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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 30, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 30, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 30, 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

Watchdogs Push New Mexico to Limit U.S. Nuclear Waste Dump

Watchdogs renewed their call for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state environmental regulators to take a stand against the federal government as it looks to extend and expand operations at the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository. The group suggested that the state over the years has rubber-stamped decisions related to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and needs to hold the U.S. Department of Energy accountable for cleaning up contamination and dealing with radioactive waste.

Lincoln Journal Star [Author: Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press]

These Hurricane Evacuees Were Told to Return to Lake Charles. They Came Home to Unlivable Conditions.

In mid-October, a month and a half after Hurricane Laura pounded southwest Louisiana with the stiffest winds to hit the state in a century and a half, more than 1,300 evacuees who were taking refuge in government-provided hotels received a message: It was time to return home. But for many of those evacuees, the messages were a source of consternation.

The Advocate [Author: Sam Karlin]

Tough Fire Season Takes Toll on Firefighters’ Mental Health

Now state and federal officials and mental health experts are bracing for firefighters to come home and start processing what they’ve been through. It’s not uncommon for wildland firefighters, even in a less-intense year, to develop depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, unhealthy substance use or suicidal thoughts.

PEW [Author: Sophie Quinton]

Washington Developing Wildfire Smoke Worker Safety Regulations

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries says workers in construction, agriculture, and other outdoor work environments deserve to be protected from bad air and subsequent health risks, and so they have filed official notification, alerting the state that their department has started the rule making process to create uniform labor laws protecting workers from exposure to poor air quality. [Author: Charles Woodman]

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order to Protect New Jersey’s Workforce During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Building on ongoing efforts to safeguard New Jersey’s frontline workforce, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192, providing mandatory health and safety standards to protect all New Jersey’s workers at work during the pandemic. The executive order will require both private and public sector employers to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces.

NJ Governor’s Office

NJ Executive Order

Employers Get Leeway in Late Appeals of OSHA Worker-Safety Cases

Employers have gotten a reprieve in three recent cases in which they missed a 15-day statutory deadline to challenge federal worker-safety citations, a trend that could have greater impact because of the pandemic. The second chance for late appeals of allegations that employers endangered workers — two-and-a-half years late, in one case — comes as businesses and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) face notification difficulties.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Call for Abstracts: 2021 Preparedness Summit

The National Association of County and City Health Officials is accepting abstract submissions for their 2021 Preparedness Summit. This year’s theme, "When Crisis is Commonplace: Transforming Your Community’s Public Health Preparedness Practices". Summit Planning Committee members will review all abstracts. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 31.

2021 Preparedness Summit Submissions

Webinar: COVID-19 and Native American Health: How Tribal Leaders Are Beating Back the Virus

US News & World Report is hosting a webinar on Nov. 9 at 1:00 p.m. ET. The webinar, “COVID-19 and Native American Health, How Tribal Leaders Are Beating Back the Virus,” will be an in-depth discussion of why American Indians are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic and the strategies tribal leaders are implementing to protect their communities. This webinar is part of the Community Health Leadership Forum, a virtual event series focused on improving community health and addressing the social determinants of health.

Webinar Information

Superfund Research Program Progress in Research Webinar Part 3: Vulnerable Populations

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program’s (SRP) “Progress in Research” webinar series features the Superfund Research Center grants awarded in 2020. In this session taking place on Nov. 9 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET, awardees from Northeastern University and University of Alabama at Birmingham will describe their research projects, accomplishments, and next steps.

Webinar Information

EPA Hosts Webinar on Tribal and Indigenous EJ Policy, EJ Financial Assistance Programs, and Tribal and Indigenous Experiences Using the EJ Financial Programs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting a webinar for federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples to learn about the EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples and EPA’s EJ financial assistance programs. These programs are available to help tribes and indigenous peoples in the United States to address their EJ concerns and interests. The webinar will be held Nov. 10 at 2:30-4:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic Nov. 12 Public Virtual Symposium

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) established the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic in 2018 as a public-private partnership to foster greater coordination and collective action across the health system and beyond in addressing the opioid addiction crisis. During this virtual symposium, Action Collaborative members will present the resources and tools created since the inception of the Action Collaborative that address among the most critical drivers of the opioid epidemic.

Meeting Registration

OSHA, PHMSA Request Public Input in Advance of International Meetings

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will hold virtual public meetings on Nov. 19. The purpose of the meetings is to consider public comments and gather information in advance of the 39th session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS).

Meeting Information

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

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

L.A.'s Coast Was Once a DDT Dumping Ground

From 1947 to 1982, the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT — a pesticide so powerful that it poisoned birds and fish — was based in Los Angeles. An epic Superfund battle later exposed the company’s disposal of toxic waste through sewage pipes that poured into the ocean — but all the DDT that was barged out to sea drew comparatively little attention.

Los Angeles Times [Author: Rosanna Xia]

Trends In ... Women’s PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for women should be based on women’s sizes – not men’s. Why is this important? Because PPE that doesn’t fit correctly won’t adequately protect female workers. To learn more, Safety+Health spoke with Melissa Black, CSP, president of MsR3 LLC and adjunct faculty member at Columbia Southern University, about the trends she’s seeing in PPE for women.

