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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: September 25, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, September 25, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

September 25, 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

Mental Health Challenges Rise as Remote Work Arrangements Drag On

Eagle Hill, a consulting firm based in Arlington, Va., surveyed 1,000 workers in August and 55% of them said they were dealing with burnout, up from 45% of those surveyed in the early days of the pandemic. Of those experiencing burnout, nearly half blamed the increased workload, while 39% cited balancing work and personal life, and 37% attributed it to a lack of communication and feedback.

Denver Post [Author: Aldo Svaldi]

Safe Drug Use After a Natural Disaster

An emergency plan is especially important for those with health concerns, particularly if the power goes out. Taking precautions for storing medications and supplies is key to being prepared. Patients should: Keep an up-to-date list of their medications, including dose and indicated use.

Philadelphia Tribune

Chemical Safety Board to Investigate North Carolina Mill Fire

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board deployed a team to investigate a fire at the Evergreen Packaging Mill in Canton, N.C., that killed two workers. The fire occurred at 5:15 a.m. on Sept. 21 in a tank that was being repaired during planned maintenance at the facility, according to a CSB release. The Canton plant manufactures a variety of liquid packaging board, cupstock, and commercial paper products, according to Evergreen’s website.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Fatima Hussein]

Suit Over EPA’s Chemical Safety Rollback Paused for Second Time

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached agreement with the United Steelworkers union and a group of states and environmental groups to pause a case that challenges the agency’s rollback of chemical-plant safety regulations. The agency and parties contesting its regulatory action filed a joint motion at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sept. 21.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Fatima Hussein]

DOD Approaches Goal of Destroying All Stockpiled Chemical Weapons

This month, the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant team at the Army's Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado completed the destruction of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles, which each contained 12 pounds of mustard agent, said Walton Levi, site project manager.

Department of Defense News [Author: David Vergun]

Hanford Workers Put at Risk by Improper Respirator Maintenance

Two Hanford nuclear reservation contractors are not consistently following requirements to maintain respiratory equipment to protect hundreds of workers from inhaling radioactive and other hazardous chemicals, according to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report.

HeraldNet [Author: Annette Cary]

DOE Audit Report

School Nurses Are at the Front Lines of Epidemic as Schools Reopen

Across the country, school nurses are adjusting to the new normal of the epidemic. They’re still managing everything from skinned knees and allergic reactions, to chronic disease care and mental health issues. But now they’re also on the front lines of trying to stop the spread of the new coronavirus as schools reopen.

Today [Author: A. Pawlowitski]

U.S. Is Falling Further Behind Rivals in Meat-Worker Safety

The U.S. government is falling behind global rivals when it comes to protecting meatpacking workers from COVID-19 infections, even though the nation’s plants were among the first to confront rampant cases across factories.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Mike Dorning, Brian Parkin, and Ainslie Chandler]

COVID-19 Infections Continue at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Total Cases at 36

Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) continued to report COVID-19 infections, bringing the facility’s total to 36 positive cases of the virus. Between Sept. 10 and 15, WIPP reported two employees received positive test results for the virus. “The Department of Energy and (Nuclear Waste Partnership) continue to work with all employees to ensure Department of Health and CDC guidelines are followed,” the release said.

Carlsbad Current-Argus [Author: Adrien Hedden]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Making Sense of COVID-19 Data

The Region IV Public Health Training Center (PHTC) is hosting a webinar with Amber Schmidtke, PhD, scheduled for Sept. 30 from 12:00-1:30 pm ET. Public health data are often imperfect, which means officials have to rely on multiple data streams to get a clearer picture of the present situation. Proper understanding of data with context is the antidote to disinformation. This webinar will go through how to find and evaluate data, identifying the merits and challenges of different data sets, to make sure we have the right data to answer our questions.

Webinar Information

Southeast PEHSU and Break the Cycle of Health Disparities Training Program

The Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) at Emory University and Break the Cycle of Health Disparities, Inc. invites university students from a variety of disciplines to participate in our 16th Annual Break the Cycle of Children’s Environmental Health Disparities training program. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

More Information

Request for Information on Federal Coordination To Promote Economic Mobility for All Americans

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is publishing this Request for Information (RFI) to seek public input until Oct. 2 on the development of a federal interagency Council on Economic Mobility (Council). HHS and the Council will analyze information collected in this RFI to gather feedback from stakeholders to better inform the Council's priorities and how the Council can promote economic mobility, recovery, and resilience.

Federal Register

Federal Register Notice on Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators for Use in Healthcare

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)—in coordination with the Strategic National Stockpile—posted a Federal Register Notice (FRN). Elastomeric half mask respirators (EHMRs) are reusable respirators that may be worn in a healthcare setting and supplement the supply of disposable respirators available to healthcare workers. Comments must be received by Oct. 14.

Federal Register

Save the Date: Fall 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is offering a virtual seminar that will cover the NIH grant process. If you’re new to working with the NIH grants process as an investigator or administrator, then mark your calendar for Oct. 27-30 for a unique opportunity to learn, share and meet virtually with NIH and HHS experts.

NIH Extramural Nexus

JOEH Seeks Submissions for Special Issue on Health Equity in the Workplace

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) plans to publish a special issue on health equity in the workplace in May 2021. For this special issue, the journal seeks research on a range of topics, including how racial inequities affect workplace exposures and the effects of gender inequity on worker exposures and outcomes. The deadline to submit is Oct. 30.

More Information

EPA Calls for Nominations for 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. These prestigious awards recognize innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances. Nominations are due Dec. 4.


