Volume 16, Number 12 (April 2019)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Prevention through Design (PtD) Update

In 1735, Benjamin Franklin wroteexternal icon that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We might think he was referring to health and medicine—not so. Mr. Franklin was recommending a metal enclosure to prevent bits of hot coals from starting a building fire. He also recommended training and equipping firefighters. One solution involved technology, and the other involved the organization of work; yet both were systems designed to prevent harm.

The concept of designing-out hazards is not new. It remains the most effective way to prevent harm. Unfortunately, history shows us that it is a concept used all too little.

In the early 1990s, health and safety practitioners, including professional engineer Fred Manuele, noticed that designing-out hazards was seldom mentioned in safety and health literature or management standards. Mr. Manuele studied over 1,600 accident reports and noticed that over a third of them mentioned design issues as a causal factor, yet the recommended corrective actions did not relate to the identified design issues. In 1994, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE, now American Society of Safety Professionals, ASSP) published a Designing for Safety position paper calling for an effective process to be developed. In 1995, the National Safety Council authorized a ten-year charter for an “Institute for Safety through Design,” developing the “Safety through Design” textbook.

In 2007, NIOSH launched a seven-year Prevention through Design (PtD) national initiative with a conference involving over 300 stakeholders from 10 industry sectors—developing the PtD Strategic Plan to guide work in PtD among all interested parties. NIOSH convened a Safe Green Jobs workshop in 2009, where then director of OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, asked the question, “How sustainable is dangerous technology?” Furthering this push to see PtD considered in emerging technologies, NIOSH convened the Safe Nano Design workshopexternal icon in 2012.

Another major step forward occurred in 2011 when the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ASSE published the ANSI/ASSE Z590.3 Prevention through Design standardexternal icon. This standard validates the importance of PtD and describes how to use a PtD process in any business.

Additional guidance and information endorsing the value of PtD has evolved through NIOSH publishing four PtD educational modules for engineering college curricula and collaborating with academic researchers to incorporate PtD principles into dozens of engineering textbooks. NIOSH also publishes concise, actionable guides for specific PtD solutions known as “Workplace Design Solutions.”

In 2014, NIOSH published a progress report and extended the PtD initiative for five years. In collaboration with NIOSH, the U.S. Green Building Council published a PtD pilot creditexternal icon in 2015 that can be used toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “green building” certifications. Also in 2015, collaboration began with the Purdue Process Safety and Assurance Centerexternal icon (P2SAC) to advance PtD principles in chemical manufacturing. NIOSH continues to work with stakeholders from industry, organized labor, academia, and other government agencies through technical exchanges and exploration of PtD applications in new and emerging workplace scenarios.

The continued and growing interest in PtD is both encouraging and full of opportunity, especially as the advantages of designing-out hazards become even more apparent with effective workplace design solutions.

There is still much to do to incorporate “PtD thinking” into research, practice, policy, and education. NIOSH has instituted PtD as one of its research programs to ensure continued focus on it. Later this year, we will introduce a “NIOSH Prevention through Design Award” to recognize successful promotion or utilization of PtD.

I extend my thanks to the many dedicated professionals who share responsibility for the advances made to date. We look forward to many continued collaborations and advances together.


Join the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, May 6–10

NIOSH and partners invite you to join the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction and take part in the sixth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction from May 6–10. Set aside time during that week to openly discuss with your employees how to prevent falls. Campaign materials are available (in Spanish and English) to raise awareness about construction falls and to provide practical information about fall prevention on our main campaign websiteexternal icon. You can also orderexternal icon your free 2019 Stand-Down hard hat stickers and fall-related Hazard Alert Cards to pass out during your event.

New Video Available on the Dangers of Illicit Drugs for First Responders

NIOSH just released a new video to help emergency responders understand the risks and to communicate what they can do to protect themselves from exposure to illicit drugs. Using actual police body cam footage, the video shows what happens when an officer is exposed to illicit drugs like fentanyl and provides recommendations on how other officers and responders can prevent it from happening to them.

