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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 25, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 25, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 25, 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 (October 25) 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.


NIEHS Wildfire Resources

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.

NIEHS Wildfire Response Training Tool and Resources

Cranes Exploded, City Hopes to Finally Retrieve Two Bodies Stuck in Hard Rock Hotel Ruins

A week after a construction site collapse that killed three workers and injured dozens more, officials hope they will soon be able to retrieve the two bodies still stuck in what remains of a Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans. On Oct. 20 two giant cranes that loomed over the ruined building came crashing down after carefully timed explosions that city authorities said did minimal damage to the downtown area and its infrastructure. But the cranes’ fall was just one step in what is sure to be a long, laborious and expensive response to the collapse that sent clouds of debris into the streets near the city’s historic French Quarter.

The Washington Post [Authors: Derek Hawkins and Hannah Knowles]

Nuclear Workers Hospitalized; Columbia Plant Runs Afoul of Safety Rules – Again

A Columbia nuclear fuel factory with a history of leaks, spills and other mishaps has again run into trouble, this time after three workers went to the hospital and an inspection found the plant did not have proper safety equipment. The Westinghouse nuclear plant discovered that it had a device in place that was not adequate to prevent uranium from leaking into chemical supply drums at the site, federal records show. That's potentially significant because the drums were in a "non-favorable" position, which under certain circumstances could increase chances of a radiation burst inside the 1,000-employee plant.

The State [Author: Sammy Fretwell]

For South Philly Residents, New Report on Refinery Explosion Prompts More Health Worries

In the months since the explosion at Philadelphia Energy Solutions, some residents said they have been struggling with coughing or asthma or noticed neighbors with health complications. A report by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released Oct. 16 was further confirmation, some said, that officials are not prioritizing the health of the community, and left residents complaining that officials hadn’t talked with them about their health and should have warned them sooner about toxic chemicals.

Philadelphia Inquirer [Author: Ellie Silverman]

Disaster Disparity: California Spreads Emergency Training to Diverse Communities

California will spend $50 million on a training campaign, Listos California, over the next few years to help vulnerable people better prepare for emergencies like fires and earthquakes. In Spanish, listos means "ready," a nod to the program’s goal of spreading preparedness to all people. Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, which set aside the money in the state budget, said one lesson from recent emergencies is that traditional preparedness efforts often fail to surmount cultural barriers and reach diverse communities.

San Francisco Chronicle [Author: Dustin Gardiner]

Interior Asserts Offshore Wind Turbine Worker Safety Role

Worker safety on offshore wind turbines will be overseen by the Department of Interior, not the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the department reiterated in an Oct. 17 notice. The director of the department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Scott Angelle, called the policy announcement “a major milestone in advancing the renewable energy program on the outer continental shelf.”

Bloomberg Environment [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Study Finds U.S. Public Land Workers Facing Assaults, Threats

Federal employees overseeing U.S. public lands were assaulted or threatened at least 360 times over a five-year period marked by heightened tensions with anti-government groups and dwindling ranks of law enforcement officers, a congressional watchdog agency said Oct. 22. The Government Accountability Office in a new report highlights anti-government tensions that at times have boiled over, including a six-week armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016 and other standoffs with armed protesters in Montana and Nevada.

Associated Press [Author: Matthew Brown]

Construction Platform Fails, Leaving Worker Dangling in Air

Authorities say two workers on a construction platform in New Jersey were rescued after it failed and left one worker briefly dangling by his safety rope in midair. No injuries were reported Oct. 14 in Atlantic City. The platform holding the workers was about six floors up when it let go on one side. Authorities say that the two men had been doing masonry work and that the collapse occurred as they started to descend.

Associated Press

EPA Fee Hike to Track Hazardous Waste Challenged by Trade Group

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to raise user fees for its "e-Manifest" electronic tracking program for hazardous waste should be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit, an industry trade group says. The Environmental Protection Agency's Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System is intended to save industry and states time and money when keeping an eye on waste shipments, according to the agency's website. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit should set the agency's July 22 fee schedule aside, says the Environmental Technology Council, a trade association of companies that recycle, treat, and dispose of industrial and hazardous waste.

Bloomberg Environment [Author: Martina Barash]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) Annual Meeting 2020

Join the PEPH program in celebrating its 10th anniversary. The meeting will provide an opportunity to look towards the future, consider how the program/network can evolve, reflect on what has been accomplished, and challenges moving forward. The meeting will be held February 12-14, 2020 at the Durham Convention Center. Workshop abstracts are being accepted until 6:00 p.m. EDT on November 1, 2019. Poster abstracts are also being accepted until 6:00 p.m. EST on November 6, 2019.

Meeting Page

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

Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals Training Program

Employers have a responsibility under OSHA's 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

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

'Unprecedented Level' of Disasters Strain FEMA's Recovery Workforce

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) workforce shortages, combined with an increasing number of natural disasters in the United States and a lack of permanent leadership at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have raised bipartisan concerns from members of the House Transportation Committee and its subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management. Subcommittee Chairwoman Dina Titus said FEMA continues to face staffing challenges with most of its incident management workforce already deployed across the country.

Federal News Network [Author: Jory Heckman]

Climate Change Threatens Firefighters and Farmworkers. And That's Only the Beginning.

