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Volume 15, Number 3 (July 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Celebrating 50 Years of Respiratory Research at NIOSH

This month I’m pleased to share with you that 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of occupational respiratory disease research at the NIOSH facility in Morgantown. In 1967 the Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Disease (ALFORD) was established within the U.S. Public Health Service, and in 1971 it became part of NIOSH. In 1977 ALFORD was renamed the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), which is now the Respiratory Health Division (RHD).

Respiratory health research conducted at the Morgantown facility was transformed by the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (Coal Act) and its entry into NIOSH after the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). The Coal Act assigned official responsibilities for research and service to prevent coal mine dust–induced lung disease, and these are still relevant and important today. The OSH Act and affiliation with NIOSH expanded ALFORD’s mission to advance prevention of work-related respiratory disease across the spectrum of occupations and industries. This also continues be a very important focus for NIOSH, since work-related respiratory disease continues to be one of the most important work-related health issues.

Over the years, NIOSH has made great impacts in addressing occupational respiratory disease issues by working in partnership with industry; labor; academia; federal, state, and local government agencies; and others. NIOSH’s efforts include these examples:

In reflecting on past accomplishments and planning for the future, NIOSH is co-sponsoring an occupational respiratory symposium on August 10, 2017, with West Virginia University (WVU), a long-time partner celebrating its own 25th anniversary of the WVU Occupational Medicine Training Program. The symposium will be held in WVU’s Health Sciences Center and will bring together a multidisciplinary group of occupational health scientists to discuss local and national issues related to prevention of occupational respiratory disease. Further information on the symposium is posted on NIOSH’s new Respiratory Health at Work website, which also provides up-to-date information and links to various programs within RHD and from across NIOSH. You can also follow RHD on Twitter at @NIOSHbreathe. I invite you to participate in the event!

CDC Releases 2018 Yellow Book
CDC Health Information for International Travel (commonly called the Yellow Book) is now available. For the first time, the Yellow Book includes a section on work-related travel. This is an important document for healthcare providers who work at travel clinics where people may be getting vaccinations, as well as for occupational health doctors.

Survey Finds Private Dental Practices Lacking OSHA Exposure-Control Plans for Bloodborne Pathogens
Findings from a web-based survey conducted by NIOSH and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention showed that over a quarter of private dental practices that participated in the survey did not have a written site-specific plan for controlling exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This study is one of the first to examine extent of awareness of and compliance with OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard in private dental practices, particularly with respect to having an exposure control plan. This information supports the need for increased continuing education and training on methods to prevent occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens in dental settings. Learn more.

NIOSH Study Looks at Use of Nasal Scavenging Masks on Dental Patients to Control Nitrous Oxide
According to a new article from NIOSH, scavenging systems that prevent nitrous oxide gas from escaping into the dental operatory are widely used. However, adherence to other recommended precautions during dental procedures is lacking. The findings from this survey will help NIOSH, its partners, employers, and healthcare workers better understand current health and safety practices for working with hazardous chemical agents and identify gaps in knowledge about those practices. NIOSH, in collaboration with partners, plans to design further research for addressing those gaps. Learn more.

Save the Date for the Upcoming 2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health®
The 2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health® returns to the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, from May 8 to 11, 2018. This is the only NIOSH-sponsored conference dedicated solely to advancing Total Worker Health research and practice. Esteemed presenters from nonprofit, government, private, and academic institutions will share their perspectives and research findings on Total Worker Health, as well as practical applications. More information and abstract submission details are forthcoming.

OSH leadership

Left to right, RADM Kitt, Dr. Chung, Dr. Howard, and Mr. Huang.

NIOSH and Taiwan OSH Leadership Hold Meeting
NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard and NIOSH Deputy Director RADM Margaret Kitt recently met with Taiwan labor officials in Washington, DC. At the June 5 meeting with Dr. Lin-Hui Chung, Deputy Chairperson of Taiwan’s Institute of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health, Ministry of Labor (ILOSH), and Jason Huang, labor attaché of the Taiwan Embassy to the United States, the group discussed research topics and explored potential collaboration between NIOSH and ILOSH. 

New FACE Program Information Available
A new flyer from NIOSH provides information on the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program and state FACE programs. This flyer contains information about the programs as well as materials available to keep workers safe on the job.

