NIOSH eNews

Volume 14 Number 1 (May 2016)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Climate Change

On April 4, 2016, the U.S. Global Change Research ProgramExternal released a new assessment of the growing public health threat of climate change. The report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment,” identified the many ways in which climate change is already threatening the health of all Americans and the significant public health challenges it is expected to create. The health threats covered by the report were identified as increases in human risk related to temperature-related death and illness; air quality impacts; extreme events such as droughts, floods, and wildfires; vector-borne disease; water-related illnesses; food safety, nutrition, and distribution; and mental health and well-being. One key feature of the report was the identification of individuals and groups, including workers, most likely to experience the effects of climate change on their health and well-being.

NIOSH contributed to the development of the reportExternal as part of a coordinated effort by more than 100 experts from eight federal agencies with different but complementary roles under this mandate. The impacts that climate change will have on workers were highlighted throughout the report and in a special section describing vulnerable occupational groups.

In addition to the threats that all Americans face, many workers may experience longer or more intense exposures to climate change–related hazards than the general public, making them particularly vulnerable to the health impacts. Watch the news during an extreme weather event, or wildfire, and you will see rescue and response workers moving toward the most hazardous locations at the same time the general public is being evacuated. We saw this most recently, at the time of this writing, with responders rescuing people stranded by rising water in their homes and cars during the terrible floods in Houston. Picture agriculture or construction workers during periods of extreme heat. They may have little control over the location or timing of their work tasks, potentially placing them at higher risk of heat related–illness or injury than people who are free to seek shade at any time. Think also of the working conditions in warehouses and factories without climate control as the area of the country affected by high temperatures continues to expand, or of the maintenance worker in Alaska who finds that higher than usual temperatures mean the ice on the frozen river he usually drives his pick-up truck across isn’t as strong as he thought.

In 2009, at a time when many climate and health reports and activities did not include workers, NIOSH investigators published a frameworkExternal for identifying how climate change could affect the workplace; workers; and occupational morbidity, mortality, and injury. The framework contributed to greater interest in this issue among researchers and government agencies. An update to the framework, summarizing new research findings, is due to be published later this year. In April last year, I recommended the establishment of a sustained NIOSH Climate Change Initiative. The Initiative is tasked with improving our understanding of the impacts of climate change on worker safety and health and how workers can be protected from this threat. Over the last year the Initiative has led to increased awareness of the problem in the climate change and occupational safety and health communities. Going forward, the Initiative will promote and support the research needed to identify the most vulnerable occupational groups, highest priority hazards, and preventive interventions.

The health threat from climate change is so wide ranging that no single profession or organization can tackle the issue alone. Collaborative activities such as the U.S. Global Change Research Program are essential in identifying and preventing the health effects of climate change, which do not respect jurisdictional boundaries nor disciplinary distinctions. By continuing to take an active role in these collaborative efforts, NIOSH and other occupational safety and health organizations and professionals will be able to ensure that the specific needs of workers are integrated into climate and health activities and included in conversations about how our nation responds to climate change.

As we continue to investigate exactly what, and how large, the occupational safety and health impacts of climate change will be, we know that climate change is already placing the nation’s workers at risk physically and psychologically. Protecting workers from climate change–related hazards will require employers and occupational safety and health professionals to understand the potential adverse impacts of climate change on specific worker populations and develop plans to keep those workers safe and healthy. A variety of resources that support the development of these plans — covering topics ranging from tick-borne diseases and heat stress to green, safe, and healthy jobs — are available on the NIOSH website. For example, the recently released Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments provides updated guidance on risk management for workers exposed to heat and hot environments. As additional information and evidence becomes available, we will continue to share it widely. Through awareness and research, we can increase our knowledge of climate change and anticipate the impact on workers, effectively respond, and implement effective prevention strategies. Please see our climate change topic page for more information.