As an emergency medicine resident at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Zachary Wettstein, MD, has seen the effects of wildfires firsthand. On days when it's really smoky, he says, "I'm not surprised that I'm seeing more people with shortness of breath." Densely smoky days certainly are growing as wildfire season worsens, experts say, spurred in part by such environmental changes as earlier snowmelts that can cause drier, hotter conditions.

Association of American Medical Colleges

Experts Testify United States Is Underprepared for Bioterrorism Threats

Terrorist threats against the United States continue to grow and evolve, including the use of non-conventional weapons, begging the question of whether this country is well-equipped for such attacks. The conclusion of experts who testified Thursday before the U.S. House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery was that the country is not equipped.

Homeland Preparedness News


Antarctic Ice Sheets 'Still Leaking Radioactive Chlorine' From Cold War Nuclear Weapon Tests

A recent study claims that U.S. nuclear bombs detonated 70 years ago are having a long-lasting impact on the environment and it could continue for hundreds of thousands of years. During the Cold War, the U.S. tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean as it attempted to prove its strength to the Soviet Union. New research has found that there's still high levels of the radioactive isotopes that were released into the air by the tests buried in the snow of Antarctica.

The Sun [Author: Charlotte Edwards]

ER Nurses File Workplace Safety Complaint Over Alleged Violence Against Staff

Emergency department nurses at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital have filed a workplace safety complaint with state regulators, citing incidents of violence against staff in the department that they attribute to chronic understaffing and negligence by the hospital’s administration. The complaint filed on Oct. 18 with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) among other things alleges that staff in that department have not been trained on workplace violence prevention since 2017 and are discouraged by management from reporting incidents of violence.

San Francisco Examiner [Author: Laura Waxmann]

China Plans to End Illegal Hazardous Chemical Dumping by 2025

China will step up efforts to end the illegal dumping of hazardous chemical waste over the next six years, raising its monitoring and treatment capacity and blacklisting violators, the environment ministry said on Oct. 21. China’s chemical sector came under heavy scrutiny this year after a factory explosion in the province of Jiangsu killed 78 people. The blast triggered a nationwide safety crackdown as well as a plan to relocate 80% of producers of toxic chemicals away from residential areas.

Reuters [Authors: David Stanway and Richard Pullin]

Measles Making a Deadly Comeback Across Africa

Uganda has been grappling with an alarming spate of measles cases, even though there's plenty of the vaccine to go around, health officials say. Even some children who received vaccinations, like her daughter, have been getting sick. Since January 2018, Uganda has confirmed more than 3,440 measles cases and nine measles-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Measles is having a deadly resurgence across Africa, where, as of September, about 44% of this year's cases worldwide have been recorded. That's due in large part to a massive outbreak in the island nation of Madagascar off the coast of Mozambique, where more than 150,000 cases have been reported and more than 1,000 people have died due to low vaccination rates and a vaccine shortage once the outbreak took hold.

The Los Angeles Times [Author: Krista Mahr]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant Opportunity Is Now Open

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education has issued a competitive funding opportunity for projects designed to build environmental literacy of K-12 students and the public so they are knowledgeable of the ways in which their community can become more resilient to extreme weather and/or other environmental hazards, and become involved in achieving that resilience. This funding opportunity is soliciting two types of projects through separate competitive priorities.

NOAA Grant

OSHA Publishes Webpage on Radiation Hazards and Control

The Occupational Safety and Health Admistration(OSHA) recently released a revamped webpage on ionizing radiation, which is a potential job hazard for workers in industries ranging from healthcare to security operations to manufacturing and construction. The updated page provides a starting point for technical and regulatory information and discusses how to recognize, evaluate, and control occupational health hazards associated with ionizing radiation. This resource adds to OSHA’s collection of radiation protection guidelines, which already includes in-depth materials on preparing for and responding to radiation emergencies

OSHA's Ionizing Radiation webpage

Alliance Formed to Protect Solid Waste Industry Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has formed a national alliance with the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), and Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) to protect the safety and health of workers in the solid waste industry. During the two-year agreement, the Alliance will address transportation hazards, including backovers and distracted driving; slips, trips, and falls; musculoskeletal injuries; heat and cold stress; and needle stick and other hazards.

Industrial Safety and Hygiene News

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

CPWR Webinar: Mortality of Older Construction and Craft Workers Employed at U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Sites

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is hosting a webinar on Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will cover the updated mortality analyses of a cohort of over 24,000 Building Trades National Medical Screening Program (BTMed) participants enrolled between 1998 and 2016. Overall mortality results will be discussed with particular attention given to deaths due to respiratory diseases and cancers.

CPWR Webinar Registration

Job OpeningsBack to Top

ILO Seeks Workers' Safety and Health in Global Supply Chains Intern

The International Labour Organization (ILO) Internship Programme provides an opportunity for talented individuals to: Increase understanding of relevant issues at the international level by involving them directly in the work of the Office and the application of ILO principles, programmes and strategies; gain practical experience with the ILO directly related to their field of study. The internship programme is not intended to lead to a career in the ILO. There should be no expectation of further employment at the end of the internship.

Job Announcement

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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