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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 11, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 11, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 11, 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 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.


Experts Call for Revamping Disaster-Response System

Eleven months after fire obliterated Paradise, California, and left 85 people dead, there has been no independent investigation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), tasked with managing the government's response, has not completed its after-action report. FEMA's reports, designed to assess its own performance rather than make safety recommendations, are rarely made public. As a result, there is little data publicly available to show whether concerns about a lack of shelter, transportation and mental health support are well founded, or how well the response was coordinated among local, state and federal officials.

The Washington Post [Author: Frances Stead Sellers]

Lawmakers Seek Protections for Workers Against Lung Damage Tied to Making Countertops

Lawmakers in Congress are calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to do more to protect workers who may be unsafely cutting "engineered stone" used for countertops. The material contains high levels of the mineral silica and breathing in silica dust is dangerous. While silica is found in natural stones, like granite, engineered stone made of quartz can be more than 90% silica. This type of artificial stone has become increasingly popular among Americans for kitchen and bathroom countertops in recent years.

NPR [Author: Nell Greenfieldboyce]

Western Governors: States Not Consulted on Nuclear Waste

Western governors are disappointed that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) didn't consult their states' nuclear waste experts before releasing a five-year plan for a nuclear waste facility in New Mexico, the governors say. The Western Governors' Association in a Sept. 30 letter to DOE said the plan released in August for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could have benefited with contributions from the states concerning transportation and safety.

Associated Press [Author: Keith Ridler]

California’s Contract Worker Law Could Add Health Coverage for Some but Put Others at Risk

A new California law that reclassifies some independent contractors as employees, requiring they be offered a range of benefits and worker protections, will probably expand health insurance coverage in the state, health policy experts say. But it also might end up harming some workers. That’s in part because the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, could cut two ways. While inducing many employers to extend health insurance to newly reclassified employees, it might prompt others to shift some workers from full-time to part-time status to avoid offering them health coverage.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Steven Findlay]

Overwhelmed or Ill Informed, 70,000 Wildfire Victims May Get Nothing

After a succession of devastating wildfires in the last four years, tens of thousands of Californians — many with broken spirits, many homeless — may now lose out on compensation from the company that was to blame. A deadline for victims to file claims is less than three weeks away. About 30,000 have done so with the help of lawyers, along with 1,500 acting on their own. But the deadline could pass without claims from as many as 70,000 others eligible for compensation.

New York Times [Authors: Ivan Penn and Lauren Hepler]

Environmental Justice for All

Jill Harrison, University of Colorado Boulder sociologist, has traveled the country interviewing regulators, environmental justice workers, activists and industry stakeholders, asking this: Why, as the broader environmental movement has flourished, do people of color and the poor still face disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards? Some people point fingers at industry. Others blame anti-regulatory conservatives. Through her research, Harrison — who studies the cultural roots of environmental inequality — has pulled the curtain back on an uncomfortable truth: Well-meaning progressives working to solve environmental problems sometimes overlook, even exacerbate, the unique challenges facing vulnerable communities.

Coloradan Alumni Magazine [Author: Lisa Marshall]

Exploring Workplace Training Interventions Addressing Workplace Stress and Addiction: Workshop Report Now Available

A newly released report describes insightful conversations that WTP staff, grantees, and partners had on reducing workplace stress and addiction during the spring 2019 workshop in Pittsburgh. The report tells the story of WTP’s efforts to address mental health resiliency, opioid-related hazards, and substance use in the workplace – setting the stage for new training initiatives to eliminate stigma and improve the health and wellbeing of workers across the nation.


Opioids and the Workplace: Prevention and Response Training Tool is Now Available

This new awareness training tool is designed to educate workers and employers in industries at high risk of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose death about the opioid crisis, pathways to addiction, as well as prevention and response interventions. The tool reviews the opioid crisis background, key definitions, and signs and symptoms of opioid toxicity. It reviews the evidence that opioid use disorder is a brain disease and addresses stigma in the workplace, as well as obstacles and solutions to increase access to treatment and recovery resources . It emphasizes that prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses, and stress is key to avoiding treatment for pain that can lead to opioid use and addiction. The training tool has several accompanying documents including Instructor Tips, fact sheets and a resource list.


Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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

Webinar Program for National Poisoning Prevention Week 2019

The National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is hosting a series of webinars during Oct. 20-26. The goal is to increase lead poisoning prevention awareness, in an effort to reduce childhood exposure to lead. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lead Poisoning Prevention and Environmental Health Tracking Branch collaborate annually on this observance. The webinars are also supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Healthy Homes Partnership.

Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP) Webinar [Oct. 22, 11:00 a.m. ET]

Primary Prevention Protects – Working with Residents to Get Their Homes Checked for Lead Webinar [Oct. 22, 2:00 p.m. ET]

Consumer Outreach Ideas for Lead Programs Webinar [Oct. 23, 11:00 a.m. ET]

Amulets to Zaprana: Non-Paint Sources of Lead Webinar [Oct. 23, 2:00 p.m. ET]

CDC EPIC Webinar on Overcoming Message Resistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hosting a webinar on Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET on a discussion of one of the great challenges in public health: overcoming message resistance. During public health emergencies, community leaders and emergency responders share advice with affected communities to help reduce harm or even save lives. People often receive and understand these messages but still don’t take the recommended actions. This webinar from CDC’s Emergency Partners Information Connection (EPIC) draws upon communication science, behavioral science, and the experiences of emergency responders to share best practices for overcoming message resistance.

Webinar Information

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. 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Details

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

Public Stakeholder Meeting on Leading Indicators for Safety and Health Programs

The U.S. Department of Labor invites interested parties to attend a discussion on leading indicators for occupational safety and health programs. The meeting will be held on Nov. 7 from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:30 p.m. ET. A key component of a safety and health program is to monitor performance and progress using leading indicators that track how well various aspects of the program are performing. The November discussion will focus on the use of leading indicators, how they are chosen, what they track, whether they are effective, if there is commonality across an industry, and any challenges encountered using such indicators. Registration ends Oct. 30.

Meeting 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

Save the Dates March 16-18, 2020 Workshop on Bio-Preparedness

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) has been addressing preparedness and response efforts since 2001. WTP awardees provided occupational biological safety training to workers during the anthrax attacks (2001), the H5N1 outbreak (2007), and the H1N1 avian influenza outbreak (2009); mold remediation training following Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012); and Ebola virus disease preparedness training (2013-2015). This work continued through the Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training Program, integrating the HAZMAT trainer’s understanding of worker safety and health protection with training and guidance on infection control and biosafety. In 2018, the administration issued its National Biodefense Strategy. This workshop will explore where WTP is with bio-preparedness, how our national biodefense strategy has evolved, and what contributions the WTP can make to implementation of the biodefense strategy. The Clearinghouse Advisory Board and WTP Awardee meetings will be held March 16, and the workshop will be held March 17-18.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

US Department of Agriculture Is Letting Factories with Troubling Safety Records Slaughter Chickens Even Faster

Chicken companies have long wanted to operate their plants faster so that they can boost profits, either by producing more chickens or using less labor. But speeding up increases the risks to employees already working in dangerous conditions, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The chicken industry has higher injury rates than coal mines or construction sites, and it’s the biggest source of finger amputations.

ProPublica [Author: Isaac Arnsdorf]

How Can We Protect Vulnerable Workers from Dangerous Substances?

Some groups of workers are more at risk than others when exposed to dangerous substances. This can happen because these workers are inexperienced, uninformed or physically more vulnerable. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s (EU-OSHA) new info sheet on vulnerable workers and dangerous substances can help. It explains employers’ responsibilities, highlights which groups of workers are particularly vulnerable, such as young workers, migrants or pregnant workers – and explains how to take account of their needs through risk assessment and prevention measures.