The Role of Work in Health Disparities in the United States Workshop

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is holding a workshop on Sept. 28-29. The goal of this two-day workshop is to identify priority research areas to understand and address the role of work as a social determinant that contributes to health disparities. This workshop will promote multidisciplinary health disparities research by convening experts from the research fields of health disparities, population sciences, labor economics, occupational health, epidemiology, and organizational sociology and psychology to consider work as a social determinant and identify potential mechanisms and interventions to address health disparities.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Toxic Floodwaters: The Threat of Climate-Driven Chemical Disaster in the James River Watershed

More than 1,000 flood-exposed industrial facilities in Virginia that use, store, or discharge toxic chemicals are located in or near communities that are socially vulnerable to disaster, according to a new report from the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR). With extreme storms and floods becoming more likely as human-driven climate change continues, such facilities threaten residents with potential contamination from chemical spills, an added burden for communities that already struggle with environmental justice challenges.

CPR Report

CPR Webinar

State Cites 19 Businesses, Totaling $51,400 in Penalties for COVID-19 Workplace Safety Violations

To further protect Michigan workers, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued COVID-19 “general duty” citations to 19 different businesses with serious violations for failing to uphold safety and health workplace guidelines, potentially putting workers in harm’s way.

The Daily Mining Gazette

Washington State Agencies Issue Hazard Alert for Local Hospitals

The Washington State Departments of Labor & Industries (L&I) and Health (DOH) updated their recommended hospital procedures via a state hazard alert on Sept. 17. The Hazard Alert, which was created to prevent the spread of coronavirus to hospital staff and patients, highlights things such as key worker safety and health requirements, proper use of PPE and the importance of a comprehensive infection control program.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Nikki Johnson-Bolden]

Ventilation, Filtration Considerations for COVID-19 Risk Management

Researchers are still learning about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how the coronavirus disease it causes is transmitted. They know infections occur in close contact between individuals, especially within 6 feet. They are less sure about transmission through contact with surfaces, although nearly all public health authorities still emphasize cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

EHS Daily Advisor [Author: Guy Burdick]

Studies Trace COVID-19 Spread to International Flights

Three studies published late last week describe in-flight COVID-19 transmission, with one involving a single symptomatic passenger who likely infected at least 12 others during an international flight.

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy [Author: Mary Van Beusekom]

Agricultural Pickers in U.S. to See Unsafely Hot Workdays Double by 2050

A new study from the University of Washington and Stanford University, published online in Environmental Research Letters, looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. Temperature increases by 2050 and 2100 in U.S. counties where crops are grown will double, then triple the number of unsafe workdays. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers' health.

Science Daily

Cal/OSHA Issues First COVID-19 Related Citations

In early September, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) announced that it cited 11 employers for not protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure. The inspections were conducted in industries where employees have an increased risk of exposure, including food processing, meatpacking, health care, agriculture and retail. The proposed penalties ranged from $2,025 to $51,190.


WHO Outlines Ways Governments, Health Care Leaders Can Keep Health Workers Safe Amid Pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) outlined five steps on Sept. 17 to help governments and health care leaders better protect health workers from violence, physical and biological hazards and improve their mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic. WHO is also calling for governments to advance national programs for health worker safety, and to connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies.

Fox News [Author: Daniella Genovese]

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Worker Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the U.S. is facing an unprecedented, massive worker safety crisis. Thousands of workers are at risk for workplace exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection as they provide care for patients with COVID-19 or perform other “essential” services and daily functions and interact with other workers or the public.

Journal of the American Medical Association Network

Amnesty International Report Says that More Health Workers Have Died in Mexico than Anywhere Else

The COVID-19 pandemic has heaped misery on Mexico, with more than 70 000 deaths, a tally surpassed only by the USA, Brazil, and India. The country has pursued a strategy of not testing widely or contact tracing, but instead monitoring hospital capacity to inform the relaxation of restrictions.

The Lancet

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Brownfields 2021 Will Now Be Held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 27-30, 2021

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a vibrant networking and learning environment for the Brownfields community. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA agree that the new September dates will allow for a more robust event in Oklahoma City, especially with regards to educational sessions and networking events.


Report: Lack of Planning Risks EPA’s Ability to Meet Toxic Substances Control Act Deadlines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General conducted an audit to determine whether the EPA met the deadlines already imposed by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in 2016, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, and has the staff, resources, and management controls in place to meet future statutory deadlines.


U.S. Health and Safety Body Issues $1.8m Research Grant for Work on Safer Ladder Design

A $1.8m grant from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been awarded to the University of Pittsburgh to create ladder designs that lower the risk of falls. The funding will be used to measure ladder design against two factors: required friction and available friction.

Global Construction Review

OSHA Awards $11M In Worker Safety And Health Training Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has awarded approximately $11.2 million in Susan Harwood federal safety and health training grants to 90 nonprofit organizations nationwide. The grants will provide education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize serious workplace hazards, including the coronavirus, implement injury prevention measures, and understand their rights.

Facility Executive

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

ECWTP 25th Anniversary Webpage Additions

The NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) continues the celebration of the program’s 25th anniversary. Be sure to check out the ECWTP 25th Anniversary webpage for new grantee and trainee spotlights, as well as new photos on the multimedia page.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

MCN Seeks Program Manager for Migrant and Immigrant Health

Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is hiring a full time Program Manager for Migrant and Immigrant Health. This position, located in Salisbury, Maryland, is responsible for managing a COVID-19 and infectious disease project targeting immigrants, migrants, and refugees and the clinicians who serve them.  It involves extensive networking with clinicians, public health professionals, researchers, and organizations and community-based groups.

Job Posting

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