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Volume 9 Number 5 September 2011
From the Director’s Desk
John Howard, M.D.
September eNews 2011
When the World Changed
Ten years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, our nation pauses to honor the memories of those who died and the heroism of the responders who saved others from death. As a national community, we extend our sympathy to those who suffered personal tragedy.
The attacks were a defining moment for emergency preparedness. Before 9/11, Federal, state, and local governments on average had done a pretty good job of preparing for disasters on a smaller scale, where the dangers were more predictable and more easily managed. Although occasional spasms of terrorism in the 1990s had prompted new attention by many to emerging needs in preparedness and response, the concern remained somewhat abstract in the general public consciousness.
With the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the anthrax attack that closely followed, we entered a new reality. We learned that mass destruction could be inflicted on a major U.S. urban center, and biological weapons could travel lethally through the mail. Our preparedness strategies for the 21st Century would have to incorporate such unprecedented threats. In this imperative, there was a natural role, and a central role, for occupational safety and health professionals.
As we saw in the attacks in 2001, occupational safety, health, and security needs are interlocked for the people who work in public and commercial buildings, the responders who likely are the first to arrive at the scene of an attack, and the men and women who staff transportation security. We in the occupational safety and health community were mobilized to apply skills that had served the nation well in reducing job-related injury and illness in traditional workplaces. We were asked to adapt existing tools to new uses. We were challenged to solve complex technical problems for which we had no precedent to follow.
I am gratified that NIOSH has been an integral part of those initiatives, and that we have worked diligently with diverse partners to meet ongoing needs for national preparedness, safety, and security. As I have seen in my role as the WTC Program Administrator, investments in preparedness are strategic investments in occupational and public health. Many of the products and resources from NIOSH’s efforts with partners in helping to strengthen preparedness over the past decade have become standard features of today’s emergency preparedness programs.
For responders: During and after the rescue, recovery, and cleanup at Ground Zero, issues relating to personal protective equipment came front and center. Fire fighters and other responders sought assurance that they can rely on the respirators with which they are equipped, particularly in first response at sites where chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) weapons might have been deployed. Starting within months of 9/11, NIOSH began to develop new standards for testing and certifying various types of respirators for protection against CBRN exposure. Under federal procurement rules, any agencies purchasing respirators for responders with U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds must select devices certified to these CBRN standards. NIOSH has also worked with manufacturers and technical standards organizations to promote greater compatibility among respirator components, advance greater compatibility in communication systems at emergency sites, and develop performance-based requirements for CBRN-protective clothing.
For building occupants: NIOSH and partners developed cornerstone guidance documents for protecting public and commercial buildings from CBRN contamination, /niosh/docs/2002-139/ and for designing filtration and air-cleaning systems to safeguard the indoor environment from airborne CBRN particles /niosh/docs/2003-136/ . The Federal Emergency Management Administration incorporated substantial portions of those documents into their training manuals, training 6,000 building and security managers annually and supplying information so far to more than 250,000 people seeking guidance.
For transportation security personnel: NIOSH has worked with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), its employees and employee representatives, and equipment manufacturers to evaluate concerns about baggage screeners’ potential exposures to radiation from baggage screening machines. NIOSH produced findings and practical recommendations to minimize those potential occupational exposures /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2003-0206-3067.pdf .
For postal, security, and office workers: Following the 9/11 anthrax attacks, NIOSH worked closely with the U.S. Postal Service to evaluate control technologies and biohazard detection systems to reduce postal workers’ potential exposure to anthrax and other hazardous biological agents during mail processing. NIOSH also helped to develop a faster, more sensitive method to detect exposure to anthrax, hastening treatment for anyone already exposed and controls to protect others who may be at risk.
In strengthening preparedness for disasters resulting from human aggression, we also improve preparedness for natural disasters and those associated with unintended disruptions or failures of industrial process systems. For example, from the experience at Ground Zero, where no organized system was in place to reliably identify and track the thousands of people who came on site to help in rescue and recovery, we were reminded that it is essential to have a roster of responders in a large-scale emergency. A roster identifying individuals, providing contact information, and including at least basic information about their duties is a critical resource for addressing later concerns about potential long-term health effects. In the Deepwater Horizon response of 2010, NIOSH staff deployed to the Gulf worked tenaciously to roster more than 55,500 containment, cleanup, and wildlife rehabilitation workers and volunteers. The roster will provide a fundamental tool for studies to track potential effects over time /niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/workerroster.html .
Similarly, NIOSH has also proposed an overarching framework for ensuring responder safety and health by monitoring and conducting surveillance of responders’ health and safety during the entire cycle of emergency response, including the pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment phases of a response. The proposed system, the "Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)" system, includes a guidance section describing the principles involved in ensuring optimal responder safety and health, as well as tools which can be utilized to help facilitate the execution of these principles during an actual response. NIOSH recently completed public review and peer review of the draft document which proposes the framework. We have submitted the document for review and approval to the National Response Team - which coordinates the Federal Government’s emergency preparedness program - and the document will be field-tested in coming months in federal emergency response exercises /niosh/docket/archive/docket223.html .
