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eNews: Volume 20, Number 12 (April 2023)

Volume 20, Number 12 (April 2023)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D. Director, NIOSH

A New Plan to Help Ensure the Safety and Health of American Indian and Alaska Native Workers

There are nearly 3 million American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) workers in the United States, yet little information exists on the occupational safety and health risks these workers face.

The highest number of AI/AN workers are employed in office and administrative support, sales, management, transportation and material moving, and food preparation and serving. Many AI/AN workers are also employed through tribal enterprises such as medical care, housing, manufactured products, food production, livestock, and tourism.

Few published studies have specifically looked at occupational safety and health risks among AI/AN workers. To address this knowledge gap, NIOSH recently published the American Indian and Alaska Native Worker Safety and Health Strategic Plan. The plan was developed by NIOSH, in collaboration with tribes, tribal-serving organizations, academia, state and local health departments, and U.S. government agencies.

This 10-year strategic plan outlines the research, information, and actions needed to help prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among AI/AN workers. It is organized into four areas of focus: research, practice, policy, and capacity building. The plan will serve as a guide for the nation to develop research and outreach activities in tribal communities.

We are asking our readers to help share this important information. Tribes and their partners can use this plan to find the best path forward for preventing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among AI/AN workers.

The plan should be viewed as a starting point for a variety of initiatives:

  • Develop partnerships
  • Establish research priorities
  • Guide grant writing
  • Enhance internal capacity
  • Implement local worker safety and health activities

For more information, visit our webpage where you’ll find information and videos about worker safety and health activities in tribal communities. You can also subscribe to get worker safety and health resources, research updates, and news about upcoming events related to AI/AN workers.

Research Rounds

Characterization of Cleaning and Disinfection Product Use, Glove Use, and Skin Disorders by Healthcare Occupations in a Midwestern Healthcare Facility

NIOSH study authors: Lisa Kobos, Kim Anderson, Laura Kurth, Xiaoming Liang, Caroline P. Groth, Lucy England, A. Scott Laney, and M. Abbas Virji

Why is the study important?
To prevent infection, healthcare workers use a variety of products to clean and disinfect everything from medical equipment and surfaces to linens. However, using many of these products repeatedly can result in skin disorders such as irritation and rashes. To protect workers, it is important to understand how often skin disorders occur and how to prevent them with personal protective equipment such as gloves.

How did you do the study?
We examined the results of a questionnaire completed by more than 500 workers at a midwestern Veterans Affairs healthcare facility from July 2012–August 2014. The questionnaire asked about using cleaning and disinfection products, wearing gloves, and having skin and allergy symptoms, as well as occupation and other demographics. Most of the workers were female and white, and their average age was 49 years.

What did you find?
Central supply and environmental service workers, nurses, nurse assistants, and laboratory technicians were the most likely to report using cleaning and disinfection products. The products used most often were bleach, alcohol, and chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds. Compared with those who did not use these products, the odds for having skin disorders were about three times greater among workers using alcohol-containing products and about two times greater for those using bleach or quaternary ammonium compounds. The odds for glove use were about 9 times greater for workers using bleach compared with workers using alcohol, and 13 times greater for workers using quaternary ammonium compounds compared with workers using alcohol.

What are the next steps?
Certain groups of healthcare workers are at higher risk of skin disorders because of what they do at work. Healthcare worker training should include ways to minimize the risks of exposure to cleaning and disinfecting products. This includes wearing proper personal protective equipment such as gloves.

Potential Impacts of Different Occupational Outdoor Heat Exposure Thresholds Among Washington State Crop and Construction Workers and Implications for Other Jurisdictions

Study authors: John C. Flunker, Christopher Zuidema, Jihoon Jung, Edward Kasner, Martin Cohen, Edmund Seto, and Elena Austin, all with the University of Washington; and June T. Spector, University of Washington, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Why is this study important?
Agricultural, construction, and other workers who spend the workday outdoors in high temperatures are at risk of heat-related illness. To reduce occupational heat-related illness and death, it is crucial to understand space and time, or spatiotemporal, trends in exposure and employment.

How did you do the study?
We examined county-level, spatiotemporal patterns of days at or above maximum daily temperature thresholds of 80ºF, 85ºF, 89ºF, 90ºF, and 95ºF for agricultural and construction workers in Washington State (WA) from 2011–2020. We also examined the distribution of heat-wave days. This is defined, based on California’s heat rule, as a day that has a temperature of ≥80°F and is ≥10°F hotter than the average high temperature of the preceding five days. We then estimated the average number of worker-days at risk of being at or above heat thresholds and during heat-wave days.

What did you find?
The number of days at or above heat thresholds varied by both location and time of year. Overall, Central WA, which has a large number of crop workers, had the highest number of days at or above heat thresholds of ≥90°F and ≥95°F. The timing of when heat thresholds were exceeded overlapped with summer peaks in outdoor employment. Heat-wave days were distributed more uniformly across the state, with the longest duration of successive heat-wave days observed in Central WA. Worker-days at risk for exceeding heat thresholds followed exceedance and employment patterns. These were highest in Central WA among crop workers and in Coastal WA among construction workers.

What are the next steps?
As temperatures continue to rise globally, these results highlight the importance of understanding occupational heat exposure in different geographical areas over time. This approach can help inform policies and best practices to protect workers in agriculture, construction, and other work environments subject to high temperatures.

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Photo by ©Getty images

NIOSH eNews is Brought to You By:

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

Managing Editor
Tanya Headley

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

Contributing Editors
Sarah Mitchell

Copy Editor
Cheryl Hamilton

Technical Support
Steve Leonard, Technical Lead
Matt Osborne, Web Developer

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NIOSH & the Post-COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Era
On May 11, the U.S. Government plans to end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). CDC is assessing ongoing surveillance needs and potential revisions to surveillance systems to continue tracking COVID-19 after the PHE ends. In this new chapter of the pandemic, NIOSH will continue to support COVID-19 activities related to occupational safety and health. To learn more on how the end of the PHE will impact workplaces, the Health Action Alliance recently released a fact sheet and hosted a webinar.