Division of Safety Research Celebrates 40th Anniversary
The NIOSH Division of Safety Research (DSR) celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. DSR serves as the focal point for the nation’s research program for preventing traumatic occupational injuries, such as from motor vehicle crashes, falls, workplace violence, machinery-related events, confined-space incidents, and electrocutions. DSR staff and alumni joined to celebrate the event and their many meaningful contributions to worker safety and research over the years.

Updates on Talking Safety
Having limited fluency in the language makes young, non-English-speaking workers a particularly vulnerable group. To serve Spanish-speaking youth, an edition of Youth@Work—Talking Safety, the NIOSH young worker curriculum, has been translated into Spanish. The Spanish translation of the Florida edition is now available. Spanish translations of the California, Oklahoma, and Texas editions will be coming soon.

Grand Rounds Presentation on Hearing Health
On June 20, William Murphy of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Team spoke at CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds entitled “It’s Loud Out There: Hearing Health Across the Lifespan.” His presentation, “Hearing Health Among Adults,” aired live and was recorded. The presentation and corresponding interview in “Beyond the Data” are available at on the Public Health Grand Rounds website.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

AIH Conference & Exposition (AIHCe) in Seattle

Outgoing AIHA President Steven Lacey and Rebecca Guerin at the AIH Conference & Exposition (AIHCe) in Seattle. Photo credit: Ashlee Wilcox Photography.

AIHA President’s Award

This year’s American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) President’s Award was presented on June 7 in Seattle, Washington, to Rebecca Guerin, a social scientist with NIOSH and coordinator of the NIOSH Safe-Skilled-Ready Workforce program. In this capacity, Rebecca and her team collaborated with outgoing AIHA president Dr. Steven Lacey on the development and dissemination of Safety Matters, a free, one-hour training module. The interactive module has information on occupational safety and health that is critical for young people to know before entering the workforce.

AIHA John M. White Award

NIOSH researchers were recently awarded the American Industrial Hygiene Association Respiratory Protection Committee’s John M. White Award. The award is for excellence in scientific and application-oriented research in respiratory protection, as demonstrated in Temporal Changes in Filtering-Facepiece Respirator Fit. The article, by Ziqing Zhuang, Michael Bergman, Elizabeth Brochu, Andrew Palmiero, George Niezgoda, Xinjian He, Raymond Roberge, and Ronald Shaffer, appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

AIHA Outstanding Project Team Award for Nanomaterial Product Stewardship Guidance Document

Engineered nanomaterials are being used in ever-increasing volumes to improve the performance of a rapidly-growing number of consumer products. The traditional role of the Industrial Hygienist in assessing and managing workplace risks of nanotechnology requires skills that can also be applied in managing the potential risks of nanoproducts throughout their life cycle. The AIHA Nanotechnology Working Group recently collaborated with members of the Product Stewardship Society to develop a guidance document for nanomaterials. This guidance document defines the key activities of Product Stewardship and describes how occupational health and safety skills can complement and support effective stewardship for nanomaterials and nanoproducts throughout their life cycle. Dr. Chuck Geraci of NIOSH was a member of the six-person team who developed the document and received the AIHA Outstanding Project Team Award.


Third Decade of NORA Launched at Conference

Expanding Research Partnerships: State of the Science was convened June 21–23 in Aurora, Colorado. The conference brought together NIOSH scientists and NIOSH-funded extramural researchers. One of the two conference goals was to launch the third decade of NORA, accomplished through a plenary presentation and topic table discussion. Scientific presentations were organized by sector and cross-sector.

News from Our Partners

New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration

The New Hampshire (NH) Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration’s Equity Task Force was convened in 2015 to examine employment data as a way to delve into the prevalence of cancer screening rates and explore opportunities to reach vulnerable populations. In order to do this, the task force used the “industry” field in the NH Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to analyze preventive cancer screening rates for the primary NH industries. Focusing on breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings, the task force considered industries with both male and female workers across the span of adulthood, with the highest likelihood of social diversity. Results indicate that the lowest prevalence of preventive cancer screening, compared with the general population, are in the Accommodation and Food Services industry. This report highlights efforts focused on outreach and dissemination to that industry.