"We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who risked their lives to save others," President Obama said of the heroes of 9/11. As we observe the 10th Anniversary of the attacks and honor those heroes and their families, we renew our dedication to conducting the research and technical assistance vital for protecting the responders and workers of 2011 and beyond.
On September 1, NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., released a statement for Labor Day 2011 recognizing and honoring the contributions of working men and women across the country. Read the full statement at /niosh/updates/upd-09-1-11.html\
Join NIOSH for the upcoming National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS) on October 18–20 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia. The NOIRS is the only national forum focused on the presentation of occupational injury research findings, data, and methods. /niosh/noirs/2011/default.html
Spread the word! The NIOSH FACE Program has launched a new Twitter page @NIOSHFACE. Please follow us at www.twitter.com/NIOSHFACE.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Contact Center (CDC-INFO) announces new hours of operation. CDC-INFO will have representatives available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday, but closed all other days and times including all federal holidays. http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/
NIOSH encourages employers to take advantage of campaign materials on preventing distracted driving, available for free download from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). The 2011 Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) tool kit was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The theme of this year’s campaign is "Focus360°…Getting there safely is everyone’s business." For information on NIOSH research and publications on motor vehicle safety, go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/motorvehicle.
In the next couple of months, the NIOSH exhibits will be on the road and attending conferences and symposia around the country. See our "Upcoming Conferences and Workshops" list below to find out if they will be coming to a meeting near you!
New peer-reviewed scientific articles about adverse health conditions among fire fighters, other rescue and recovery workers, and survivors of the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attack were published in a special issue of The Lancet. The articles will be added to the list of peer-reviewed articles on the World Trade Center Health Program page at /niosh/topics/wtc/science.html. New, peer-reviewed information will be incorporated in the second periodic review of scientific and medical evidence related to cancer, which is expected to be conducted in early to mid-2012.
Effective September 1, public comment is being accepted on the World Trade Center Health Program Enrollment, Appeals, and Reimbursement proposed data collections. Written comments should be received within 60 days of the notice. http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-22395.htm
Beth Whelan, Cincinnati Leadership Program Participant....
Beth is a branch chief in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation and Field Studies, in Cincinnati. The 10-month Cincinnati Leadership Program focuses on creating a regional culture of innovation in the areas of education, economic development, inclusion, justice, arts and culture, healthcare, human services, and sustainability. She is the first federal employee selected for the 35-year-old program. http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20110813/BIZ01/108130351/
Srinivas Durgam recipient of NORA New Investigator Award....
Srini is an industrial hygienist with the Health Hazard Evaluation Program. He won this award from the NORA Manufacturing Sector for his abstract, "Exposure Assessment at an Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide Processing Plant." Srini will present this research and receive his award during the 2011 NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference: Partnerships to Improve Occupational Safety and Health, in September. http://www.team-psa.com/NORAMNF2011/aboutNora.asp
The Connecticut Legislature recently passed two state laws aimed at protecting worker health and safety that observers characterize as the first state laws of their kind in the nation. Public Act 11–52 mandates that employers with 50 or more employees provide paid sick leave to employees who work 10 or more hours a week at a rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Providing paid sick leave to workers reduces presenteeism (reporting for work when sick) and allows workers time to schedule preventative care, both which can significantly improve overall worker health and productivity. Public Act 11–101 prohibits the use of flammable gas during pipe cleaning at electric generating facilities in the state. This legislation was created in response to an explosion resulting from the use of flammable natural gas to clean fuel gas piping at a power plant under construction in Middletown, CT, which killed six workers. Copies of the new laws are available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/.
HHE Program investigators evaluated symptoms that health clinic employees believed to be related to ongoing indoor environmental quality problems in the building. Investigators found that several employees reported having multiple symptoms when in the clinic, but many of these symptoms occurred when the building was being renovated. HHE Program investigators recommended that managers seal off areas of the building that are being renovated and notify employees about what they are doing to address employee concerns.
HHE Program investigators evaluated concerns about employees’ exposures during cleaning and maintaining pit and composting toilets at a national park. Investigators determined that ammonia concentrations were higher when the pit toilets were opened than when composting toilets were opened. Investigators also found thermophilic bacteria in the air when employees were working with composting toilets. Investigators recommended that the park start a voluntary vaccination program for hepatitis A virus, which maintenance crew employees may be exposed to when handling untreated human waste and trash, and hepatitis B virus for the trail and toilet maintenance crews, because they may be exposed to the virus while doing other job duties as first responders.
HHE Program investigators evaluated a middle school, which they had evaluated a year prior, to reassess indoor environmental quality after mold remediation and remodeling had been completed. Investigators found that carbon dioxide levels in three classrooms were higher than recommended guidelines and found small amounts of mold growth under wood furniture and in the hallways. Investigators recommended that managers start an indoor environmental quality management program and provide at least the minimum recommended amount of outdoor air to classrooms and the library and follow current comfort guidelines for temperature and relative humidity.
