Bullard-Sherwood Research to Practice (r2p) Award Winners and Honorable Mentions: Background, 2010

  • Title: Construction Equipment Visibility and the Development of Blind Area Diagrams: An Intermediate Output of the NORA Traumatic Injury Research Project, Evaluating Roadway Construction Work Zone Interventions and the Public Health Practice Project, Transfer Evaluation Results into Road Construction Practice
  • Authors: Fosbroke D, Griffin C, Ruff T, Hause M, Lincoln J, Newbraugh B, Hendricks S, Hammer B, Perritt K, Bowyer M, Merinar T, Ammons D, Whisler R
  • Source: Division of Safety Research
  • Background: Each year, workers in the highway, street, and bridge construction industry face dual hazards of being struck by traffic passing through work zones and being run over by construction equipment operating within work zones. Since 2002, workers in this industry suffer an average of 138 fatal occupational injuries annually, or approximately 10% of the industry’s worker deaths, while only representing 5% of the construction workforce. Being struck by construction equipment is a leading cause of fatalities in work zones.
  • Relevance: To reduce equipment-related fatalities, NIOSH researchers developed blind area diagrams to assist in visualizing the areas around various construction vehicles and equipment that are unable to be seen from the operator’s position. These diagrams are widely available on the NIOSH Construction Equipment Visibility web page, Google Images, and have been added to multiple websites, search engines, industry e-magazines, and listservs maintained by federal agencies, industry and professional associations, insurance companies, and labor unions, expanding the reach and access to this information.

Blind Area Diagrams have been utilized for various purposes to educate construction companies. Several construction companies have requested scaled diagrams to use and have placed decals on company construction equipment. Manufacturers of reflective materials, hard hat mirrors, and proximity warning devices use these diagrams in their advertising materials to highlight the hazards of working around equipment. An industry trade association obtained funding from the Federal Highway Administration to develop and print a poster titled, “Know the Blind Spots,” for distribution at conferences and through the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. Blind area diagrams were also incorporated into training materials developed by the Federal Highway Administration Roadway Safety Training Consortium Grantees, the North American Association of Transportation Safety and Health Officials, and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

More information about Construction Equipment Visibility can be found at:

Honorable Mention:

  • Title: Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program
  • Authors: Wolfe A, Attfield M, Baston T, Beaty M, Beeckman-Wagner L, Boutin B, DeVor L, Englehart S, Fedan K, Freeland D, Hale J, Hayes J, Hull H, Keller J, Kiser H, Lawson J, Markle T, Marstiller M, Mogyoros L, Morris L, Petsko R, Petsonk EL, Pyles L, Ryan M, Spainhour D, Taylor J, Tift B, Wang ML, Werntz C, White R, Wolfe M
  • Source: Division of Respiratory Disease Studies
  • Background: The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 is intended to protect the health and safety of underground coal miners. This Act directs NIOSH to study the causes and consequences of coal-related respiratory disease and, in cooperation with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), carry out a program for early detection and prevention of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP). These activities are administered through the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). This program is crucially important in documenting general trends and patterns in the prevalence of radiographic evidence of CWP in U.S. underground coal mines. Analysis of the data for miners who participated in the program from 1996 to 2002 suggested that certain groups of miners were at elevated risk.
  • Relevance: To further investigate CWP findings and trends, NIOSH initiated the Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP) in 2005 to provide outreach to coal miners, especially in geographical regions of concern, thereby increasing participation in surveillance and further facilitating prevention. ECWHSP uses a newly acquired state-of-the art mobile medical examination unit. As a result of the ECWHSP, there was a dramatic increase in the number of miners served. From the beginning of the ECWHSP through about September 2008; NIOSH has visited 13 states, conducting site surveys in over 70 different counties, resulting in approximately 6,900 x-rays and pulmonary function examinations. These findings have been disseminated in MMWRs, scientific papers and presentation and numerous news articles, as well as have been cited by MSHA as a motivation for a new initiative to end black lung.