NIOSH Seeks New Associate Director for Mining
The announcement for the position of the NIOSH Associate Director for Mining is open. Please consider the position and share with others who may be interested. The announcement closes on April 17.

NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors Seeking Nominations for New Members
The NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors is seeking nominations for new members. The Board is composed of 15 experts who meet twice a year to provide advice on NIOSH’s occupational safety and health research and prevention programs. NIOSH welcomes nominees from diverse backgrounds and with expertise in a variety of disciplines related to occupational safety and health. Send nominations, which are due by April 19, to Read the full announcement for more information.

Foresight Friday @NIOSH Announces Featured Speaker for Next Webinar
Cole Oman, Foresight Leader at Deloitte’s, will be the featured speaker for the next Foresight Friday @NIOSH webinar on April 7 from 11 a.m.–12 p.m. (ET). Cole will explain why understanding and practicing strategic foresight is necessary to navigate uncertainty, manage across time horizons, and build agility and resiliency within organizations to ensure long-term success. Registration is required. Send any questions to

New Video Available: How to Tell if Your N95® Respirator is NIOSH Approved
NIOSH recently released a video that explains how to determine if an N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) is NIOSH approved. NIOSH Approved® N95 respiratory protective devices are the most common type of FFR used in U.S. workplaces. The video also provides tips for recognizing counterfeit and misrepresented respirators.
NIOSH Approved and N95 are certification marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) registered in the United States and several international jurisdictions.

Challenges and Tactics for Fighting Row House Fires
NIOSH recently partnered with the District of Columbia Fire & Emergency Medical Service Department to develop a training video on what firefighters should do when working under duress within densely populated neighborhoods of row houses. The video explains the specific ways fires behave in row houses and the potential for fire extension, which is when the fire moves into the concealed spaces of the features specific to these structures.

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NIOSH Renews Partnership Agreement With Jeonbuk National University
NIOSH and Jeonbuk National University announced the renewal of their mutually beneficial partnership. The partners will continue collaborative efforts toward the development of novel techniques to improve mine safety in highly stressed ground conditions. For more information about this partnership, contact Bo Kim.

News From the Office of Total Worker Health

  • The March edition of the NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) quarterly newsletter is now available. This edition focuses on implementation and features stories about how NIOSH and our partners are turning research into practice.
  • Register today for a free webinar on Tuesday, April 11, at 1 p.m. (ET). Keeping temporary workers safe can present unique challenges, as host employers and staffing companies are jointly responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy working environment. During this webinar, experts will share how host employers can address these challenges. Free continuing education is available.
  • The NIOSH TWH Program is seeking to hire an intern to help with multiple research project this spring or summer. The selected participant will be introduced to NIOSH TWH research projects at different stages of the knowledge generation continuum. The application deadline is May 3 at 3 p.m. (ET). Learn more about how to apply.

Call for Papers: Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is accepting papers on a special issue devoted to the exploration of the future of work and occupational safety and health. Submissions are invited from any specialty or subject matter area to help elucidate the challenges and opportunities the future of work will bring to the practice of OSH. To learn more, contact the Office of Research Integration.

Monthly Features

New Communication Products & Reports

FACE Reports

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fact Sheets



PPE Case Notes


Strategic Plan


NIOSH Science Blog

Sign up to have notifications about new NIOSH Science Blogs delivered directly to your inbox! Here are the blogs from last month:

Federal Register Notices

Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health (ABRWH), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The notice was posted on March 8. Comments must be received by April 12. Meetings will be held on April 19 and April 20.

Solicitation for Nominations for Appointment to the Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The notice was posted on March 20. Nominations must be received by April 19.

 Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The notice was posted on March 8. Comments must be received by April 14. The meeting will be held on April 21.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations: Reducing Fatigue Among Taxi Drivers
The notice was posted on March 10. Comments must be received by May 9.


Register Now for the NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Spring Health and Safety Summit
The NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Sector Council will host their annual Health and Safety Summit April 12–13, from 12–4 p.m. (ET) each day. This year’s virtual summit will focus on psychosocial stressors in the oilfield. Presentations will focus on advances in fatigue research, mental health, and substance use in the oilfield, along with NIOSH research and OSHA programmatic updates. To register, please visit the NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Sector Safety Summit webpage.

News from Our Partners

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder Data Inform Policy
Work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) surveillance data, developed by Washington’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program, are being used to guide proposed state legislation aimed at preventing WMSD. The detailed data on injury rates and trends by industry help inform policy discussions where prevention efforts are needed most. If the proposed legislation is passed, the data will be used to focus possible ergonomic standards to those industries with high rates of serious WMSDs.

OSHA to Provide Workplace Safety Training
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will offer a three-day training event August 8–10, in Illinois, for federal workers responsible for their agencies’ workplace safety and health. Attendance is free and open only to federal employees. Registration is required to participate. Contact DOL for assistance.

Call for Panel Proposals and Abstracts
The National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media (NCHCMM) is seeking panel proposals and abstracts for poster presentations for this year’s conference. Submissions are due by April 13. Learn more at NCHCMM or send questions to

Join the National Safety Council for Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Join The National Safety Council (NSC) in observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April and help everyone get home safe. Visit Just Drive to access free resources you can share with coworkers, take the Just Drive pledge to avoid distractions, and get a free template to enact or strengthen a Safe Driving policy in your workplace.

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 nongovernment agencies, such as universities, professional societies, and organizations.