New Research from External Partners Available on NIOSH Opioids Webpage

NIOSH has a new webpage featuring opioid-related resources from its extramural grantees and other partners. On this webpage, you can find information on education, training, research, and surveillance data related to the prevention of opioid misuse and overdose in working populations.

Register Now! Free Robotics and Workplace Safety and Health Webinar

expanding research partnerships 2019 webinar series

Join us on April 10 for a webinar on Robotics and Workplace Safety and Health. Preregistration is required to attend. This is the first installment in the NIOSH 2019 Expanding Research Partnership webinar series, designed to promote the work of innovative and impactful intramural and extramural research partnerships.

Health Insurance Coverage among US Workers; Differences by Work Arrangements

NIOSH recently published a studyexternal icon that compared the rates of health insurance coverage among workers in different work arrangements between 2010 and 2015. While rates of health insurance coverage among workers in all categories went up significantly during this time period, substantial disparities in health insurance coverage persisted for workers with non-standard work arrangements. Learn more.

2019 OSHA Stand down

Read more in Highlights below

NIOSH eNews is Brought to You By:
  • John Howard, M.D., Director
  • Christina Spring, Editor in Chief
  • Tanya Headley, Story Editor
  • Kiana Harper, Monthly Features Editor
  • Cheryl Hamilton, Copy Editor
  • Glenn Doyle, Technical Lead
  • Tonya White, Web Developer
email_03Sign up for NIOSH eNews

To receive the NIOSH eNews email newsletter, enter your email address:

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

The Center for Construction Research and Training Honored

CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training Honored With Henry C. Turner Prize
On March 12, a NIOSH-funded grantee, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, received the 2019 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Constructionexternal icon. The Center was recognized for its efforts to promote and improve safety conditions for workers in the construction industry. Specifically, CPWR’s Director of Evaluation and Research, Dr. Linda Goldenhar, was honored for her projects on jobsite safety climate, safety leadership, and safety management systems. The award recognizes an invention, an innovative methodology, and exceptional leadership by an individual or team of individuals in construction technology. Photo at right: Dr. Chris Cain and Dr. Linda Goldenhar of CPWR (center) receiving their award from Mr. Peter Davoren, President and Chief Executive Officer of Turner Construction Company (left), and Mr. Chase Rynd, National Building Museum Executive Director (right). (Photo courtesy of Turner Construction Company)

Pramod award

NIOSH Scientist Wins Chemist of the Year Award
Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Kulkarni who has been selected Chemist of the Year by the Cincinnati Local Section of the American Chemical Society. This award recognizes Dr. Kulkarni’s work at NIOSH to develop portable aerosol instrumentation and other efforts to improve health and safety in the workplace. Learn more. Photo at left: Donna Wiedemann of Procter and Gamble, Cincinnati presents the award to Pramod.


New Report Celebrates NORA Council Achievements
In first two years of this decade (October 2016–September 2018), NORA councils have accomplished a great deal. Eleven councils published research agendas, and all made strides in information sharing, partnership building, and promoting evidence-based solutions. Learn more in the report, National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Councils: 2016–2018 Achievementspdf icon.

Final NORA Agenda Available
The final National Occupational Research Agenda for Immune, Infectious, and Dermal Disease Prevention is now available. The agenda has six objectives that call for research on the effects of recurring low-level occupational exposures; the contributions of skin exposure to the overall body burden of toxic substances; and the autoimmune disease risk associated with occupational and environmental exposures. Additionally, the agenda identifies research needed to improve current skin exposure measurement methods, reduce the incidence and transmission of infectious disease in the workplace, and reduce the incidence of allergic disease in the workplace.

