eNews: Volume 16, Number 8 (December 2018)

Volume 16, Number 8 (December 2018)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Advancing Oil and Gas Workplace Safety and Health Research

The oil and gas extraction industry continues to expand in the United States, but this growth comes with increased risks for workers in the industry. During 2003–2016, 1,485 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job, resulting in an annual fatality rate more than six times higher than the rate among all U.S. workers.

NIOSH is collaborating with partners in industry, government, academia, labor, and with other stakeholders to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes to improve worker safety and health across the oil and gas extraction industry. On December 4–5, NIOSH will gather with these partners as well as hundreds of other oil and gas safety and health professionals, managers, and workers in Houston for the 2018 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conferenceexternal icon. This is the largest gathering of safety and health professionals in the oil and gas extraction industry. Attendees will hear from researchers across many disciplines about research and prevention activities designed to keep the workers in the U.S. oilfields safe and healthy. Below are examples of NIOSH research that will be featured at this conference.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related death in the oil and gas extraction industry, and fatigue is an important risk factor in many of these crashes. Oil and gas workers drive long distances from their homes, lodging sites, and equipment yards to reach well sites that are often in remote areas. The combination of long trips and long shifts can result in fatigue. Earlier this year, NIOSH published fatigued driving prevention fact sheets for both employers and workers in the oil and gas extraction industry. This information will be shared with researchers and workplace safety and health professionals gathering next year in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for a symposium entitled Working Hours, Sleep & Fatigue: Meeting the Needs of American Workers and Employers.

NIOSH is expanding the Fatalities in Oil and Gas (FOG) database to include non-fatal injuries. The purpose of this effort is to provide more detailed, industry-specific data that will increase what is currently known about non-fatal injuries in this workforce. In addition to FOG, our epidemiologists are completing a national survey of oil and gas workers that will provide new information about the workforce and safety and health issues these workers face. This information will be used to help direct future research and prevention efforts. NIOSH is the first to conduct such a survey, and we look forward to sharing the results next year.

Previous work by NIOSH and our partners alerted the oil and gas extraction industry to the hazards associated with manually gauging, sampling, and transferring fluids in oilfield production tanks. NIOSH and partners developed several communication products to highlight these hazards. The first is a video describing the impact of a tank-gauging fatality from the perspective of the worker’s family. NIOSH researchers also wrote a science blog post that describes exposure hazards associated with transferring fluids to mobile tanker trucks. The blog includes a video link that uses forward-looking infrared (FLIR) video to show the hazardous gases and vapors that accumulate around a worker when venting is not done properly. The use of FLIR cameras allows workers to see the hazard, which is not visible otherwise. By sharing this information, NIOSH provides the industry with a better understanding of how hydrocarbon gases and vapors behave and effective strategies for preventing exposures.

Finally, NIOSH is conducting new projects to characterize exposure hazards to workers involved in drilling operations, such as hydrocarbon vapors and dermal exposures to drilling muds. Other NIOSH projects evaluate controls to prevent exposures to hazards previously identified among well servicing operations, for example, respirable crystalline silica, hydrocarbon gases and vapors, and diesel particulate matter.

These projects would not be possible without the cooperation of industry partners in drilling, servicing, and operating companies. However, to continue to advance occupational safety and health research in the oil and gas extraction industry, NIOSH needs to establish new partnerships with industry and other stakeholders. Please consider partnering with NIOSH to improve safety and health in this important industry. For more information about this work or to collaborate with NIOSH, please reach out to David Caruso (DCaruso@cdc.gov).


NIOSH Anchorage Office Update

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck outside of Anchorage Alaska on November 30 caused significant damage to buildings and roads in the area, including the NIOSH offices in Anchorage. While the office and building sustained some damage, all NIOSH staff and contractors are accounted for and physically safe. We will continue to support our staff in Anchorage as we assess any impact the earthquake will have on the research.

Feedback Wanted on Barriers to Participating in Free Health Screenings

The NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program needs your help identifying barriers to participating in free health screenings. This information will improve program participation and provide more opportunities for early detection of black lung disease in coal miners. Submit your feedback here. external icon

NEW Officer Road Code Toolkit

drive to arrive alive

Promoting motor vehicle safety among patrol officers helps them stay safe while they work to make communities safer. The design of this NIOSH toolkit promotes safe driving practices within an agency so that patrol officers operate by a unified code behind the wheel: Drive to Arrive Alive. Downloadexternal icon the toolkit to access instructions, 40 safety messages, and a decal.

NIOSH Announces New Deputy Associate Director for Mining

Dr. George W. Luxbacher has been selected to serve as the Deputy Associate Director for Mining in the NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), effective immediately. Since joining NIOSH in February 2017, Dr. Luxbacher has made significant contributions to the NIOSH Mining Program as a Senior Mining Engineer. In this position, he held primary responsibility for the extramural research program within OMSHR and served as the NORA Sector Council Manager, among other roles. Dr. Luxbacher has also provided expertise and leadership in a number of key programmatic and operational areas, resulting in numerous improvements in science quality and operational efficiency.

Subscribe to “Behind the Wheel at Work” Safety Newsletter

Sign up for our workplace motor vehicle safety newsletter, Behind the Wheel at Work, before we release the 13th issue to our over 25,000 subscribers. Since 2015, we’ve connected our readers to subject-matter experts, exclusive interviews, research updates, practical tips on workplace driving safety, news about upcoming events, and links to NIOSH and partner safety resources.

