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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 4, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 4, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 4, 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

Birnbaum Tribute Highlights Council Meeting

At their Sept. 10-11 meeting, members of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council gave a rousing farewell to retiring NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. Her 40-year career as a federal scientist includes 10 years as director of the institute as well as work at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Ernie Hood]

Topic of Opioids in the Workplace Stirs Emotion at Council Meeting

The National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council convened Sept. 10-11 in Durham, North Carolina, to discuss NIEHS research priorities and consider new initiatives, including opioids in the workplace. With 130 Americans dying every day from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the epidemic of opioid addiction has become a major public health crisis in the United States. Opioids in the workplace have been gaining attention because workplace injuries sometimes lead workers to develop dependency on the drugs originally prescribed to treat their pain.

NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Ernie Hood]

Course Reversal on Worker Safety Rule Involving Beryllium

The Trump administration has scrapped plans to roll back safety rules protecting construction and shipyard workers from exposure to beryllium, a toxic, carcinogenic element found in abrasive powders often used to remove rust and paint from ship hulls. In a bulletin issued Sept. 27, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it will leave the protections in place for the construction and shipyard industries. The administration said it will develop a proposal to tailor the rule’s requirements “more appropriately” for the two industries.

Reuters [Author: Peter Eisler]

Pipeline Rules Adopted Years After Deadly Explosion, Spills

Transportation officials on Oct. 1 adopted long-delayed measures that are meant to prevent pipeline spills and deadly gas explosions but don't address recommended steps to lessen accidents once they occur. The new rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation apply to more than 500,000 miles of pipelines that carry natural gas, oil and other hazardous materials throughout the country.

Associated Press [Author: Matthew Brown]

Workers Are Falling Ill, Even Dying, After Making Kitchen Countertops

Artificial stone used to make kitchen and bathroom countertops has been linked to cases of death and irreversible lung injury in workers who cut, grind and polish this increasingly popular material. The fear is that thousands of workers in the United States who create countertops out of what's known as "engineered stone" may be inhaling dangerous amounts of lung-damaging silica dust, because engineered stone is mostly made of the mineral silica.

NPR [Author: Nell Greenfieldboyce]

Environmental Group Sues Over Exemptions to Safety Rule Put in Place After Deepwater Horizon

The nonprofit group Healthy Gulf filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sept. 26 against two federal agencies and their directors for allowing offshore drillers to waive safety protocols put in place after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. An investigation into the explosion that killed 11 people in 2010 determined that among the factors leading to the disaster was the failure of a piece of equipment called a blowout preventer, the last line of defense against an oil spill. [Author: Sara Sneath]

The Evolution of the Hard Hat

In 1919, when Edward W. Bullard had just returned to the United States after serving in the cavalry in France, he saw skyscrapers going up all across the country, and dams and bridges were growing ever larger. These projects brought new life to cities after World War I, but they also presented new dangers for the construction workers who placed girders, poured concrete and pounded nails. The Bullards cobbled a prototype together, and that was the birth of the hard hat, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

The New York Times [Author: Murray Carpenter]

Watchdog Finds DEA Was ‘Slow to Respond’ to Opioid Epidemic

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was “slow to respond” as America grappled with a rising opioid epidemic, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Oct. 2 that faulted the agency for cutting back use of a key enforcement tool and continuing to raise production quotas even as the number of deaths rose. Some of the findings could bolster the claims of drugmakers and distributors who have said the government should share the blame for the crisis. The first federal trial on the crisis, dealing with claims against the drug industry from two Ohio counties, is scheduled to begin later this month in Cleveland.

Associated Press [Authors: Mike Balsamo and Geoff Mulvihill]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

CISA Updated National Emergency Communications Plan Webinars

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an update to the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), the Nation’s strategic plan to strengthen and enhance emergency communications capabilities. As part of implementing the NECP, CISA will be hosting a series of webinars over the next couple of weeks to help first responders and other public safety personnel understand the updates and ask questions. The webinars are free and open to anyone. The next webinar will be held on Oct. 8 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Link

After the Storm: Equitable Recovery and Resilient Adaptation

The webinar is part of the Urban Waters Learning Network series on climate and community resilience. This session will focus on two organizations that work to build resilience as part of recovery and adaptation, while also facing displacement pressures and inequities. The speakers include Yvette Chen of the Fair Share Housing Center and Arthur Johnson of the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. The webinar will be held on Oct. 9 at 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Call for Papers: A Special Feature in Health Security: Approaches to Assessing and Managing Health Security Risks

A special feature in Health Security will be devoted to analysis of methods, programs, policies, and systems, as well as ongoing and future research and policy efforts, that focus on risk assessment and systematic management of health security risks of all types. The journal seeks scholarly papers that address the wide range of policy, practice, and research issues relevant to this topic. Additionally, narrative or conceptual reviews of specific risk assessment and management approaches are welcome. Papers must be submitted by Oct. 15.