Minnesota Workplace Safety

A collaboration among the Minnesota Safety Council, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Center for Occupational Health and Safety yielded a one-sheet “dashboard” for Minnesota Workplace Safety. The dashboard makes use of data from several of the Occupational Health Indicators. Graphics and headlines created for each of the topic areas allow for easier comprehension and use.

r2p Corner

NIOSH and NOCTI Form Partnership

NIOSH and NOCTI (formerly the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) recently established a partnership agreement. NOCTI is a non-profit organization that develops and administers career-based competency assessments and recognizes the benefits of a collaborative partnership to promote and advance occupational safety and health practices among young workers. Through this agreement, NOCTI will administer the online assessment of the NIOSH Youth@Work: Talking Safety curriculum to participating middle and high school students. It will provide a digital badge as a certificate of completion for those students earning a passing grade on the assessment. This partnership is vital to nationwide dissemination of the NIOSH young worker curriculum and to preparing young people for a lifetime of safe and healthy work. For more information, contact Rebecca Guerin, Coordinator, NIOSH Safe-Skilled-Ready Workforce Program, at (513) 533-8435 or

FACE Reports

Two Tree Trimmers Die When They Are Electrocuted While Pollinating Date Palm Trees – California

Two tree trimmers were fatally electrocuted by an overhead high-voltage power line while pollinating date palm trees. Both of the trimmers were in the bucket of an aerial lift truck when the incident occurred. The vehicle was parked under high-voltage power lines and the bucket was raised directly into the lines.

A Foreman Dies When He is crushed in a Hay Baling Machine – California

A foreman was fatally crushed in a hay baling machine while he was clearing debris out of the machine. The foreman went through a gate with sensors that were designed to shut the machine off when he entered the area that moves the compacted bales. While the foreman was clearing the debris, he was crushed between moving parts of the machine.

A Hydroblasting Laborer Dies When He Falls Into an Underground Vertical Pipe and Suffocates – California

A laborer at a geothermal facility died when he fell into an open 24-foot-deep vertical pipe. A pump had recently been removed, exposing the top end of the pipe, which was at ground level. When the victim stepped on the jacketing, he fell through the hole into liquid isopentane at the bottom of the pipe and suffocated.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Captain Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death After Performing Physical Fitness Training – Mississippi

A captain performed fitness training by walking on a treadmill at his fire station. After exercising for about 20 minutes, he ate dinner and went to take a shower. About 75 minutes later, a crew member found the captain unresponsive in the shower room. The captain was pronounced dead at the station.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Diesel Exhaust Exposure at Two Fire Stations

Finding low levels of diesel exhaust in all areas of the two fire stations, HHE Program investigators confirmed that air flowed from the apparatus bay into the living quarters, the opposite of what is preferred. The investigators recommended improving the ventilation systems at both stations and installing diesel control systems to decrease the amount of exhaust in the apparatus bay. For more information, click here.

Ventilation Recommendations Provided to an Indoor Waterpark Resort

HHE program investigators found that work-related eye and respiratory symptoms were about 5 times more common among employees who worked in the waterpark than in other parts of the resort. The ventilation systems were not operating properly and did not meet current standards and guidelines. The investigators recommended the waterpark improve the ventilation systems to ensure enough air movement and proper dilution and removal of air contaminants. For more information, click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Health Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance – Requests and Emerging Problems (Revision)

The notice was posted on May 31. Written comments must be received on or before July 31.

World Trade Center Health Program: Request for Nominations of Scientific Peer Reviewers of Proposed Additions to the List of WTC-related Health Conditions

The notice was posted on March 22. Nominations must be submitted (postmarked or electronically received) by February 1, 2019.

Call for Abstracts

Occupational Safety and Health: Recognizing Accomplishments and Planning for the Future
The deadline for poster abstracts is July 7.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

Occupational Safety and Health: Recognizing Accomplishments and Planning for the Future
August 10, Morgantown, WV  

National Safety Council Expo
September 25–27, Indianapolis, IN

Understanding Small Enterprises (USE) Conference
October 25–27, Denver, CO

10th International Joint Conference on Occupational Health for Healthcare Workers: Health & Wellbeing in the Health Care Sector—Addressing Current Threats to Workers
November 28–30, Khon Kaen, Thailand

2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health®                                       

May 8–11, 2018, Bethesda, MD

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

This Month in History

In July 1990, NIOSH testified before the U.S. Department of Labor in support of updated rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration protecting logging workers. In the testimony, NIOSH cited work-related hazards associated with chain saws and emphasized the importance of training for workers. NIOSH also recommended equipping logging vehicles with rollover protective structures, seat belts, and falling-object protective structures. More information is available: NIOSH Testimony on Logging Operations by J. D. Millar, July 24, 1990.