Workers Memorial Day: Statement by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

On April 28, NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard released his annual Workers Memorial Day Statement. He noted in the statement that “this Workers Memorial Day, while we pay homage to those who have been hurt or killed on the job, we must also focus on the future of the workplace and continue to produce knowledge and solutions that are vital to reducing risks of injury and illness among the America’s workforce until the number of deaths is zero.”

Annual Award Ceremony Recognizes Occupational Safety and Health Contributions

On April 28, NIOSH recognized several NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health over the past year. The annual awards are an opportunity for NIOSH to honor researchers for excellence in science that informs and supports the prevention of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

NIOSH Construction Releases Videos & Infographics; Learn More On Twitter

Join the now 16,000 other followers on Twitter @NIOSHConstruct and receive updates on new resources from the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health. @NIOSHConstruct is the second most popular account in terms of followers, behind the main NIOSH account, @NIOSH. The office is currently featuring three new videos about safety practices at a roofing and solar company. Hear from safety directors as they give insight into their fall protection programs and how their companies help prevent fatal falls: DaveExternal will tell you how fall protection is achievable, and GustavoExternal will share how fall protection allows his men to go home safely at the end of the day. (See Gustavo tell his story in Spanish.External) See some of the risks construction workers face and what steps you can take to prevent falls with these new CPWR and NIOSH co-branded infographics.

Latest Edition of NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) Now Available

NIOSH has released the 5th edition of the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM). This latest edition of NMAM is the first electronic-only edition. The new electronic only format will still allow users to print copies of the methods as PDFs, but also allows for updates as new methods and guidance chapters are added. Learn more.

Just Released: National Total Worker Health Agenda

The NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health recently launched the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) to advance Total Worker Health® research, practice, policy, and capacity-building for the next 10 years. The agenda for 2016–2026 was developed after responding to stakeholder input, expanding the definition of Total Worker Health, and fine tuning what it means for a workplace to put priority upon a hazard-free work environment that protects the safety and health of all workers. The Agenda includes four strategic goals, grouped into the following domains: Research, Practice, Policy, and Capacity Building.

Learn About NIOSH Virtual Centers and Advisory Committees

NIOSH recently released two new topic pages. The first provides information on the NIOSH Virtual Centers and the second provides information on NIOSH Advisory Committees.

White House Blog Recognizes NIOSH Contributions to Safe Nanotechnology Development

NIOSH guidance and resources for supporting safe, sustainable nanotechnology were highlighted April 11 on the official White House blogExternal. In particular, the blog by two lead officials of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative recognized NIOSH’s recent guide for small to medium-sized businesses as “provid[ing] business owners with the tools necessary to develop and implement a written health and safety program to protect their employees.”

White House Designates Extreme Heat Week

The White House has designated May 23–27 as Extreme Heat Week, during which federal agencies will take a number of actions to work with community planners and public health officials to enhance community preparedness for extreme heat events. NIOSH is planning to participate via social media and other informational activities. To learn more about heat stress and our latest heat activities, visit NIOSH Heat Stress.

Cochrane Review Looks at Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Staff to Prevent Ebola

A recent Cochrane Work Externalreport reviewedExternal nine studies to examine the scientific quality of the available peer-reviewed evidence relevant to the question, “Which type or component of full-body PPE and which method of donning or removing [doffing] PPE have the least risk of self-contamination or infection for [healthcare workers], and which training methods most increase compliance with PPE protocols.” NIOSH researcher Selcen Kilinc-Balci contributed to the review.

