Update on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response

General Resources

Heat Stress Fact Sheets
CDC published fact sheets for employees and employers on heat stress prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Industry-Specific Resources

Limiting Workplace Violence
CDC developed guidance for employers and employees in retail, services, and other customer-based businesses, to help prevent workplace violence associated with enforcing COVID-19 prevention policies.

Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff From COVID-19
CDC developed guidance to supplement existing CDC considerations. It is intended for K-12 school administrators preparing school programs for staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prioritizing Nonhealthcare Worksite Assessments
CDC developed guidance to assist state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments in making decisions about how to allocate limited resources to respond to worksites reporting COVID-19-related concerns, complaints, or clusters.

Fact Sheets for Beauty Salons and Barber Shops
CDC developed fact sheets for beauty salon and barbershop employees and employers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Upcoming Webinar: September 11, 1–2 p.m. (EDT): Issues Facing Collegiate Dining
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, new questions arise daily on how to safely serve students on campuses. Experts from the CDC will answer questions. Registrationexternal icon is required.

Volume 18, Number 5 (September 2020)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D. Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Recognizes 7th Year of Safety Stand-Downs to Prevent Falls In Construction

Many employers and workers around the world will take a break from work to participate in the 2020 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Constructionexternal icon on September 14–18.

The National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction was launched in 2012 by the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector Council with leadership from NIOSH, OSHA, and CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training. In 2014, the partners decided to dedicate five days each year to a national safety stand-down event where employers and workers would focus on preventing falls.

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for about one of three construction fatalities. Thousands more workers suffer serious injuries because they lack the right safety equipment or the knowledge and training to prevent falls. Roofers, Hispanics, and older workers, as well as those working for small businesses, are most affected.

Construction falls are preventable. To respond to these preventable deaths and injuries, NIOSH researchers and partners have created helpful tools that can be highlighted during the stand-down:

Throughout the week of the campaign, individual safety stand-downs are hosted by participating employers to educate workers about preventing construction falls through toolbox talks, demonstrations, and trainings. The campaign encourages contractors to follow three clear guidelines to prevent falls: Plan ahead to do the job safely before starting each and every job. Provide the right equipment for working at heights. Train workers to use the equipment properly and to work safely on roofs, ladders, and scaffolds.

Last year, thousands of worksites participated in stand-down eventsexternal icon, reaching almost half-a-million workers across all 50 states and internationally. Industry and business leaders, universities, labor organizations, and community groups participated. More than one third of stand-downs involved firms with fewer than 20 workers. Small construction firms this size account for 75% of fatal falls.

It’s not too late to host a stand-down this year. NIOSH invites you to join or host a virtual or socially distant stand-down and contribute to what has become an increasingly successful effort to prevent falls in construction. Your involvement can be as simple as sharing some of our resources at your worksite. Visit our stop construction fallsexternal icon webpage for more information, resources, and tools, including infographicsexternal icon, training materials, videosexternal icon, hard-hat stickers, fall-related hazard alert cards, toolbox talks, and other stand-down resources available in both English and Spanish.

Research Rounds
Inside NIOSH:
Where Do We Start: Prioritizing Prevention Efforts for Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common occupational injury, accounting for somewhere between 20% and 25% of work-related trauma. So, researchers at NIOSH are working to identify how best to focus prevention efforts for occupational TBIs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define TBI as “disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” TBIs can be mild; however, some can be fatal or cause short- to long-term disability. More severe TBIs can impact a worker’s ability to return to their preinjury job and be expensive for both workers and employers in long-term rehabilitation and disability costs. The devastating consequences of occupational TBI prompted NIOSH researchers to conduct an analysis of work-related TBIs, which was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

The NIOSH study used data from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to analyze 12,891 TBI cases from 2001 through 2011. The aim was to identify which industries are at higher risk for TBI to prioritize occupational prevention efforts. Of these cases, 40% (n = 5,171) were lost time TBIs (meaning the employee lost ≥ 8 days away from work). Researchers identified high-risk industry groups using a ranking measure, giving equal weight to both TBI counts and rates. Industry groups that are ranked higher indicate a greater burden or risk of TBIs. In this study, researchers identified construction, truck transportation, and services to buildings and dwellings as priority industry sectors for prevention of lost-time TBIs.

Spectator sports had the highest lost-time TBI rate (13.5 per 10,000 full-time employees) while general freight trucking had the highest number of lost-time TBIs (n = 293). Several industry groups within the construction sector also represented a large number of the top 10 rankings for lost time TBIs.