Journal Details

Migrant Clinicians Network Webinar: Witnessing: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Trauma and What to Do About It

This webinar provides an overview of empathic stress, moral injury, and microaggressions, and describes coping strategies for both providers and clients. Kaethe Weingarten, Ph.D., discusses the role of clinicians, therapists, social workers, and other “witnesses” and “helpers” and the impact that witnessing has on the behavioral health of the witness. In the second half of the webinar we look at sources of resilience and what Dr. Weingarten calls “reasonable hope.” There is time for Q&A throughout the webinar. It will be held Oct. 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Details

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

New NIOSH Virtual Tool Kit to Help First Responders Work Safely Around Illicit Drugs

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a virtual tool kit for First Responders on how to protect themselves from exposure to illicit drugs. The tool kit includes short training videos and sharable infographics that cover protection when illicit drugs may be present and when they are present, what PPE to wear, and how to decontaminate themselves and their equipment. Other resources based on key points from NIOSH recommendations are also included in the virtual took kit.

NIOSH Toolkit

ISGP’s The Forum Podcast Episode on Oil Spills

The Institute on Science for Global Policy’s (ISGP) The Forum Podcast discusses diverse themes at the intersection of science, society, and policy (e.g., food security, climate change, public health, energy, synthetic biology, STEM education, etc.). The episode recently published is on oil spills. The episode asks, “What constitutes an oil spill, what effects can spills have, and how do responders clean them up?” Robyn Conmy, Jon Gulch, and Jeff Kimble of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explain the basics of oil spill response and why remediation challenges must be overcome on a case-by-case basis.

ISGP The Forum Episode 94: Oil and Water

Disaster Research Planning Pays Off After Hurricane

When Hurricane Harvey struck Houston in September 2017, health effects studies were launched in record time, thanks to a unique program spearheaded by NIEHS. The first data from those research response activities were shared at an Aug. 22 symposium at Baylor College of Medicine. Speakers highlighted rewards reaped from Disaster Research Response (DR2) resources, including an NIEHS-sponsored training exercise held in Houston in 2015. NIH researchers got involved within two weeks of the hurricane, NIEHS Senior Medical Advisor Aubrey Miller, M.D., said, thanks in part to strong partnerships that formed after that event.

NIEHS Environmental Factor [Author: Kelly Lenox]

Meet the Coal Town Betting Big on Outdoor Recreation

Since 2008, coal production has fallen by about 50 percent in Virginia. The trends look similar across the Ohio Valley. Over the last decade, coal production decreased more than 65 percent in Kentucky and Ohio and decreased roughly 40 percent in West Virginia. Norton, VA, like many regional communities, began looking at how to diversify its coal-based economy. One resource it has in abundance is nature.

Ohio Valley Resource [Author: Brittany Patterson]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

DOL Awards Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training Grants to Assist in Educating Workers and Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has awarded approximately $10.5 million in Susan Harwood federal safety and health training grants to 79 nonprofit organizations nationwide. The grants will provide education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize serious workplace hazards, implement injury prevention measures and understand their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Under President Trump’s Qualified Opportunity Zones Executive Order, OSHA awarded 54 grants to conduct occupational safety and health training in urban and economically distressed areas.


CSB Releases New Safety Digest After Four Disasters

the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its new safety digest, encouraging better worker participation in chemical training to prevent chemical accidents. The digest came after multiple incidents of worker injury and death as a result of inadequate and unengaging chemical hazard training. A lack of worker participation proved to be a factor in four major incidents investigated by the CSB because employees and their representatives were not engaged to help identify hazards and reduce risks. CSB investigators found that worker participation programs were inadequate despite the existence of federal regulations and industry standards.

CSB Safety Digest

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

CPWR Mortality of Older Construction and Craft Workers Employed at US Department of Energy Nuclear Sites Webinar

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is hosting a webinar on Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The webinar is presented by John Dement, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Duke University School of Medicine. It will cover the updated mortality analyses of a cohort of over 24,000 Building Trades National Medical Screening Program participants enrolled between 1998 and 2016. Overall mortality results will be discussed with particular attention given to deaths due to respiratory diseases and cancers.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

EPA Seeks Emergency Management Specialist

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hiring an Emergency Management Specialist. This position is in the Office of Land and Emergency Management, Office of Emergency Management. The position will serve as a technical policy and procedures expert for emergency response and removal programs, and review and interpret legislation and regulations, policies, and procedures developed by other EPA offices, federal agencies, and organizations that could impact the emergency response and removal program.

USA Jobs

BlueGreen Alliance Seeks State Policy Director

The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) seeks qualified candidates for the position of State Policy Director, based in our Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Washington, D.C. office. The State Policy Director is responsible for overseeing BGA’s state policy development aimed at building a clean economy with quality jobs, including working with state-based and program staff to identify legislative and policy opportunities, develop strategic policies to achieve organizational objectives, and to develop advocacy efforts around these policies on the state level.

Job Posting

Worksafe Seeks Executive Director

Worksafe is seeking an Executive Director to support our mission to prevent occupational injury, illness, and death by bringing justice to the workplace. The position is based in Oakland, California. Worksafe’s Executive Director is responsible for providing leadership and vision, directing daily operations, and furthering the long-term goals of the organization. We are seeking someone with experience leading a team, developing programs and campaigns, and fundraising.

Job Posting

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