Volume 17, Number 5 (September 2019)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Celebrating 100 Years of Respiratory Protection: Looking Back and Moving Forward

This week, NIOSH is celebrating 100 years of respiratory protection as part of our first annual Respiratory Protection Week. This event honors a century of respiratory protection research, evaluation, and testing and celebrates how far we have come in this effort to protect workers.

Today an estimated 5 million U.S. workers are required to wear respirators for their jobs. More than 11 million U.S. healthcare workers would need respiratory protection during an infectious respiratory pandemic. Respirators are critical for many workers, and our research helps to inform and improve the design and application of respirators to ensure worker safety and health.

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) has been home to the federal government’s respiratory protection activities since its formation in 2001. NPPTL has approved more than 9,000 respirator configurations for use in American workplaces. In the past five years alone, NPPTL has made 2,390 respirator approval decisionspdf icon and completed 1,264 respirator audit activities for quality assurancepdf icon.

With information drawn from almost twenty years of collaboration and NPPTL’s specific research and experience, NIOSH has identified respirator comfort, fit, and usability as key factors influencing worker compliance with respiratory protection requirements. NPPTL research addresses these issues and supports the development of improved respirator designs. For example, their research led to new performance requirements for improved respirator designsexternal icon, as well as important data that support OSHA’s annual fit testing requirement.  Furthermore, following the 2009 H1N1 and 2013 H7N9 influenza pandemics, NPPTL developed several online resources to improve respirator use in healthcare settings, including the Hospital Respiratory Protection Toolkit.

Even as we reflect on the past, we are looking to a future focused on working with our partners to determine the best approaches to increase respirator use compliance. This future includes a long list of goals: (1) increase the readiness of respirators to meet contemporary chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threatspdf icon; (2) identify potential gaps in existing respirator conformity assessment frameworks; (3) determine the effects of stockpiling on respirator performancepdf icon; (4) leverage multiuse respirator technologiesexternal icon; (5) develop improved systems for respirator surveillance and monitoringexternal icon; and (6) provide PPE selectors with a single database that connects them to PPE meeting relevant requirements.

Please join us this week as we celebrate 100 Years of Respiratory Protection. I invite you to read about the extensive NIOSH history of respiratory protection research and register to attend one of our related webinars:

If you can’t make one of the webinars, they will be recorded and posted after the event.


Honoring Our Nation’s Workers

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., has released his annual statement for Labor Day recognizing and honoring the contributions of working men and women across the country. Read the full statement.

Get Prepared!

September is National Preparedness Monthexternal icon, and hurricane season continues into November. It is important that emergency responders, volunteers, workers, and employers are prepared for any disaster. Find resources on our website, and follow NIOSH on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest emergency preparedness and response resources and information all month long.

New Resource Available for Small Business International Travelers

This new web page was designed to help the small business owner and their employees anticipate and plan for safe and healthy travel abroad. This resource will help them understand international travel concerns and provide them with resources to address them. The site contains essential health and safety information, tools and links to additional valuable information.

NIOSH Update: New Study Details Prevalence of Hearing Loss in Mining and Oil and Gas Workers

A new study by NIOSH researchers published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicineexternal icon is the first to examine hearing loss prevalence and risk by industry within the Oil and Gas Extraction sector, and within most Mining sector industries. Researchers found that in many industries within these sectors, at least 25% of the workers had hearing loss. In some industries, more than 30% had hearing loss. Read more about the study.

NIOSH is celebrating 100 years of respiratory protection as part of our first annual Respiratory Protection Week
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American Indian and Alaska Native Worker Safety and Health Workshop Update

Presentationsexternal icon are now available from the “Building Bridges to Enhance the Well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Workers Workshop” that was held in July. Workshop discussions included a variety of occupational safety and health topics ranging from data sharing to Tribal occupational safety and health laws and codes. Participants also contributed to the development of an AI/AN worker safety and health strategic plan (expected to be publicly available Spring 2020) that centered around research, capacity building, practice, and policy. This is the second workshop of its type and was convened by NIOSH in partnership with the National Indian Health Board and the Center for Health, Work, and Environmentexternal icon.

Upcoming Webinar on Expanded Focus for OSH

expanding research partnerships 2019 webinar series

Registration is openexternal icon for the last installment of the 2019 Expanding Research Partnerships Webinar Series! Join us on September 18 for a webinar on the expanded focus for occupational safety and health. Paul A. Schulte, PhD, NIOSH Director of the Division of Science Integration, will present “Towards An Expanded Focus for Occupational Safety and Health,” and George Delclos, MD, MPH, PhD, Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, will present “The Expanded Focus for Occupational Safety and Health (OSH): Implications for Research and Training of OSH Professionals.” The event is 12:00–1:30 p.m. (ET).

Nanotechnology Research Center Needs Input

NIOSH is working with RTI International to distribute a survey to companies that manufacture, distribute, fabricate, formulate, use, or provide services related to engineered nanomaterials. The goal of the survey is to assess the impact of NIOSH’s contribution to guidelines and risk mitigation practices for the safe handling of engineered nanomaterials in the workplace. Feedback from this survey will inform NIOSH’s research agenda to enhance relevance and impact on creating guidance to manage nanomaterial workers safety and health. The survey will only take about 20 minutes to complete. If you or someone you know receives an invitation to complete this survey, please know that we look forward to and value your input! If you have any questions, contact Adrienne Eastlake,

Monthly Features

New Communication Products & Reports

Health Hazard Evaluation Reports

FACE Reports

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Report


Program Performance One Pager (PPOPs)


NIOSH Science Blog

Federal Register Notices

Mine Safety and Health Research Advisory Committee (MSHRAC), Health Advisory in the Mining Program (HAMP) Workgroup
The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 2. The meeting will be held on September 5 and 6.

