NIOSH eNews

Volume 15, Number 4 (August 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

The Dogs Days of Summer are Here

The dog days of summer are upon us, but what does that actually mean? This phrase refers to the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the summer, usually ranging from July through August. In ancient times, the return of Sirius (the Dog Star), which is the brightest star in the night sky, would be a forerunner of the hottest phase of the summer. For many, the month of August may mean the end of summer vacation is approaching, but for outdoor workers, these dog days mean dangerously hot temperatures. Extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard; each year more than 65,000 people seek medical treatment for extreme heat exposure. According to OSHA, in 2014 there were 2,630 workers who suffered from heat-related illness, and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Heat-related illnesses are not the only concern; work-related exposure to heat can also result in reduced productivity and growing risk of injuries, such as those caused by sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and cognitive impairment.

Last year, NIOSH published Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments. This technical document provides safety professionals and employers an evaluation of the scientific data on heat stress and NIOSH recommendations. This summer, NIOSH and OSHA released a redesigned OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app. The app uses the device’s geolocation capabilities to pull temperature and humidity data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites to determine the heat index. The app shows the current risk level (minimal, low, moderate, high, or extreme) and forecasts the hourly heat index throughout the entire workday, giving employers information they can use to adjust the work environment as needed to protect workers.

The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is taken into account along with the actual air temperature. Both the heat index and wet bulb globe temperature are used to measure environmental temperature. NIOSH recommends the use of wet bulb globe temperature to determine the recommended exposure limits (RELs) and the recommended alert limits (RALs) in hot environments. However, many workers and small businesses will not have access to the resources necessary to determine wet bulb globe temperature.  In these situations, using the heat index is a viable alternative. While the literature provides plenty of evidence regarding the accuracy of wet bulb globe temperature and common usage in industrial settings, the simplicity of the heat index makes it a good option for many outdoor work environments when no additional radiant heat sources are available.

The Heat Safety Tool app, in addition to calculating the heat index, provides recommendations to prevent heat-related illnesses and reduce heat stress in outdoor workers. Each calculated heat index is associated with a risk level, and the “Precautions” option gives recommendations specific to each risk level. Supervisors interested in planning work activities for the entire shift around the heat index can use the hourly feature to determine the hottest hours of the day. The app also contains information on risk factors, heat-related illness symptoms, first aid, preparing for emergencies, training, acclimatization, hydration, monitoring workers for heat-related illness, and scheduling breaks.

Hot jobs should never become deadly jobs, as there are many tools for monitoring and options for managing the heat. Take precautions to keep your workers cool and safe for the entire summer, dog days included.

To install the FREE app on your device in English or Spanish, visit iTunesExternal (iOS) or Google PlayExternal (Android).

For more information about heat stress, visit NIOSH Heat Stress.

AIHA Highlights NIOSH Young Worker Safety Training
A recent articleExternal by the president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) highlights a 1-hour, interactive training module called Safety Matters, which was developed by NIOSH for AIHA. The goal of the training is to raise awareness among young people about workplace safety and health and to provide an understanding of the skills they need to become active participants in creating safe and healthy work environments. The materials presented in this module are based on a full curriculum from NIOSH called Talking Safety.

New Web Page Provides Resources for Fire Service
NIOSH recently launched a new web page with resources for fire service personnel. The web page includes information about the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, which conducts independent investigations of select fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to provide recommendations to prevent similar deaths and injuries. As part of the investigations, NIOSH staff also assist in the evaluation of self-contained breathing apparatus.

New Jersey Adopts Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act
On May 11, the New Jersey Legislature adopted Bill No. 837, Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act, which requires promulgation of standards and regulations concerning safe handling of hazardous drugs by certain healthcare personnel. The NJ Legislature determined that it is the public policy of the state to provide for the appropriate regulation of the handling of hazardous drugs consistent with the 2004 NIOSH alert as well as any updates to the NIOSH list of hazardous drugs. New Jersey is the fourth state to pass similar legislation following Washington, California, and North Carolina. Several other states have proposed similar legislation. More information on preventing exposure to hazardous drugs is available here.

Call for Abstracts Now Open for 2018 Total Worker Health Symposium
The call for abstractsExternal for the NIOSH-sponsored 2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health® is now OPEN. The upcoming symposium, focused on the theme Work & Well-Being: How Safer, Healthier Work Can Enhance Well-Being, will congregate scientists and practitioners engaged in innovative research and programs aligned with Total Worker Health approaches. The symposium will be held May 8–11, 2018, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, just minutes from Washington, DC. NIOSH is seeking abstract submissions for poster presentations, plenary sessions, concurrent sessions (symposia and brief scientific paper or practice/intervention sessions), and pre-conference workshops. The deadline for abstract submission is October 31.

Study Looks at Effects of Organizational Safety Practices and Perceived Safety Climate on the Safe Administration of Liquid Antineoplastic Drugs
A web-based survey conducted by NIOSH looked at how organizational factors and perceived safety climate might affect use of personal protective equipment and engineering controls as well as the likelihood of spills, leaks, or skin contact during administration of liquid antineoplastic drugs. Antineoplastic drugs, also known as chemotherapy, cytotoxic, and oncology drugs, are used to treat cancer, as well as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other non-cancer medical conditions. This study was published in the July issueExternal of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and is currently available as an e-pub. Read more.