Working With International Leadership Program

As part of its work to enhance international workplace safety and health through global collaborations, NIOSH is working with the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to foster knowledge sharing and budding partnerships between international Ministries of Health and Labor. Recently, NIOSH Office of the Chief of Staff met with a delegation of labor officials from the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower (photo bottom left) where NIOSH Chief of Staff Frank Hearl presented an overview of NIOSH programs, research, information resources, and tools for prevention. On December 3, NIOSH hosted another delegation through IVLP, this time from Mongolia (photo bottom right), that presented on the Mongolian structure of occupational safety and health. These meetings give NIOSH opportunities for international collaboration and sharing of NIOSH-created resources and tools, supporting our common goal of safer, healthier workers worldwide.

nternational leadership program mongolia


Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH National Institutes of Health Director’s Award Recipients
Dr. Sarah Felknor, NIOSH Associate Director for Research Integration and Extramural Performance and Dr. Maria Lioce, Program Official in the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs Scientific received the 2018 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Award. They received this award for their leadership in the NIH Fogarty International Center Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) Programexternal icon.


Comment Now on New Draft NORA Agenda
The National Occupational Research Agenda for Immune, Infectious, and Dermal Disease Preventionexternal icon is open for public comment until January 7, 2019.

Final NORA Agenda Now Available
The Musculoskeletal Health Cross-Sector Council’s final research agenda is now available. It includes five objectives: 1) define the incidence and impact of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), 2) understand the risk factors, 3) describe the underlying mechanisms, 4) develop and evaluate interventions to prevent MSDs and limit disability, and 5) disseminate and implement interventions.

Upcoming TWU Council meeting
The next Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (TWU) Council virtual meeting is December 10, 1–3 pm, ET. The meeting will focus on health and well-being for TWU workers and feature four short presentations. Contact NORACoordinator@cdc.gov for more information.

News from Our Partners

New Online Training Available on Musculoskeletal Injuries in Healthcare Workers
Nurses can earn five continuing education hours through a new online course: Ergonomics in Healthcare: A Continuing Education Program for Nurses Nursing Assistants and Healthcare Managersexternal icon. This free, on-demand training focuses on 10 critical parts of an effective program to prevent nurses and other healthcare workers from experiencing muscle and joint injuries on the job. The training was developed by the Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplaceexternal icon, a NIOSH-funded Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®.

New FACE Reports

New Fire Fighter Investigations and Prevention Program Reports

Cadet Dies from Hyperthermia and Exertional Heat Stroke During Indoor SCBA Maze Training—Texas
A career fire fighter cadet participated in SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) maze training. On the third day of training, the cadet collapsed. The cadet was transported to a hospital and was pronounced dead.

Career Fire Fighter Falls From Aerial Ladder While Carrying Roof Kit During Training—California
A career fire fighter fell while carrying a “roof kit” (two six-foot trash hooks strapped together with webbing for shoulder carry) up an aerial ladder during a training exercise. The fire fighter climbed approximately 60 feet up and fell; he landed on the deck portion of the apparatus. He was transported to a trauma center and died two days later.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Nonproduction Area Lead Exposures at a Battery Manufacturing Plant
HHE Program investigators found airborne and surface lead in all nonproduction areas and lead on employee hand wipes. Investigators recommended improving ventilation, redesigning employee locker rooms to have distinct clean and dirty sides, and ensuring employees take the recommended amount of time to walk through the air shower when exiting the production area. Read the HHE reportexternal icon to learn more.

Evaluation of a Medicinal Cannabis Manufacturing Facility
After HHE Program investigators found cannabis components on surface wipes throughout the facility, they recommended local exhaust ventilation for grinding operations. They further recommended moving the decarboxylation process to an area with less occupancy and developing a cleaning schedule to remove cannabis components from work and tool surfaces. Read the HHE reportexternal icon to learn more.

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

New NIOSH Communication Products

Program Performance One Pagers

Workplace Solutions

Using Total Worker Health® Concepts to Reduce Fatigue Among Retail Workers


November Research Rounds Volume 4, Number 5

Federal Register Notices of Public Comment

NIOSH Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health
The noticeexternal icon was posted on November 2. The meeting will be held on December 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., PST, and December 13, 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., PST. A public comment session will be held on December 12, at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 6:30 p.m. or following the final call for public comment, whichever comes first.

Implementation of Section 2695 (42 U.S.C. 300ff-131) Public Law 111-87: Infectious Diseases and Circumstances Relevant to Notification Requirements: Definition of Emergency Response Employee
The noticeexternal icon was posted on October 17. Comments must be received by December 17.

Draft-National Occupational Research Agenda for Immune, Infectious and Dermal Disease Prevention (IID)
The noticeexternal icon was posted on November 8. Comments must be received by January 7, 2019.

Barriers to Participation in the NIOSH Coal Workers Health Surveillance Program
The noticeexternal icon was posted on November 13. Comments must be received by January 14, 2019.

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 icon was posted on March 22, 2017. Nominations must be postmarked or submitted electronically by February 1, 2019.

Call for Proposals

Work, Stress and Health Conferenceexternal icon
Deadline for paper and presentation proposals is January 28, 2019.

Upcoming Seminars/Conferences

2019 National HIV Prevention Conference
March 18–21, 2019, Atlanta, GA

29th Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conferenceexternal icon
April 1–5, 2019, Hilton Head, SC

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

Twenty-Fourth International Symposium on Shiftwork & Working Timeexternal icon
September 9–13, 2019, Coeur d’Alene, ID

Working Hours, Sleep & Fatigue Forum: Meeting the Needs of American Workers & Employers
September 13–14, 2019, Coeur d’Alene, ID

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

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences is available on the NIOSH website.

This Month in History

With the recent focus on robots and worker safety, it may be surprising to learn that NIOSH first addressed this issue 34 years ago. In 1984, NIOSH released safety recommendations for working with robots after an experienced operator of an automated die-cast system died when he became pinned between the back end of an industrial robot and a steel safety pole.

Page last reviewed: December 3, 2018