Nanotechnology Research Center Meeting Highlights

The NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center held its biennial science meeting on April 13–15 in Morgantown, WV. This meeting brought together over 75 NIOSH scientists engaged in various aspects of nanomaterial research. The meeting had a special guest, Dr. Michael Meador, the Director of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. The meeting included talks on nanomaterials in advanced manufacturing, nanotoxicology, risk assessment, exposure assessments, epidemiology and surveillance, engineering controls, personal protective equipment, metrology, and measurement methods. This meeting, the sixth in its 10-year history, continues to provide an opportunity for cross collaborations among the many science disciplines involved with understanding and promoting the responsible development of nanomaterials.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH Science Awards Winners

The NIOSH Science Awards are presented annually to recognize significant accomplishments in research, partnership, research translation, career achievements, and service. The 2016 awards were presented on April 28. Information about the 2016 Science Award nominees and winners can be found here.

Public Health in Action Photo Contest WinnerAaron Sussell of NIOSH was a winner in the annual CDC Public Health in Action Photo Contest. His photo titled “Protecting Fire Fighters” was taken during a NIOSH site visit to observe fire fighters and a fire camp at the French Fire, Sierra National Forest, Madera Country, CA. In 2014, NIOSH began collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Interior on research to improve wildland fire fighter safety and health.

Federal Service Excellence Award Winners

NIOSH Cincinnati 2016 Federal Service Excellence Award Winners were recognized at the annual Federal Service Excellence Awards Ceremony on April 20 in Cincinnati with over 300 attending the celebration. The following NIOSH employees were recognized for their outstanding performance:

  • Manager/Supervisory Award: Geoffrey Calvert
  • Professional/Scientific Award: Duane Hammond
  • Community Service Recognition: Deborah Vashti-Lorraine Hirst

CDC Honors Awards Winners

Each year CDC & ATSDR hosts the Honor Awards that recognize the commitment and achievements of its employees. In March CDC recognized the 2015 winners. The following individuals from NIOSH were recognized:

  • Bryan Beamer, Lorenzo Cena, and George Sims received the Excellence in Emergency Response International Award for the Kroo Bay Response.
  • Ronald Shaffer, Aitor Coca, Jung-Hyun Kim, Raymond Roberge, Jeffrey Powell, Pengfei Gao, Selcen Kilinc-Balci, and Lee Portnoff received the Excellence in Public Health Protection award for their work on the Ebola Personal Protective Equipment Research Team.
  • CAPT Bruce Bernard received the Commissioned Corps Distinguished Service Medal for recognition of an exemplary career in occupational safety and health.
  • CAPT Barbara Grajewski received the Commissioned Corps Meritorious Service Medal for recognition of career notable for continuous leadership and groundbreaking research contribution in occupational safety and health.

CDC Innovation Award Winners

Eric Esswein and Arthur Miller of NIOSH recently received the CDC Innovation Fund Award. This is an internal award. The winning project was to conduct a long-term field evaluation of a NIOSH-invented, patent pending technology (NIOSH Mini Baghouse Retrofit Assembly) that controls silica dust emissions from sand movers used at hydraulic fracturing sites. In addition, Jerry Kratzer, Mike Gressel, Barb Alexander, Emanuele Cauda, Bradley King, Duane Hammond, Ronald Kovein were involved in either fabrication or field testing and evaluation work.

John C. Villforth Leadership Award

CDR Duane Hammond was selected to receive this year’s John C. Villforth Leadership AwardCdc-pdfExternal. Duane will receive the award at the upcoming U.S. Public Health Service Scientific and Training Symposium May 16–19 in Oklahoma City, OK. The award recognizes Duane’s leadership in bringing protective engineering controls to the asphalt milling industry.

Engineering Literary Awards

The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Engineering Professional Advisory Committee and the USPHS Chief Engineer annually recognize exemplary written works of USPHS engineers and architects through the Public Health Service Engineering Literary Awards. NIOSH engineering research activities earned awards in two categories.

NIOSH Researcher Honored for Work in Occupational Anthropometry

Hongwei Hsiao, Chief of the Protective Technology Branch in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research, is a finalist for the 2016 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) in Career AchievementExternal. Dr. Hsiao, a leader in the field of occupational anthropometry, is recognized for his groundbreaking work that has led to a better understanding of the varying body dimensions among different occupational groups. His pioneering work has led to significant improvements in protecting workers from on-the-job hazards by improving the design of equipment to better fit the user. The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals pay tribute to America’s dedicated federal workforce, highlighting those who have made significant contributions to our country. Medalists will be announced in September. Read more.

