November 9, 2023
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.
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November is National Native American Heritage Month
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994. Events and educational resources are available on the Native American Heritage Month website.
Experts Talk Detecting Disease from Voice Biomarkers With AI, Privacy Concerns
Over the past few years, researchers have started using artificial intelligence (AI) to capture signals from our voices in hopes of quickly diagnosing diseases. Using voice biomarkers for early disease detection is a hot research area and has spawned several startups, but while research shows correlation between voice signals and certain conditions, the field has not yet proved that this technology will meaningfully help patients. It’s unclear if providers can translate an earlier diagnosis from voice biomarker technology into better disease outcomes. Nevertheless, experts are optimistic about the tool’s eventual ability to diagnose conditions, potentially in conjunction with other methods.
STAT News [Author: Lizzy Lawrence]
A California Town Wiped Off the Map by Wildfire Is Still Recovering Five Years On
As Paradise marks five years since one of the worst wildfires in American history — only the blazes on Maui last August were deadlier — many in the rural Northern California region are still coping with trauma and struggling to recover. Before the Camp Fire, which was ignited by downed powerlines in the National Forest lands northeast of town, about 26,000 people lived in Paradise. In the weeks and months immediately after the Camp Fire, survivors were anxious to get home, but it took nine months just to remove all the hazardous toxins and debris piles before the first homes could be rebuilt. Now, five years later, it's estimated that the town's population is roughly a third of its pre-fire population.
NPR [Author: Kirk Siegler]
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New York/New Jersey Education and Research Center 2023 Pilot Research Symposium & Center Updates
The New York/New Jersey Occupational Safety & Health Center is holding a Pilot Research Symposium. Presentation topics include child welfare workers and secondary trauma, opioid prescriptions and workers compensation, occupational ammonium exposure in pregnant women, exposure to PFAS among volunteer firefighters, inhalation exposures to cleaning products in domestic cleaners, and pain modulation for chronic neck pain. The symposium will take place online on December 8, 2023, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. ET.
Recovery Ready Workplace New York Symposium
Between 2009 to 2015, an estimated 225,000 New York workers were lost from the labor market due to opioids. Recovery Ready Workplace initiatives have emerged around the U.S. as important interventions in addressing substance use disorder (SUD) and the opioid overdose crisis. This symposium, hosted by the New York State Coalition to Prevent Addiction and Support Recovery in Employment, will share information on the importance of Recovery Ready Workplaces and why they are necessary in New York. The symposium will take place on December 4 and 5, 2023 in Albany, New York.
TRB Webinar: Solutions for Resilient Supply Chain Management
Social, economic, and geopolitical events have contributed to the demand shocks and severe operational and financial consequences for supply chain and freight industries in the United States. Companies are still facing the impacts of unprecedented demand, inventory, and material supply issues. These events highlight the significant need for resilience in supply chain management, continued monitoring for potential disruption factors, and plans to ensure business continuity. This webinar will take place on November 16, 2023, from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET.
|On The Web This Week
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Five Ways Climate Change Makes It Harder for Doctors to Help Their Patients
In the United States, 73% of residents — roughly 244 million people — experienced at least one extreme heat day in 2023, increasing the danger of heat-related illnesses. As a result, many doctors are working overtime to understand the evolving threats of climate change and protect the mental and physical health of the people they care for. Many health professionals are expanding what they talk about in the office, helping patients understand their health risks and create plans to protect themselves. On top of the health risks from climate conditions, climate change can make the practice of medicine more difficult by damaging prescription medications or interfering with treatments doctors use to control their patient’s preexisting health conditions.
Yale Climate Connections [Author: Neha Pathak]
Navigating Construction Site Safety in the Era of Extreme Weather
Extreme weather occurrences — from hurricanes and floods to heatwaves and wildfires — are becoming more persistent and severe. This evolving climate landscape presents new challenges for construction sites, making it crucial to reevaluate existing safety protocols. Companies must act now to ensure workers' well-being and projects' structural integrity in these unpredictable conditions. Traditional safety measures like basic weatherproofing and standard protective gear may need to improve in these new circumstances. Many of these measures work in more predictable weather patterns and may fall short of providing adequate protection against intensifying threats.