NIOSH State FACE investigators determined that the following factors may have contributed to the death of a worker: the company supervisor was not aware of the hazards or proper procedures for changing tires on multipiece rims, the employment agency was not notified that the tasks assigned to their laborers included changing tires on multipiece rims, and the worker did not receive adequate training on changing tires on multipiece rims. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/10CA001.html
NIOSH State FACE investigators determined that the following factors may have contributed to the death of a worker: the lack of performing a hazard assessment before land-surveying work commenced, not having a comprehensive written safety program, and not being prudent when surveying on land near roadways by erecting safety cones and warning signage to slow down motorists. /niosh/face/stateface/ky/09KY079.html
A tip-over of an airplane tail stand while it was being moved resulted in the death of an airport cargo handler. Approximately one hour before the fatal incident, a different tail stand was damaged and nearly tipped over while being used under similar conditions; however, no corrective action was taken. The worker was working his second consecutive eight-hour shift. /niosh/face/stateface/nj/07NJ038.html
NIOSH investigators determined that the following factors may have contributed to the deaths of two career fire fighters and the injuries of 19 other fire fighters: no abandoned/ hazardous building marking program, no vacant/hazardous building information as part of an automatic dispatch system, the dilapidated condition of the structure, a dispatch that occurred during shift change that resulted in fragmented crews, weather conditions including snow accumulation on the roof and frozen water hydrants, and not all fire fighters were equipped with radios. /niosh/fire/reports/face201038.html
Due to unforeseen events, the MMH Workshop, previously planned for Cincinnati in October, has been moved to a larger venue that provides a unique opportunity for the participants to take advantage of the MODEX 2012 expo (http://www.MODEXshow.com). Plan to attend the workshop and an event that will change how you view the supply chain in your company operations (http://www.eh.uc.edu/MMHworkshop/). For more information, contact Vern Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Isocyanates are potentially harmful chemicals used in occupational settings that range from application of paints and varnishes to creating rigid and flexible foams and fibers. NIOSH research led to the development of the reagent 1-(9-anthracenylmethyl) piperazine (MAP), which can be used to measure workplace exposures to isocyanates. The MAP reagent was originally synthesized by NIOSH researchers and provided to external researchers and laboratories upon request. Now, it is commercially available at Chemical Standards Laboratory, DBA Chemical Service Laboratories (www.chemicalstandards.com). To learn more about the MAP reagent contact Robert Streicher at email@example.com or go to the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods and see Method 5525. Mention of this company name does not constitute a NIOSH commercial endorsement.
Extreme temperatures hit many areas across the country this summer, and sadly the news has been full of stories about the lives lost due to heat stroke. While newscasters warn to stay out of the heat, many workers do not have that option while on the job. Keeping workers cool and well-hydrated are the best ways to protect them when working in hot environments. Read more at /niosh/blog/
A list of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices for 2011 is available at /niosh/fedreg.html.
This NIOSH guideline is based upon accepted recommendations and provides technical and operational guidance for radiographic facilities and physician readers who obtain digital chest radiographs for the evaluation of pneumoconiosis. /niosh/docs/2011-198/
Recommendations for Refuge Chamber Operations Training
Man Mountain’s Refuge: Refuge Chamber Training, Instructor’s Guide and Trainee’s Problem Book
A full list of all new NIOSH communication products is available at /niosh/whatsnew/
Healthier Federal Workers 2011
September 14–16, Washington DC
Eliminating Health and Safety Disparities at Work
September 14–15, Chicago, IL
The Bluefield Coal Show —Look for us!
September 14–16, Bluefield, WV
Association of Occupational Professionals in Healthcare —Look for us!
September 28–October 1, Minneapolis, MN
Pennsylvania Governors Occupational Safety and Health Conference—Look for us!
October 3–4, Hershey PA
Shannon Safety Products /ASSE Western PA Chapter 2011 Safety Conference—Look for us!
October 6, Pittsburgh, PA
2011 TRAM/National Mine Instructors Seminar—Look for us!
October 11–13, Beaver, WV
National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
October 18-20, Morgantown, WV
International Association of Chiefs of Police—Look for us!
October 22–26, Chicago, IL
2011 SME/PCMIA Annual Joint Meeting—Look for us!
October 28–29, Canonsburg, PA
139th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA)
October 29-November 2, Washington, DC
National Safety Council—Look for us!
October 31–November 2, Philadelphia, PA
5th International Entertainment Education Conference (EE5
November 17–20, New Delhi
A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at /niosh/exhibits.html.
CDC-INFO — a source for information on a wide variety of disease prevention and health promotion topics. Representatives are available to answer your questions in English and Spanish. http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/
Please send your comments and suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This newsletter is published monthly via email by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to inform members of the public health community as well as interested members of the general public of Institute related news, new publications, and updates on existing programs and initiatives.
- Page last reviewed: September 9, 2011
- Page last updated: September 9, 2011
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director