Volume 16, Number 4 (August 2018)
John Howard, M.D.
NIOSH Confronts the Opioid Crisis and How It Affects Workers
One of the most pressing public health challenges our nation faces today is the epidemic of opioid overdoses. According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record.
The effects of opioid use and misuse are not isolated to just one part of society. According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, 95% of the total U.S. drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2016 were among the working age population, persons aged 15–64 years. While we do not know how many of these individuals were employed at the time of their overdose, we do know that the work environment, including potential work-related injuries, can increase the potential for opioid use.
The opioid overdose epidemic has also worsened with a rise in the use of illicit opioids or other drugs, like cocaine and heroin, which can be contaminated with potent opioids like fentanyl. The increased prevalence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and their analogues (equivalents) has also become an emerging threat to law enforcement officers, fire fighters, first responders, ambulance attendants, and others who may be exposed in the course of their work. We have worked closely with our partners to develop guidance for emergency responders and healthcare workers who are at risk for exposure to fentanyl and its analogues, sharing that guidance on web pages focused on the issue.
We recently released a new web page to outline NIOSH’s approach to this important topic. Our approach considers the “lifecycle” of opioid use, from precursors in the workplace, to use conditions, to containment and decontamination, and to recommendations targeted for protecting workers.
This framework details the approach of examining workplace conditions that can be risk factors for medically prescribed opioid use becoming opioid misuse, protecting responders from exposure to fentanyls and their equivalents, developing methods of rapid detection of dangerously potent opioids in a workplace, and providing information about effective decontamination of workplaces.
We all have an important role in preventing opioid overdose deaths through education, partnership, and collaboration. Improving communication and collaboration between public health and public safety can help identify changes in illicit drug supply and coordinate a more timely and effective response.
NIOSH, along with our partners, will continue to develop resources to provide guidance and education to help workers and employers stay safe.
Learn more on our opioid website.
New Report Shows Black Lung Increase Most Pronounced in Central Appalachia
One in ten underground coal miners who have worked in mines for at least 25 years were identified as having black lung, according to a new report by NIOSH published in the American Journal of Public Health. Coal miners in central Appalachia are disproportionately affected with as many as 1 in 5 having evidence of black lung—the highest level recorded in 25 years. Learn more.
In This Issue
New CBRN Respiratory Protection Handbook Available
NIOSH has released a new Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Respiratory Protection Handbook. This handbook fills the need for authoritative technical information on CBRN respiratory protective devices. The information will assist users in the selection, use, and maintenance of CBRN respirators and will be particularly useful to individuals responsible for administering respiratory protection programs and/or developing training programs.
New Workers’ Compensation Charts Released for State of Ohio
NIOSH released interactive charts and graphs that display summaries of Ohio workers’ compensation injury claims. This effort was conducted in partnership with The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and provides users with the ability to search general causes of injury, no matter the industry. Learn more.
Safe + Sound Week 2018 is Almost Here!
There are many reasons to get involved in Safe + Sound Week, August 13–19. Register now to join the more than 900 organizations already planning to participate. You can also find free trainings and events being held near you on the Safe + Sound Week map. Want to participate, but unsure where to start? Watch the webinar, Safe + Sound Week 2018—Are Your Ready to Show Your Commitment to Safety?, or download Safe + Sound Week for Any Schedule for ways your organization can celebrate.
NIOSH Diversity Awards Winners
The NIOSH Diversity Awards recognize deserving employees each June during Diversity Month. This year Linda Burrow, Art Miller, Bob Streicher, and Harold Boyles were recognized for their commitment to diversity in the way they support, inspire, and exhibit diversity each day.
Comment Now On New Draft NORA Agendas
- The National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance is open for public comment until August 20.
- The National Occupational Research Agenda for Oil and Gas Extraction is open for public comment until September 24.
Final NORA Construction Agenda Now Available
The NORA Construction Sector Council has finalized its research agenda after considering public comments and making revisions.