Safety and Health Magazine [Author: Jennifer Yario]

Governor Cuomo Announces MTA to Launch Voluntary COVID-19 Screening Program for Frontline Employees

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will begin a voluntary COVID-19 screening program for frontline employees. Under this new initiative, free COVID testing will be offered at rotating field locations and medical assessment and occupational health services centers to frontline NYC Transit, LIRR, Metro-North and Bridge and Tunnels employees.

New York Governor’s Office

AIHA’s Back to Work Safely Initiative

As the U.S. begins navigating the return to the workplace and schools against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) continues to expand and refine its comprehensive library of Back to Work Safely documents. Currently, on the website, there are 26 guidance documents across different business and community sectors. AIHA is also working to make them accessible to more people by translating them into Spanish.

Back to Work Safely

COVID-19 Spikes in Montana Exacerbate Health Worker Shortages

COVID-19 cases are surging in rural places across the Mountain States and Midwest, and when it hits health care workers, ready reinforcements aren’t easy to find. In Montana, pandemic-induced staffing shortages have shuttered a clinic in the state’s capital, led a northwestern regional hospital to ask employees exposed to COVID-19 to continue to work and emptied a health department 400 miles to the east.

Montana Free Press [Author: Katheryn Houghton]

Complaint Alleges Maryland Agency Has Failed to Protect Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic

Attorneys with a Baltimore public-interest law center allege that Maryland’s occupational safety program has failed to properly investigate workplace hazards, leaving workers in danger during the coronavirus pandemic. The Public Justice Center filed a complaint with the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health, seeking a “full investigation” on its claims that the agency has not followed its own procedures on when to conduct workplace inspections.

Baltimore Sun

Association Between Social Vulnerability and a County’s Risk for Becoming a COVID-19 Hotspot — United States, June 1–July 25, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published an article on COVID-19 and social vulnerability. Communities with higher social vulnerabilities, including poverty and crowded housing units, have more adverse outcomes during and following a public health event.


COVID-19–Associated Hospitalizations Among Health Care Personnel — COVID-NET, 13 States, March 1–May 31, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published an article on COVID-19 hospitalizations. Analysis of COVID-19 hospitalization data from 13 sites indicated that 6% of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 were Health Care Personnel (HCP). Among HCP hospitalized with COVID-19, 36% were in nursing-related occupations, and 73% had obesity.


Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Requests Input on Proposed Significant New Use Rules for 45 Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in accordance with the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, is seeking comment on proposed significant new use rules for 45 chemical substances that are subject to agency premanufacture notices. A notice published in the Oct. 9 Federal Register states that each rule “would require persons to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the manufacture or processing of any of these chemical substances for an activity proposed as a significant new use.”

Safety and Health Magazine

Federal Register

Interventions and Communication Strategies to Reduce Health Risks of Wildland Fire Smoke Exposures

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing research that will address behavioral, technical and practical aspects of interventions and communication strategies to reduce exposures and/or health risks of wildland fire smoke. The closing date to apply is Dec. 15.


‘Multiple Perspectives’: CSB Releases First ‘Learning Review’ on Combustible Dust

Managing and controlling combustible dust should be considered a unique hazard – not simply “tidying up the place,” the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) says in a recently released learning review document that includes input from workers and industry stakeholders.

Safety and Health Magazine

NIOSH Signs MOU with National Fire Protection Association

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in collaboration with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Fire Protection Research Foundation on Oct. 22. The 10-year agreement pertains to activities related to emergency responder personal protective equipment and the development of standards that concern first responder safety, deployment, operations, and the protection of emergency personnel.

Occupational Health and Safety

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

UCLA LOSH Featured on Unions and Conservation Episode of the Accidental Safety Pro Podcast

In this episode of The Accidental Safety Pro Podcast, Series host Jill James interviews Yodit Semu. Yodit was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is a 35-year-old educator in sustainability practices. She is also currently the coordinator of the environmental career worker training program at University of California Los Angeles’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Division.

Vivid Learning Systems

Scientists Studying How to Use Virtual Reality to Train Responders for Post-Pandemic Disasters

Funded by the Worker Training Program (WTP) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), researchers at Charles River were just beginning to create a virtual reality (VR) system to support HAZWOPER training when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The U.S. government passed a bill for $8.3 billion dollars of supplemental coronavirus funding; Charles River won an additional grant to extend their project called IMPRINT to deal with the complications of COVID-19.

Charles River Analytics

Nursing Professor Works to Improve Health for Correctional Officers

University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell Asst. Prof. of Nursing Mazen El Ghaziri and a colleague have been selected by the National Institute of Corrections to create a workplace training program aimed at improving job health and safety for the nation’s 500,000 correctional officers and staff, who are at high risk of injury, stress, obesity and premature death.

UMass Lowell News [Author: Katharine Webster]

Job OpeningsBack to Top

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

NCFH Seeks Manager of Communications and Product Development

This position is responsible for the National Center for Farmworker Health’s (NCFH) corporate communications to promote NCFH mission, products and services, highlight partnerships, and enhance corporate public image through NCFH communication channels to include website, E-digest, constant contact, e-groups, social media channels, etc.

Job Posting

UMN Seeks Midwest Consortium Coordinator Position

This position will coordinate and help manage the administration of the Midwest Consortium in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota (UMN) School of Public Health. The Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training (MWC) delivers model training programs to workers and residents who may be exposed to hazardous substances through 13 training centers in 9 states.

Job Posting

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