The findings from the ECWHSP and CWHSP have provided important information of relevance to coal miner health and disease prevention. Specifically, these finding provide critical information to compliance authorities, helping them to focus on critical problems facing miner operators and miners now and in the future. These results have assisted in prompting MSHA to begin an important new disease-prevention program: “Act Now, End Black Lung!” as well as in motivating a revision of the federal coal mining regulations. Preliminary information indicates that there is an interest on reducing the compliance standard for silica and improving the current method of exposure assessment.

More information about the Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program can be found at:

  • Title: Partnerships for Hearing Preservation in Agriculture
  • Authors: Ehlers J, Graydon P, Stephenson C
  • Source: Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies
  • Background: Research has shown that farmers are exposed to excessive noise, with exposure often beginning during childhood. Most farmers do not use hearing protection devices (HPD) and experience greater hearing loss, even as adolescents, than those who are not exposed to loud noise. In addition, research has demonstrated that those with hearing loss have greater rates of work-related injuries. Some research has also demonstrated that when farmers are educated about noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) they increase their use of HPD, and that positive changes in HPD use are considered a successful means of reducing noise exposure and NIHL.
  • Relevance: Partnerships for Hearing Preservation in Agriculture brought together experts in noise, NIHL, and prevention who were considered likely to influence and motivate farmers to use HPD. NIOSH engaged multiple influential organizations across the United States who were crucial in outreach efforts with the farming community, as well as, assisted with developing and disseminating two educational brochures: “They’re Your Ears: Protect Them” and “Have you Heard? Hearing Loss Caused by Farm Noise is Preventable.” Hundreds of thousands of brochures have been disseminated through NIOSH and key stakeholders. Currently both brochures are being translated into Spanish. In addition to promoting educational materials, NIOSH has assisted with several workshops and other events. Another component of Partnerships for Hearing Preservation in Agriculture dealt with personal music players used by young farm workers. To address the faming community’s concerns and complement the educational materials, NIOSH partnered with Dangerous Decibels to obtain a mannequin designed to engage youth and demonstrate how loud noise can impact their hearing. Information is available so individuals can build their own mannequin, and currently 7 mannequins are available for demonstrations. Educational efforts have been enhanced greatly due to key national partners.

More information about Partnerships for Hearing Preservation in Agriculture can be found at:

Honorable Mention:

  • Title: In-Mine Nitrogen Gas Generation System
  • Authors: Trevits M, Thibou M, Haggerty S, Phan S, Hatch G, Wolf R
  • Source: Office of Mine Safety and Health Research
  • Background: Mine seals are used in underground coal mines throughout the United States to isolate abandoned mining areas from active mines. The purpose of adding inert gas to a sealed mine area is to quickly reduce the oxygen concentration in the sealed area to a level that will not support combustion. In the U.S., this process is typically conducted from the ground surface, and because surface-to-mine access is inhibited by so many variables it is very difficult to provide a source of inert gas underground.
  • Relevance: To alleviate this problem, NIOSH contracted with On Site Gas System, a designer and manufacture of nitrogen and oxygen equipment to built a nitrogen generation plant that operates underground. Adding inert gas such as nitrogen to a sealed mine area reduced the oxygen level in the sealed mine atmosphere to the point where it would not support combustion. On Site Gas System developed the N-300 CMI generator which provides mine operators with a nitrogen-inerting system for rapid deployment and easy movement throughout the mine to make and inject nitrogen gas at the mine seal. The generator offers a faster, safer, and more economical solution to reducing oxygen levels below the combustible limit of 10%. The result is a safer environment in the shortest amount of time. This technology has been fully embraced as a significant achievement by the mining industry and provides a means to eliminate dangerous conditions; thus potentially playing a primary role in reducing mine explosion-related injury and fatality.