President Trump Grants Federal Disaster Declaration in Texas After Imelda

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Oct. 4 that President Donald Trump has granted a federal disaster declaration for six Texas counties, including Harris County, after the flooding and damage Tropical Storm Imelda caused in September. Abbott requested the disaster declaration on Oct. 1. In addition to Harris, Chambers, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery and Orange counties are also covered by the declaration.

Houston Public Radio

EPA Requests Input on 20 Chemicals for High-Priority Risk Evaluation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on 20 chemicals for potential designation as high-priority substances, another step in accordance with the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. EPA previously weighed comments on a list of 40 chemicals to prioritize for risk evaluation, released in March. Publication of this list launched a statutory requirement for the agency to designate at least 20 chemicals each as high and low priority by Dec. 22.

Safety and Health Magazine

More Than 3 Out of 5 Safety Pros Perform Duties Outside Their Expertise, Survey Finds

Occupational safety and health professionals are in need of expanded continuing education training and resources, say researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health after results of a recent survey show that more than 3 out of 5 are required to perform duties outside their primary area of expertise.

Safety and Health Magazine

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Publication on Efficacy and Compatibility of Decontamination Options for Sensitive Equipment-Related Materials Contaminated with Persistent Chemical Warfare Agents

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development released a new document on chemical warfare agents. Traditional decontamination solutions such as bleach or hydroxide salt containing products tend to be highly corrosive. This report describes the decontamination efficacy research that was conducted using three decontaminants that were selected based on their perceived high efficacy and good material compatibility. The results of this research will inform the EPA response community and other Federal, State, Tribal and Local agencies on decontamination options for sensitive equipment and should be considered as part of the remediation strategy to cleanup VX or HD contaminated sites.


Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to revise the standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in the construction and shipyards industries. These proposed changes are designed to accomplish three goals: to more appropriately tailor the requirements of the construction and shipyards standards to the particular exposures in these industries in light of partial overlap between the beryllium standards’ requirements and other OSHA standards; to aid compliance and enforcement across the beryllium standards by avoiding inconsistency, where appropriate, between the shipyards and construction standards and proposed revisions to the general industry standard; and to clarify certain requirements with respect to materials containing only trace amounts of beryllium. The comment period closes Nov. 7.

Federal Register

US Department of Labor Requests Information on OSHA Online Outreach Training

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Request for Information to consider Online Outreach Training Program Consortiums, a new model to administer online classes for the Outreach Training Program. The consortiums would consist of three or four collaborators. A three-collaborator consortium would include OSHA, an OSHA Training Institute Education Center, and an online provider. Four-collaborator consortiums would add a stakeholder organization that is interested in developing and offering online outreach training to only their members.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIOSH Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum: A Recap and Future Directions

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has had a longstanding interest in nonstandard work hours and associated health and safety effects. To build on this expertise, the NIOSH Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum: Meeting the needs of American Workers and Employers was recently hosted by the Healthy Work Design Program’s Working Hours, Sleep, and Fatigue Workgroup on Sept. 13-14 in Coeur D’Alene. The purpose of this inaugural Forum was to take an industry-specific approach, with a special session on vulnerable workers, to identify the gaps and needs in this topic area, effective mitigation techniques, and future directions for research.

NIOSH Science Blog [Authors: Imelda Wong and Naomi Swanson]

Job OpeningsBack to Top

TNEC Seeks Marketing and Sales Coordinator

The New England Consortium (TNEC), based at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, is seeking a full-time marketing/sales coordinator to support its Hazardous Waste Site Worker and Emergency Response Disaster Preparedness Training program. The marketing/sales coordinator will plan and implement outreach activities targeting overall programmatic goals for retention of students and contract clients resulting in increased revenue/profitability. S/he will expand the program’s public profile throughout the New England states, enhance course offerings by keeping up with industry and environmental trends and events and manage emerging technology relative to website development and social media marketing.

Job Posting

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