News from Our Partners

CA Digital Story: Avoid Paint Strippers With Methylene Chloride

The California Department of Public Health’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program has developed a digital storyExternal on using safer alternatives to paint strippers that contain methylene chloride. It also descibe the events that led to a near-death incident involving a painter who was overcome by methylene chloride vapor.

Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center New Workbook

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center’s NIOSH-funded Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance program produced a training workbook, Preventing Falls in ConstructionExternal. The workbook, created in anticipation of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction week, identifies the four leading causes of fatal falls in the construction industry and highlights safety best practices for prevention. Trainees are engaged through the use of case studies, quizzes, and scenarios in which they must identify regulatory violations. The workbook was disseminated to 2,388 companies and 112 high school and technical college construction programs.

Washington State Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatality Report

The Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control EvaluationExternalprogram recently published preliminary data on the number of work-related traumatic injury fatalities in 2015. For that year, Washington experienced the third lowest number of work-related fatalities in the last decade. The reportCdc-pdfExternal is intended to provide safety and health advocates and interested stakeholders timely data on workplace deaths in Washington.

International Society for Respiratory Protection Seeks Award Nominations

The Americas Section of the International Society for Respiratory Protection is pleased to call for papers for the Arthur Johnson Young Researcher Award in Respiratory Protection. This is a biennial award given to the best paper or poster presented at the Society’s international conference from a researcher who legally resides in North or South America and is under the age of 35. Submission deadline is June 1.External

USAID Launches Zika Grand Challenge

To stop the spread of Zika and prevent other infectious disease outbreaks, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently launched “Combating Zika and Future Threats: A Grand Challenge for DevelopmentExternal.”  USAID is calling for the global innovator community to generate cutting-edge technologies and approaches to fight Zika in the near term and to help strengthen the world’s response to infectious diseases in the future.

Training Program Looks to Reduce Illness and Injury for Veterinarian Practices

The University of Washington has a new training programExternal addressing the burden of illness and injury in veterinarian practices. The UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Science includes a NIOSH-funded training program in Occupational Health at the Human-Animal Interface, the first NIOSH-funded program of this kind. Through this program, the department is focusing on the occupational health of veterinary and other animal workers such as farm, zoo, and laboratory animal workers. A news articleExternal in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association provides more information on research in this area and also notes NIOSH involvement in this field.

Announcing the Working Time Society Facebook Page

The Working Time Society encourages Facebook users to like its Facebook page to receive updates. The Society is an international nonprofit organization that is part of the International Commission on Occupational Health. Its common interest with NIOSH is to research, promote, and develop interventions relating to work scheduling–related issues.

Newsletter Provides Tribute to Former NIOSH Director J. Donald Millar

The Spring NewsletterCdc-pdfExternal of the Society for Occupational Health Psychology features a tribute for former NIOSH Director J. Donald Millar (1981–1993) that acknowledges his role in beginning the work organization and health (aka Occupational Health Psychology) initiative at NIOSH. Dr. Millar passed away in 2015. Feature authors Drs. Sauter and Hurrell are former NIOSH scientists. Dr. Sauter presently works as a consultant to the NIOSH Total Worker Health® Program, and Dr. Hurrell serves on the advisory boards of the Rocky Mountains and Plains States Educational and Research Center and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.