In the article, NIOSH researchers suggest prevention efforts that could be tailored to different industries, understanding that TBI risks vary based on the nature of work. For example, the authors note that an industry group like general freight trucking transportation, with a high count and high rate, indicates a hazardous industry. Large, hazardous industries require comprehensive prevention programs including enforcement, outreach, and communication. However, an industry group like spectator sports, with a low count but a high rate, is a smaller industry group where risk may be concentrated in one area. In this case, a focused assessment for injury prevention would be more appropriate.

Next steps include research identifying which work tasks pose the greatest risk for TBIs within the identified high-risk industry groups to improve direct prevention efforts.

More information is available:

Outside NIOSH:
Lasting Effects for Those Returning to Work After Permanent Work-related Injury

Workplace and workers’ compensation-based programs are needed for workers with permanent injuries to assist them in returning to work and prevent them from getting hurt again, according to a recent study from NIOSH-funded researchers at the University of Washington.

There are nearly three million nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States each year. Of these, roughly 10% (300,000) result in permanent injury and ongoing partial disability. Certain workers’ compensation awards pay workers with work injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working at full capacity but may not keep them from returning to work.

Researchers surveyed workers from Washington State with relevant workers’ compensation claims to learn about their first year of going back to work. The aim of the survey was to describe outcomes for workers with permanent injury who had returned to work within a year of when their workers’ compensation claim closed. Workers with a higher degree of injury were more likely to report poorer health status, poorer work-related ability, and problems getting or keeping a job compared to workers with a lower degree of injury.

Along with difficulty getting (47%) and keeping a job (58%), these workers report modest to severe pain (66%) and pain that gets in the way of working (40%). More than half of these workers thought their permanent injury increased their chance of getting injured again, and 13% reported new work injuries. Of these workers, 10.6% reported taking chronic opioids, defined as 60 or more days in a row in the past year.

The study suggests that workers with permanent injuries face long-term challenges. These challenges include chronic pain and limits caused by poorer health, as well as difficulty remaining on the job and ongoing economic impacts. To help these workers go back to work and stay working, and to reduce their risk of getting hurt again, intervening with workplace and workers’ compensation system programs should be seen as priorities.

More information is available:

Stand Down hardhat sticker

Hard hat sticker for the campaign. Image credit: CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training

NIOSH eNews is Brought to You By:

John Howard, M.D., Director
Christina Spring, Editor in Chief

Managing Editor
Tanya Headley

Section Editors
Anne Blank, Research Rounds
Kiana Harper, Highlights & Monthly Features

Contributing Editors
Sarah Mitchell
Emily Norton
Donjanea Williams

Copy Editor
Cheryl Hamilton

Technical Support
Steve Leonard, Technical Lead
Tonya White, Web Developer

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NIOSH Report on Filtration Efficiency of Non-NIOSH-Approved Respiratory Devices
A new NIOSH PPE CASE Report summarizes the first phase results of the NIOSH assessment of the filtration efficiency performance of non-NIOSH-approved international respiratory protective devices. NIOSH designed a process to assess the particulate filtration performance because these non-NIOSH-approved respirators could potentially be used by U.S. workers. The goal is to provide consumers of personal respiratory protection, and other interested parties, a point-of-use quantitative assessment of these devices.

Special Virtual Session: COVID-19 & Occupational Safety and Health
The XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, International Organizing Committee is offering  free virtual sessionsexternal icon on COVID-19 and occupational safety and health on October 5, 9 a.m. to noon EDT and October 6, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT. The sessions will feature thought leaders discussing emerging innovations to address COVID-19 in the workplace, how the future of work is being shaped by the global pandemic, and the relevance of promoting a culture of prevention to address COVID-19.

NIOSH Assists With Lebanon Explosion Response
At the request of the National Institutes of Health, the NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Office (EPRO) responded to a request for assistance from the American University in Beirutexternal icon following the ammonium nitrate explosion in Lebanon on August 4. EPRO staff Commander Chad Dowell, U.S. Public Health Service, and Todd Niemeier, MS, CIH, provided valuable safety and health information, including training and worker protection best practices. For more information on this response, contact Chad Dowell at

Funding Announcement

Funding Available for Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®
NIOSH recently published the funding announcementexternal icon for the Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® (TWH). The deadline to apply for this grant is February 3, 2021. For more information, contact NIOSH Scientific Program Official, Dr. Maria Lioce. To learn more about other NIOSH-funded extramural activities, visit Extramural Research and Training Programs.