More information about In-Mine Nitrogen Gas Generation System can be found at:

  • Title: Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Marine Industry
  • Authors: Garcia A, Hall R, Dunn KH, Earnest GS, Hammond D, McCleery R, McCammon J, Bennett J, Marlow D, Almaguer D, Clark B, Farwick DR, Farwick D, Blade L, Echt A, Topmiller J, Gressel M, Kovein R, Booher D, Esswein E, Tapp L, Dunn KL, Zimmer A, Grote A
  • Source: Division of Applied Research and Technology
  • Background: In August 2000, the National Park Service requested assistance from NIOSH and the US Coast Guard (USCG) to evaluate visitor and employee carbon monoxide (CO) exposures from generators and propulsion engines on houseboats. This initial investigation characterized CO poisonings through epidemiologic data gathering and the measurement of severely hazardous CO concentrations on houseboats at Lake Powell in Utah. Since that initial investigation, more than 600 boating-related poisonings in 35 states have been identified with more than 100 of these poisonings resulting in death. More than 250 of the poisonings occurred on houseboats, with more than 200 of these poisonings attributed to generator exhaust alone. Initial investigations conducted by NIOSH industrial hygienists and engineers showed very high concentrations of CO on and around houseboats using gasoline-powered generators.
  • Relevance: Following these investigations, NIOSH worked closely with boat and marine engine manufacturers and trade associations to define the extent of the hazard, determine employee exposures, and develop novel engineering controls to mitigate the CO hazard. After characterizing the problem the team developed and evaluated prototype controls. Both engineering controls have been shown to lower exposures to CO by over 98%; lowering exposure to safe levels. The impact of this work is national in scope resulting in comprehensive Environmental Protection Agency regulations that dramatically reduce CO emissions from all new marine engines beginning in 2009. The team undertook an extensive effort to increase awareness of the problem by enlisting the help of state health departments, boat safety organizations, and other public health groups. Findings have been published in over 25 reports and 5 journal articles.

In addition, numerous marine regulations have been enacted based upon NIOSH research; the USCG has issued a regulation requiring all houseboats to reroute exhaust from under the swim platform; the American Boat and Yacht Council is modifying its standards for generator exhaust to include exhaust stacks; the National Park Service is developing regulations for boats used at National Parks; several major houseboat rental companies have retrofitted their entire fleet with control systems; and there have been numerous Congressional bills and state regulations to address this problem.

More information about Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Marine Industry can be found at:


  • Title: Personal Dust Monitor
  • Authors: Volkwein J, Vinson R, Page S, Mischler S, Joy G, Tuchman D, McWilliams L, Garbowsky C, Zimmer J, Vanderslice S, Archer W
  • Source: Office of Mine Safety and Health Research
  • Background: In the mid-90s the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Assistant Secretary of Labor formed a stakeholder committee to make recommendations to eliminate black lung in coal mine workers in the United States. Among the recommendations was the development of more timely and effective monitoring of worker exposure to coal mine dust. In response to this need NIOSH formed a partnership with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA), the National Mining Association (NMA), MSHA, and manufacturers to conduct research. This devastating disease continues to affect the lives of many miners and communities in coal-producing regions.
  • Relevance: This program’s work has resulted in the Personal Dust Montior (PDM) 3600, an innovative product that was introduced commercially in July 2009 and manufactured by Thermo Fisher Scientific. Use of the PDM provides miners and their managers accurate information for the first time on a continuous real-time basis to measure and reduce the personal exposure to respirable coal mine dust. The PDM is an intrinsically safe, accurate, and rugged microbalance that measures the mass of dust in a precise volume of air to determine an exposure concentration. It is miniaturized, built into the miners cap lamp battery pack, and can be worn daily without interfering with normal work practice. Dust exposure and other environmental data are stored in memory for electronic record keeping. In 2009, continuous personal dust monitors were written into a new CFR 30 74 MSHA rule in order to permit use of the PDM for mine dust exposure compliance measurements. Exactly how this new tool can be best used is a major current thrust of MSHA’s recently announced “End Black Lung” program.

The PDM changes the paradigm of how worker exposure is measured. In addition, awareness of worker exposure levels and knowledge from the PDM empowers both management and miners to improve workplace safety and health and prevent overexposure to coal mine dust before it occurs.

More information about the Personal Dust Monitor can be found at:

Page last reviewed: April 26, 2012