NORA Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Council Moves Forward on Third Decade Projects
The NORA AgFF Sector Council research agenda was published in May. The council met in July to begin a process to develop projects towards the achievement of agenda goals. The council also heard a presentation by Dr. David Douphrate at the University of Texas, San Antonio, about collaborations between researchers and industry to improve dairy workers’ health. For more information or to contribute to the discussion about the project, email Brad Husberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collaboration between NIOSH and Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Recently, NIOSH and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society signed a collaborative agreement to develop and co-publish proceedings of a one-day symposium titled, “Exoskeletons in the Workplace – Assessing Safety, Usability, & Productivity.” The symposium will be held on October 1, in Philadelphia, PA, and is open to the public. For more information, contact Brian Lowe at BLowe@cdc.gov or (513) 533-8161.
Exploring OSHA Industrial Hygiene Data for Hazard Surveillance
The Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has released a new technical report that summarizes Washington’s OSHA industrial hygiene data. In addition to the written report, a database was established for Washington-OSHA compliance and consultation officers. Users can now query their OSHA data by chemical or by industry to learn about the chemical and noise hazards documented in past inspections. This NIOSH-funded hazard surveillance effort is a novel prevention effort as it can reduce disease risk by identifying underlying, and possibly emerging, hazardous exposures.
NIOSH Extramural Researcher Honored for Improving Health and Safety of Home Care Workers
The American Industrial Hygiene Association honored Dr. Margaret Quinn, a NIOSH grant-funded researcher, with the organization’s Alice Hamilton Award. Named after renowned occupational physician Dr. Alice Hamilton, this award recognizes an outstanding woman who has made lasting contributions in the field of industrial hygiene. Quinn, a faculty member and researcher at University of Massachusetts Lowell, has dedicated most of her career to improving the quality and safety of home healthcare. For the latest information on NIOSH-funded extramural activities, go to the Extramural Research and Training Programs web page.
Evaluation of Musculoskeletal Disorders among Pharmacy Employees
HHE Program investigators found that pharmacy employees used repetition, forceful movements, and awkward postures. Many employees reported symptoms consistent with work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Investigators recommended reducing the number of return-to-stock bottles that need to be opened, removing child-resistant caps from larger quantity medication bottles, and educating employees on musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics. Read the HHE report to learn more.
Evaluation of Lead Exposures at a Bullet Manufacturer
Finding blood lead levels equal to or above 5 micrograms per deciliter (the NIOSH reference blood lead level for adults), HHE Program investigators recommended improving ventilation, starting a lead program, and using wet cleaning methods. Investigators also recommended providing an on-site laundry, dedicated work clothes, and separate lockers for street and work clothes. Read the HHE report to learn more.
- Workplace Noise: More than just “All Ears”
- How Can We Measure Impulse Noise Properly?
- Expanding and Improving Occupational Safety and Health Content in Wikipedia. It Matters
- Grounds for Change: Reducing Noise Exposure in Grounds Management Professionals – Part 1
- Program Performance One-Pagers are available for the following NIOSH programs and centers:
- Video: Fishing Safety Success Story: I Reached Over and Hit the E-Stop
Draft-National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance
The notice was posted on June 21. Comments must be received by August 20.
Surveillance of Nonfatal Injuries Among On-Duty Law Enforcement Officers–New
The notice was posted on July 20. Comments must be received by September 18.
Assessing Impact of the NIOSH Research–New
The notice was posted on July 20. Comments must be received by September 18.
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, 2017. Nominations must be postmarked or submitted electronically by February 1, 2019.
Work, Stress and Health Conference
Deadline for paper and presentation proposals is January 28, 2019
Association of Occupational Health Nurses in Healthcare
September 5–8, Glendale, AZ
National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
September 11–13, Atlanta, GA
19th Conference of the International Society for Respiratory Protection
September 15–20, Denver, CO
Exoskeletons in the Workplace – Assessing Safety, Usability, & Productivity
October 1, Philadelphia, PA
National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2018
October 16–18, Morgantown, WV
2019 National HIV Prevention Conference
March 18–21, 2019, Atlanta, GA
Work, Stress and Health Conference
November 6–9, 2019, Philadelphia, PA
A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences is available on the NIOSH conferences and events web page.
In 1997, a NIOSH study found that the children of construction workers who worked with lead were much more likely to have elevated blood lead levels compared to other children. The innovative study represented the first comprehensive investigation of lead contamination in the homes of workplace-exposed construction workers. More information is available
- Page last reviewed: August 3, 2018
- Page last updated: August 3, 2018
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director