NORA Agendas Available for Comment

Recommended Practices for Host Employers to Protect Temporary Workers
The NORA Services Sector Council Contingent Workers workgroup has developed a draft of recommended practices for host employers to follow to protect the safety and health of temporary workers hired through staffing companies. The workgroup is seeking feedback on this document from host employers and other stakeholders on the practicality and comprehensiveness of the recommended practices as well as suggestions for how to best distribute this information to host employers. If you would like to learn more or provide feedback on this document, please contact Lauren Menger-Ogle, Interim Chair of the NORA Services Sector Council, at

NORA Councils Participate in World Hearing Day 2019 Event
Members of the NORA Hearing Loss Cross-Sector and the Manufacturing Sector Councils participated in Wiki4WorldHearingDay2019external icon by either promoting the event or contributing content to Wikipedia. NIOSH led the event as part of World Hearing Day 2019 activities to help increase contributions of hearing-related content into Wikipedia in several languages. Between January 21 and March 31, 74,000 words were contributed to 90 existing and 7 new Wikipedia articles, and 21 images were donated to the open access repository WikiCommonsexternal icon. These new and updated articles received more than a million views; the Tinnitus article attracted the most attention (280,000 views). One of the new Wikipedia articles developed during the campaign, on hearing protection fit-testingexternal icon, was featured in the “Did You Know?” section of the Wikipedia main page on March 24 and 25.

News from Our Partners

New Report on Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes in New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Occupational Health Surveillance Program recently released a new report, Characteristics of Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes Reported in the New Hampshire State Police Commercial Crash Dataset for Years 2015 through 2017pdf iconexternal icon. Their findings show that the overall main contributing factor of work-related crashes was driver inattention/distraction; however, the main contributing factor for poor road and weather conditions (ice/slush/snow and snow/sleet/hail) was unsafe speed.

Registration is Now Open for the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
Registration is open for the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Workexternal icon which will be held October 4-7, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. The motto for the 2020 Congress is Prevention in the connected age: global solutions to achieve safe and healthy work. The program will explore innovations in addressing longstanding safety and health challenges and will consider the implications of the changing world of work for workers, employers, regulators, researchers, and OHS professionals. And the Congress will emphasize the potential of strong cultures of prevention to advance the global movement to eliminate the causes of work-related injury and illness.

Webinar on Vehicle Seat Design, Whole Body Vibration, and Low Back Pain, April 17
The NIOSH-funded Education and Research Centers (ERCs)  will kick off the third installment of a new 2019 Ergonomics Webinar Seriesexternal icon on April 17. The series offers free monthly webinars on occupational safety and health topics related to human factors and ergonomics. This month, Dr. Pete Johnson of University of Washington will present on Vehicle Seat Design, Whole Body Vibration, and Low Back Painexternal icon. This event is 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. (Pacific Time).

Join on Facebook Live April 24: Worker Memorial Day Event Held by Washington State ERC
This upcoming Worker Memorial Day, the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safetyexternal icon will host an event, focused on making jobs safer and saving lives in Washington State. It will be held on Facebook Live and it will feature a special presentation on “Reversing the Adverse Impact of Opioids on Injured Workers.” The event will include a special ceremony honoring those who died in 2018 from a work-related injury or illness in King County, Washington. Find more details on this Worker Memorial Day eventexternal icon on the center’s website. The Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety is a NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC).

New FACE Reports

Concrete Finisher Electrocuted When Bull Float Contacted an Energized Power Line—Michigan

A concrete finisher was electrocuted when the handle of the 29-foot-long metal bull float he was using contacted an energized 7,200 volt power line. The decedent and his coworkers were performing concrete finishing work for a residential driveway. When the bull float handle contacted the overhead line, the concrete finisher fell forward, letting go of the pole. The concrete finisher died at the hospital. Read the report here.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Update