New Decade of Healthy People 2030
On August 18, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officially launched a new decade of Healthy People: Healthy People 2030. Healthy People is a set of science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving health and well-being in the United States. NIOSH is the lead federal agency responsible for managing and tracking the occupational safety and health (OSH) topic area objectives. Visit the Healthy People 2030external icon webpage to learn about the OSH objectives.

NIOSH Team Expands Occupational Safety and Health Guidance for COVID-19
NIOSH has put together a team of subject matter experts from universities across the country to provide critical occupational health and safety (OSH) guidance and technical assistance to assist employers, workers, government and public health officials with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These experts will be providing support through interagency personnel agreements between NIOSH and their employers. Occupational settings are vital to the long-term efforts to contain COVID-19. Both NIOSH and nonfederal partners will benefit from this collaboration through the advancement of OSH expertise, facilitation of outreach, and development of training. For more information, please contact Lauralynn McKernan or Dawn Castillo.

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH Congratulates icon

NIOSH Engineer Awarded Society of American Military Engineers Green Medal
The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) awarded NIOSH researcher Dr. Chaolong Qi the SAME 2020 Green Medal. The medal is presented for outstanding contributions to public health engineering and science by a U.S. Public Health Service officer. The award also acknowledges Dr. Qi’s contributions to public health engineering and engineering safety controls.

Researcher Honored for Commitment to Public Health Improvement
NIOSH researcher Dr. Kaitlin Kelly-Reif received the Rebecca James Baker award from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiologyexternal icon. This early career investigator award is given to researchers who demonstrate personal integrity, compassion, patience, and resourcefulness. The award also recognizes those with an appreciation of and commitment to research as a tool to foster international understanding and public health improvement.

Monthly Features

New Communication Products & Reports

FACE Reports

Firefighter Fatality Report

Health Hazard Evaluation Reports

Program Performance One-Pagers (PPOP’s)

Topic Pages

NIOSH Science Blog

Federal Register Notice

Reducing Fatigue Among Taxi Drivers

The noticeexternal icon was posted on July 20. Comments must be received by September 18.

Proposed Project: Respiratory Protective Devices

The noticeexternal icon was posted on July 20. Comments must be received by September 18.

Board of Scientific Counselors; Notice of Meeting and Request for Comment 

The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 12. The meeting will be held on September 29.

Research Project to Evaluate and Control Hazards to Landscaping and Grounds Management Workers; Request for Participants

The noticeexternal icon was posted on January 10. Letters of interest must be received by October 16.

Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health; Notice of Meeting and Request for Comment

The noticeexternal icon was posted on August 19. The meeting will be held on October 27.

National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)

NORA Public Safety Sector Council Meeting Spotlights the Latest Science
The NORA Public Safety Sector (PSS) Council will hold a virtual meeting September 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. This meeting will allow researchers and innovators to summarize the scientific work being done in the PSS, no matter the funding source. Topics can include the fire service (wildland and structural), law enforcement, emergency medical services, and corrections. To attend, contact Emily Novicki.

News from Our Partners

National Farm Safety and Health Week September 20–26
NIOSH joins the Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health (Ag Centers) in recognizing National Farm Safety and Health Weekexternal icon as a time to highlight the importance of working together to prevent injuries and illnesses among agricultural workers. The agriculture industry is consistently at the highest risk of occupational injury and fatalities, with harvest season being particularly hazardous. This year’s events will focus on tractor and rural roadway safety, overall farmer health, young workers, emergency preparedness, and women in agriculture. Check out the free webinarspdf iconexternal icon planned throughout the week!

Study Examines Hypertension by Occupation and Sociodemographic Data
The Mississippi State Department of Health recently published a studyexternal icon in the International Journal of Hypertension. This research analyzed data on the prevalence of hypertension among workers in the state by job and sociodemographic characteristics. The Mississippi State Department of Health is a NIOSH-funded state surveillance program.

Free OSHA COVID-19 Print Resources
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is offering COVID-19 posters, wallet cards, and guidance booklets for your workplace. The posters and wallet cards are available in multiple languages and cover topics such as reducing exposure in meat, poultry, and pork processing facilities; correctly wearing a respirator; and agricultural and automotive worker safety. Visit the OSHA publication pageexternal icon to place an order.

Conferences, Meetings, Webinars, & Events

This page provides a list of publicly available occupational safety and health related conferences, meetings, webinars, and events sponsored by NIOSH as well as other government agencies, and non-government agencies such as universities, professional societies, and organizations.

Page last reviewed: September 1, 2020