axe Thanksgiving celebrations with extended family members. Hospitalizations are matching the spring surge, which was driven by an outbreak among workers at Tyson Foods' Dakota City plant.

Sioux City Journal [Author: Dolly Butz]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

NIOSH Approves First Elastomeric Half Mask Respirator Without an Exhalation Valve

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is working to identify solutions to address exhalation valve concerns in both filtering facepiece respirators and elastomeric half mask respirators (EHMR). Several research studies are underway on this issue. In parallel with the NIOSH research on exhalation valves, manufacturers have been conducting research and development to produce an elastomeric respirator that addresses the exhalation valve concerns.


CDC Awards $1.5 Million for Research to Reduce Exposures to Workplace Hazards through Robotic Technology

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $1.5 million over three years to the University of Illinois at Chicago and Worcester Polytechnic Institute to fund projects aimed at reducing workers’ exposures to hazards through the development and use of collaborative robots, or co-robots.

Robotics Tomorrow

Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Clarify Independent Contractor Conundrum

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently proposed a rule intended to create greater certainty on the matter of contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Depending on if the new presidential administration changes things, the proposed rule would establish an “economic reality” test to determine a worker’s status as an employee or independent contractor.

Occupational Health and Safety

Toxics Release Inventory Search Tool Now Available in Spanish

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making information on industrial chemical releases from the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking communities across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico can use EPA’s new Spanish search tool to learn about industrial facilities in their communities.


OSHA issues Guidance on Ventilation

As part of the agency's ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in workplaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to issue alerts and guidance designed to keep workers safe. The most recent guidance issued by OSHA deals with ventilation in the workplace to help maintain a safe and healthy work environment.

The National Law Review [Author: Jackson Lewis]

OSHA Guidance

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

WTP COVID-19 Training Needs Assessment Now Available

NIEHS WTP commissioned the National Clearinghouse for Worker Health and Safety Training (National Clearinghouse) to conduct a needs assessment to understand how grantees were managing the transition from in-person to online training and then later the transition back into the classroom under physical distancing and infection control requirements. The report shares the concerns, challenges, and needs as well as the lessons learned and best practices.

WTP COVID-19 Toolbox

Guidance to Protect Volunteers From COVID-19 During Natural Disaster Response and Recovery

NIEHS and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) jointly produced a guidance document designed to provide natural disaster response volunteers with information about how to protect themselves from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease COVID-19. Additionally, information about how volunteer organizations operate during a response has been included to help them understand the managerial and organizational systems you may encounter.

Guidance Document

Job OpeningsBack to Top

MCN Seeks Program Manager for Occupational and Environmental Health

Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is hiring a full time Program Manager for our Occupational and Environmental Health Division. This position is responsible for supporting and advancing MCN's mission with an emphasis on projects addressing Environmental Health, Worker Health and Safety, Children’s Health, COVID-19, and Community Mobilization.

Job Posting

OAI Seeks Director for Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Training Programs

Chicago-based Opportunity, Advancement, Innovation in Workforce Development (OAI) is looking for an exceptional Occupational Safety, Industrial Hygiene, or Public Health professional to lead OAI’s nationwide worker health and safety training programs. These programs address the needs of first responders, underrepresented workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

Job Posting

ICWUC Seeks Center Director Position

The International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) seeks applications for the position of Center Director (CD) at its Center for Worker Health and Safety Education, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Center is operated by the ICWUC in cooperation with eleven other major unions and organizations.

Job Posting

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