OSHA Quarterly Compliance Report Now Available

OSHA’s quarterly update on new Compliance Assistance ResourcesExternal is now available. This report covers products issued from January 1 to March 31 and includes the following:

  • OSHA compliance assistance products
  • Materials developed by grantees under the Harwood Grant Program
  • Products developed by OSHA’s Alliance Program participants
  • NIOSH resources, including Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program reports and Workplace Solutions

r2p Corner

NIOSH Total Worker Health® Affiliate Program Renews Agreements

The NIOSH Total Worker Health® Affiliate (TWH Affiliate) Program aims to foster an integrated approach to protecting and promoting worker well-being through collaborations with academic, labor, governmental, and nonprofit organizations. NIOSH welcomes the addition of four new Affiliates: the American College of Preventive Medicine, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Northern Kentucky University, and the Valley Health Alliance in Aspen, CO. NIOSH has renewed the Affiliate relationship with the following organizations and looks forward to continued collaborations: Kentucky Department of Public Health, Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Georgia. Academic institutions, labor organizations, nonprofit associations, public sector entities, and similar organizations interested in becoming an Affiliate may contact TWH@cdc.gov.

FACE Reports

Hispanic Worker Dies after Being Hit With a Projectile from a Nearby Commercial Lawnmower – North Carolina

On April 17, 2013, a Hispanic lawn care worker was fatally injured when struck in the head by a metal projectile. The lawn care worker was trimming grass when a coworker ran over a pet tie-out stake with a lawn mower. The mower sheared off part of the stake, creating a projectile that struck the lawn care worker on the side of the head.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

Career Fire Fighter Dies in Heavy Smoke on Second Floor of a Residential Structure – Texas

On July 9, 2014, a career fire fighter died while conducting interior operations in a two-story structure fire. While searching the second floor, the fire fighter became separated from his crew and was not able to exit with the crew. Rescuers heard a personal alert safety system alarm and located the missing fire fighter.

Battalion Chief Dies from Aortic Dissection after Physical Fitness Training – Missouri

On January 1, 2015, a career battalion chief worked a 24-hour shift with no emergency calls. On January 2, while off duty, he worked out at a gym. Later that evening, he went to an emergency department where musculoskeletal chest wall pain was diagnosed. He worked two subsequent 24-hour shifts on January 3 and 5 and assisted with dog training on January 7. Later that night, his wife could not awaken him and called 911.

Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Die and 13 Fire Fighters Injured in a Wind-driven Fire in a Brownstone – Massachusetts

On March 26, 2014, a career fire lieutenant and a fire fighter died during fire-fighting operations in a multifamily residential brownstone. The lieutenant and fire fighter took a hoseline into the basement, and heavy winds caused the fire to rapidly intensify. The lieutenant and fire fighter were overcome by the rapidly deteriorating fire conditions.

Career Probationary Fire Fighter Runs Out of Air and Dies in Commercial Structure Fire – Michigan

On May 8, 2013, a career probationary fire fighter died after running out of air and being trapped by a roof collapse in a commercial strip mall fire. The fire fighter was one of three fire fighters who had stretched hoseline into the structure. The hose team exited the structure, and the fire fighter became separated from the crew members. A rapid intervention team was activated, but was unable to locate him before a flashover occurred, and the roof collapsed.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Odors in a Medical Center Research Facility

Health Hazard Evaluation Program investigators determined that supply air intakes on the roof pulled building exhaust back into the facility. Additionally, laboratories were not pressurized as designed. These ventilation issues contributed to the odors reported by employees. For more information click hereExternal.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act Special Exposure Cohort Petitions – Extension
The noticeExternal was posted on March 24. Written comments must be received on or before May 25.

“This Month in History”

Four decades ago, NIOSH presented new guidelines for preventing work-related exposure to substances that pose an occupational risk for cancer, based on the scientific evidence then available. In Guidelines for a NIOSH Policy on Occupational Carcinogenesis, NIOSH recommended a permit-registration system and no detectable exposure levels for proven carcinogenic substances in the workplace. The guidelines were a pioneering step in NIOSH’s ongoing efforts to incorporate evolving science into policies to address occupational cancer risk.

Page last reviewed: May 3, 2016