Occupational Health & Safety Online [Author: Jane Marsh]
NYC Outreach Initiative Targets Fatal Overdoses in Construction
New York City (NYC)’s Department of Buildings (DOB) and its Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are teaming up to conduct outreach at construction worksites in response to fatal overdoses in the local construction industry. The outreach will include discussions about the dangers of fentanyl, how to use naloxone to prevent a fatal overdose, worksite safety, and information on keeping workers safe on and off the job. DOB is asking contractors and site safety professionals to include drug and alcohol safety in toolbox talks. The department requires all construction workers on larger and more complex worksites to take 40 hours of Site Safety Training courses, including two hours of drug and alcohol awareness.
|Federal Agency Update
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EPA Seeking Candidates for Science Advisory Board Environmental Justice Science & Analysis Review Panel
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking nominations of a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its Science Advisory Board (SAB) Environmental Justice (EJ) Science & Analysis Review Panel. The SAB is a chartered federal advisory committee that provides independent, expert advice to the EPA administrator on a range of environmental health, engineering, environmental justice, and economic issues. The EJ Science & Analysis Review Panel will review the revised Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis and develop a self-initiated commentary outlining recommendations on advancing environmental justice science in rulemaking. Nominations are due by November 13, 2023.
The Biden-Harris Administration Is Taking Actions to Improve the Health of Rural Communities and Help Rural Health Care Providers Stay Open
The Biden-Harris Administration is lowering health care costs for rural Americans and supporting access to high quality care in rural America. Over sixty million people live in rural America and compared to their urban counterparts, rural Americans are more likely to live in poverty, be older, be uninsured, have disabilities, and have fewer health care providers available within their area. The Biden-Harris Administration is taking actions to support rural health including building on the Affordable Care Act and the Inflation Reduction Act to increase access to affordable health coverage and care for those living in rural communities; keeping more rural hospitals open in the long run to provide critical services in their communities; bolstering the rural health workforce, including for primary care and behavioral health providers; and supporting access to needed care such as behavioral health and through telehealth services.
DOE Announces Up to $440 Million to Install Rooftop Solar and Batteries in Puerto Rico’s Most Vulnerable Communities
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a slate of solar companies and nonprofits selected to install rooftop solar and battery storage systems for vulnerable households in Puerto Rico through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund. The first round of funding, up to $440 million, will help lower energy bills for 30,000–40,000 single-family households in Puerto Rico, improve household energy resilience, and keep the lights on during extreme weather events. This funding will also support thousands of local clean energy jobs, help achieve President Biden’s goal of lowering energy costs for all Americans, as well as help Puerto Rico achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. DOE anticipates the first installations will begin in Spring 2024.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Get the Lead Out Initiative to Accelerate Removal of Lead Service Lines Nationwide as Part of Investing in America Agenda
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Get the Lead Out (GLO) Initiative that will help ensure safer drinking water for communities. Through the GLO initiative, EPA will partner with 200 underserved communities nationwide to provide the technical assistance they need to identify and remove lead service lines. As part of the whole-of-government effort to tackle lead exposure, EPA will help communities remove the barriers to lead pipe removal. GLO will specifically help participating communities identify lead services lines, develop replacement plans, and apply for funding to get the lead out.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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The AI Game
The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) artificial intelligence (AI) board game was designed to be used by workers’ representatives, trade union trainers, digitalization officers, social partners, and anyone who would like to explore the concepts and applications of AI at the workplace and be prepared for negotiations. The AI board game's primary objective is to facilitate and strengthen social dialogue by empowering workers, along with other stakeholders, to build their capacity, improve their understanding around the challenges posed by AI, and help in negotiations processes.
European Trade Union Institute [Authors: Valerica Dumitrescu & Aída Ponce Del Castillo]
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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Seeking Health Protection Project Manager
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is seeking a Health Protection Project Manager who will manage a major section in the planning, development, coordination, implementation, and administration of departmental strategic health care program initiatives and projects. Job responsibilities include establishing and managing a departmental workgroup concerning homelessness among women, issuing an annual report on the causes and health impacts of homelessness and housing insecurity, and overseeing and establishing the design and implementation of data collection and analysis related to worker health and safety.
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