NIOSH and Workforce Tulsa Partner to Promote Workplace Safety and Health Among Young, Temporary Workers
NIOSH and Workforce Tulsa recently announced a collaboration to develop and pilot test a new training program, Developing Work Safety Skills, to promote workplace safety and health practices among young adults seeking career services and temporary employment opportunities through Workforce Tulsa. The training will include a variety of activities that highlight hazard recognition and prevention strategies relevant to workplaces where young people are often employed, such as retail or food service. Additionally, program participants will receive a certificate of completion when they finish the Developing Work Safety Skills training program. Learn more.

NIOSH Visits US Air Force Base
NIOSH engineers recently visited the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio to discuss current Air Force research and to present engineering control solutions for respirable crystalline silica dust and other ongoing NIOSH engineering control research. NIOSH thanks the Air Force for the visit and looks forward to future research collaborations. Learn more about the NIOSH engineering controls research program here.

NIOSH MSD Program Updates Key Ergonomics Guide
The NIOSH Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Program recently updated the NIOSH document Elements of Ergonomics Programs – a step-by-step guide to create, implement, and maintain an ergonomics program. The guide provides basic information useful for employers, workers and others in designing an effective ergonomics program to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders.


Monthly Features

News from Our Partners

OSHA Quarterly Update on Compliance Assistance Resources
The new OSHA quarterly update on compliance assistance resourcesExternal is now available. The report covers products issued in the third quarter of FY 2017 (April 1 to June 30, 2017) and includes the following:

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

r2p Corner

New Agreement Between NIOSH and KASK
Recently, NIOSH and KASK signed an agreement to conduct research into the ability of protective helmets used by construction workers to reduce the severity of work-related traumatic brain injury. According to its website, KASK is a company that specializes in developing, designing, and manufacturing safety helmets. NIOSH and KASK entered into this agreement to conduct research on protective helmets. For more information, please contact Christopher Pan. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH.


FACE Reports

Worker Killed When a Section of Pipeline Crashed Through Excavator and Struck Him in the Chest During a Tandem Lift—West Virginia
An excavator operator died after being struck in the chest during a tandem lift. While executing a tandem lift, the rear operator maneuvered the excavator around the end of a pipe while raising it to cab level. When the cab and the pipe were aligned, the boom moved inadvertently, causing the pipe to plunge through the cab window.

A Laborer is Crushed Between a Trash Compactor and Receiving Container—CaliforniaCdc-pdf
A laborer died after being caught between a stationary trash compactor and a roll-off receiving container. The container was released, slid off the ramp, and struck the laborer. The laborer was between the containers checking the alignment.

A Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Contractor Dies When He Falls through a Skylight—CaliforniaCdc-pdf
A contractor fell through a skylight while inspecting air conditioning units. The skylight had no protective guarding at the time of the incident. The victim died from his injuries 19 days later.


Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Career Fire Fighter Dies After Falling Down Unsecured Elevator Shaft While Searching for the Origin of a Smoldering Fire—Illinois
A career fire fighter fell down an unsecured elevator shaft while searching for the origin of a smoldering fire in a warehouse that was undergoing renovations. Crews were searching the second floor in near-zero visibility when the fire fighter fell down an elevator shaft. The fire fighter was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.


Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Noise Exposure in Public Works Departments of a Small City
HHE Program investigators measured noise exposures above occupational noise exposure limits in the electric distribution, operations, and parks and recreation departments. Although the city provided hearing protection to employees for voluntary use, some employees did not wear it when using noisy equipment or machinery. We recommend starting a hearing conservation program that includes audiometric testing and providing hearing protection and training. For more information click hereExternal.

Evaluation of Cadmium Exposures at an Aircraft Equipment Depot
HHE Program investigators found employees removing corroded cadmium-plated parts had exposures to airborne cadmium that exceeded occupational exposure limits, despite the less than 2-hour task duration. We also found cadmium on work surfaces outside the production area. We recommended using a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air filter and wet wiping to clean work surfaces and tools. For more information click hereExternal.


New NIOSH Communication Products


What’s New on the NIOSH Science Blog? Join the Discussion Today!


Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, Public Scoping Meeting, and Request for Comments; Acquisition of Site for Development as a New Consolidated Campus for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/NIOSH
The noticeExternal was posted on July 14. Public scoping meeting will be held on August 1. Written scoping comments must be submitted by August 14.

Survey of Engineered Nanomaterial Occupational Safety and Health Practices
The noticeExternal was posted on July 17.  Written comments should be received within 30 days.

A Performance Test Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs; Extension of Comment Period
The noticeExternal was posted on July 26.  Comment period extended to February 28, 2018.

World Trade Center Health Program; Request for Nominations of Scientific Peer Reviewers of Proposed Additions to the List of WTC-related Health Conditions
The noticeExternal was posted on March 22. Nominations must be submitted postmarked or electronically received by February 1, 2019.


Call for Abstracts

2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health®External
The deadline for abstract submissions is October 31.


Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

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

Understanding Small Enterprises (USE) ConferenceExternal
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 WorkersExternal
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 www.cdc.gov/niosh/exhibits.html.


This Month in History

In 1992, NIOSH released recommendations to protect tree trimmers from work-related injury and death.  After investigating five fatal electrocutions and three fatal falls among tree trimmers from 1986 to 1991, NIOSH concluded that training and knowledge on risks and safety were lacking among many of the industry’s workers and employers. Among the recommendations were comprehensive safety programs to protect tree trimmers at work. More information is available: Preventing Falls and Electrocutions During Tree Trimming.

Page last reviewed: August 1, 2017