State-based Occupational Health Surveillance; Request for Information and Meeting Notice
The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 19. The meeting will be held on September 16. Comments must be received by October 18.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); World Trade Center Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (WTCHP STAC)
The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 19. The meeting will be held on September 18.

Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BSC, NIOSH)
The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 2. The meeting will be held on September 24.

Guidelines for Determining the Probability of Causation Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000; Technical Amendments
The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 1. Comments must be received by September 30.

See the NIOSH Federal Register website for a full listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices.

National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)

The final National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for Hearing Loss Prevention is now available. It has five research objectives:

  • Objective 1: Provide scientific basis for policies and guidelines that will inform best practices for hearing loss prevention efforts
  • Objective 2: Develop effective, evidence-based education designed to improve hearing conservation program outcomes for exposed workers and management
  • Objective 3: Develop, commercialize, and widely implement noise control solutions on jobsites in key industries
  • Objective 4: Develop audiological tests for hearing loss prevention
  • Objective 5: Improve occupational hearing loss surveillance

Contact the NORA Coordinator to get involved in the NORA Hearing Loss Prevention Council.

News from Our Partners

The Center for Construction Research and Training Quarterly  Report
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) recently released their quarterly report, Trends of Fall Injuries and Prevention in the Construction Industrypdf iconexternal icon. This issue discusses falls, which remain the most common cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry. Encouragingly, the rate of fatal falls showed signs of decreasing among roofers, the occupation with the highest risk of falls, and among construction laborers, the largest occupation in the industry.

New Report on Acute Occupational Pesticide Poisonings in Texas
The Texas Department of State Health Services Occupational Health Surveillance (OHS) Program recently released a new report, Acute Occupational Pesticide Poisonings in Texas, 2006–2015pdf iconexternal icon. This document summarizes acute occupational pesticide poisonings (AOPP) in Texas over time using OHS program data. The report shows that from 2006 to 2015, the rate of AOPP was highest in younger workers (16–17 years age group). Furthermore, regardless of industry sector, workers in service occupations had the highest rate. According to the report, more than half of AOPP cases involved exposures to disinfectants.

New Workplace Hazard Update on Anesthetic Gas Risk for Veterinary Workers
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Occupational Health Branch released a new Workplace Hazard Update on Isofluranepdf iconexternal icon, providing guidance for minimizing exposure to isoflurane. There is increasing evidence that exposure to isoflurane—the anesthetic gas commonly used in veterinary practice—may pose health risks, including nervous or reproductive system harm. This new document resulted from a CDPH investigation that found high levels of isoflurane in workers’ breathing zones during common veterinary procedures and revealed that workers were often unaware of dangers related to the gas.

September 15–21 is National Farm Safety Week
NIOSH joins the Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health (Ag Centers) in recognizing National Farm Safety and Health Weekexternal icon as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of working together to prevent injuries and illnesses among agricultural workers. The theme for this week (September 15–21) is “Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear.”

September 18 Ergonomics Webinar
The NIOSH-funded Education and Research Centers (ERCs) will hold the eighth installment of their 2019 Ergonomics Webinar Seriesexternal icon on Wednesday, September 18, 3–4 p.m. (ET). Dr. Sean Gallagher of Auburn University will present on “The Fatigue Failure Approach for Ergonomic Assessment: Research Updates.” The ergonomic webinar series offers free monthly webinars on occupational safety and health topics related to human factors and ergonomics. Learn more or register hereexternal icon.

Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes
OSHA recently released a new webpageexternal icon that shows how businesses can improve safety and health programs by tracking workplace conditions and events to prevent injuries or illnesses before they occur.

Free Online Silica Hazard Awareness Course Now Available
NIOSH supported the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA) in the development and revision of the OHTA “Silica Hazard Awareness” course that was launched at the end of July. The awareness-level module is designed to be delivered as a one-day program. The materials include PowerPoint slides and a student manual that are available for free on the OH learning websiteexternal icon. Several current and former NIOSH staff contributed to the development and revision of the course including LCDR Reed Grimes, LCDR Catherine Beaucham, CDR Marna Hoard, Deborah Hoyer, and RADM (ret) Dr. Margaret Kitt. The course materials are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Leslie Nickels who was a tireless supporter of OHTA and whose coordination efforts and leadership within NIOSH were central to the development of the materials

Webinars, Conferences & Events

Call for Proposals
30th Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference. Deadline for proposalsexternal icon is October 4.

Call for Abstracts
7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health Deadline for abstractsexternal icon is October 30.

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

Upcoming Conferences
Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare National Conferenceexternal iconLook for Us!
September 4–7, Baltimore, MD

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

United Steelworkers of America Health and Safety Expo and Conferenceexternal icon
September 9–13, Pittsburgh, PA

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, ID

National Association of Occupational Health Professionals 33rd Annual National Conferenceexternal icon
September 15–18, Phoenix, AZ

Annual Poverty Research and Policy Forum: Human Services Programs and the Opioid Crisisexternal icon
September 17, Washington, D.C.

Mid-Atlantic Safety and Health Allianceexternal iconLook for Us!
September 26, Cranberry Township, PA

RoboBusiness Conferenceexternal icon
October 1–3, Santa Clara, CA

ErgoX 2019external icon
October 28, Seattle, WA

63rd International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Societyexternal icon
October 28–November 1, Seattle, WA

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expoexternal icon
November 2–6, Philadelphia, PA

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

30th Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conferenceexternal icon
April 20–24, 2020, Hilton Head Island, SC

7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Healthexternal icon
May 27–29, 2020, Durban, South Africa

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

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at NIOSH Conferences and Events.

Page last reviewed: September 3, 2019