44-Year-Old Fire Fighter Suffers Sudden Cardiac Arrest at Station—Georgia

A career fire fighter completed a physical ability test at the beginning of her 24-hour shift and then reported to the station and was assigned as the driver of a unit. The fire fighter and her crew responded to two emergency calls later that morning. After returning to the station, the fire fighter went into cardiac arrest. The fire fighter was pronounced dead at the hospital. Read the report here.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Illicit Drug Exposures to Law Enforcement and EMS Personnel

HHE Program investigators found that law enforcement officers and EMS personnel experienced adverse health effects during a response to a drug overdose. Among our recommendations was to work with 911 dispatch coordinators to identify possible improvements in information gathering and communication before arriving at scenes where there might be illicit drugs. Read the HHE reportexternal icon to learn more.

New NIOSH Communication Products

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Comment

Draft-National Occupational Research Agenda for Hearing Loss Prevention
The noticeexternal icon was posted on February 5. Comments must be received by April 8.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations
The noticeexternal icon was posted on February 7. Comments must be received by April 8.

Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 1. Nominations must be received by April 30.

Draft-National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthy Work Design and Well-being
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 12. Comments must be received by May 13.

Request for the Technical Review of 10 Draft Skin Notation Assignments and Skin Notation Profiles
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 15. Comments must be received by May 14.

Mining Automation and Safety Research Prioritization
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 18. Comments must be received by May 17.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations
The noticeexternal icon was posted on March 20. Comments must be received by May 20.

National Firefighter Registry; Request for Information
The notice was posted March 28. Comments must be received by May 28.

The noticeexternal icon was posted on February 14. A public meeting in open house format will be held on March 6 in Slatyfork, West Virginia. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and end no later than 8:30 p.m.

Call for Manuscript Submissions

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Special Edition
Deadline for manuscript submissionexternal icon is January 31, 2020.

Upcoming Seminars/Conferences

29th Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conferenceexternal icon
April 1–5, Hilton Head, SC

2019 Wisconsin Health Literacy Summitexternal icon
April 2–3, Madison, WI

Advancing the Science and Practice of Science Communication: Misinformation About Science in the Public Sphereexternal icon
April 3–4, Irvine, CA

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses National Conferenceexternal icon
April 8–10, Jacksonville, FL

American Occupational Health Conferenceexternal iconLook for Us! Booth #308
April 28–May 1, Anaheim, CA

National Safety Council Northeast Conference & Expoexternal iconLook for Us! Booth #205
May 1–3, Pittsburgh, PA

2019 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expoexternal icon
May 20–22, Minneapolis, MN

Ohio Tactical Officers Association Conferenceexternal icon
June 3–7, Sandusky, OH

Safety 2019 Professional Development Conference and Expositionexternal icon
June 9–12, New Orleans, LA

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Conferenceexternal iconLook for Us! Booth #1638
June 12–14, Philadelphia, PA

Fraternal Order of Police 64th Biennial Conference & Expoexternal iconLook for Us! Booth #800
August 12–15, New Orleans, LA

2019 National Conference on Health, Communication, Marketing & Media
August 13–15, Atlanta, GA

International Association of Firefighters Redmond Health and Safety Symposiumexternal icon
August 19–22, Nashville, TN

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare National Conferenceexternal icon
September 4–7, Baltimore, MD

National Safety Council 2019 Congress and Expoexternal icon
September 6–12, San Diego, CA

Twenty-Fourth International Symposium on Shiftwork & Working Timeexternal icon
September 9–13, Coeur d’Alene, ID

Working Hours, Sleep & Fatigue Forum: Meeting the Needs of American Workers & Employers
September 13–14, Coeur d’Alene, I

National Association of Occupational Health Professionals 33rd Annual National Conferenceexternal icon
September 15–17, Phoenix, AZ

Work, Stress and Health Conference 2019external icon
November 6–9, Philadelphia, PA

7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Healthexternal icon
May 28–29, 2020, Durban, South Africa

XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Workexternal icon
October 4-7, 2020, Toronto Canada

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2019