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NIOSH eNews – April 2013


Volume 10 Number 12 April 2013


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

The Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative

Business and civic leaders, the labor community, economists, and educators are talking about the future of the American workforce. As the saying goes, the future begins now. News stories abound about the “skills gap”—in nursing, manufacturing, engineering, computer technology and other fields—that require postsecondary technical education and training. The October 2011 interim report by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness states, “In the 21st century global marketplace, a nation’s economy can only be as strong as the skills of its people.” Experts contend that shortages of “work ready” individuals are undermining U.S. competitiveness, causing employers to shift jobs overseas, and exacerbating wage stagnation here at home.

What does “work ready” mean? No consensus exists on this question, but numerous frameworks have emerged to address it. In general, these frameworks conceive of individuals who possess both “hard skills” (e.g., reading, writing, and arithmetic) and “soft skills” (e.g., flexibility, self-direction, self-regulation, accountability, leadership, and responsibility). However, knowledge for a safe and healthy workplace is the missing life skill in most work-readiness frameworks. This is a significant oversight. Safe and healthy work is essential to human well-being. Individuals who are injured on the job can’t be productive, fully functioning participants in the workforce.

At NIOSH, we believe that now is the time to make workplace safety and health central to the current conversation about the future “ready” workforce. Many career technical, vocational, apprenticeship, on-the-job, hazardous, and other work training programs already teach workplace safety and health competencies. NIOSH can leverage these efforts and be a unifying voice for the promotion of workplace safety and health knowledge and skills for all individuals, in all education and career pathways.

In this vein, NIOSH has launched the Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative with the mission that every person, prior to entering the U.S. workforce or starting a new job, will have the knowledge and skills to contribute to a safe, healthy, and productive workplace. Although employers have the primary responsibility for providing a safe and healthy work environment, this can more easily be achieved when all individuals have basic, protective skills that benefit them on the job now and throughout their lives.

The new initiative targets the delivery of core, work-readiness competencies to young and new workers before they enter the workforce or start a new job. The competencies, which complement the job-specific skills delivered through apprenticeship and career technical or vocational training programs, include the ability to:

  • Recognize the benefits, but also the risks associated with work and their impact.
  • Recognize that work-related injuries and illnesses are predictable and can be prevented.
  • Identify hazards at work.
  • Recognize that preventive measures can be taken to avoid injury and illness.
  • Identify emergencies at work and how to respond to them.
  • Recognize employer and worker rights and responsibilities for safe and healthy work.
  • Access resources at work that help keep individuals safe and healthy.
  • Demonstrate how to communicate effectively with supervisors and others on the job when feeling unsafe.

NIOSH has a productive history of promoting workplace safety and health at the national level through skills training. These efforts include national skill standards in manufacturing and the NIOSH Youth@Work-Talking Safety curriculum, delivered to thousands of career and technical education students in collaboration with the National Career Clusters Initiative. The Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative will build on, and expand, these successful efforts that promote the core competencies outlined above.

The new initiative, which includes worksite wellness and injury prevention programs, aims to prepare all individuals for safe and healthy work. The line between employment and private life has blurred. Hazards at work can lead to risks in personal and community life, and conditions that affect people at home—stress, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and others—spill over into work hours. This results in higher healthcare costs, increased turnover, lower productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism. A recent Harvard study estimates that worksite programs that successfully address health impacts that straddle the tenuous work/life boundary could achieve a $3.00 to $1.00 return on investment. As more businesses explore the social and economic benefits of programs that integrate occupational safety and health protection and health promotion (such as the NIOSH Total Worker Health Program), the Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative will help prepare everyone in the workforce—whether employee or employer—to be successful participants in these programs.

Many experts agree that for U.S. businesses to remain competitive in a global economy, they must promote worker wellness by making critical changes to training, work policy and procedures, and safety cultures and programs.

NIOSH is ready to make sure that every person who is ready to work has the skills to stay safe and healthy—and remain so throughout their lives. We invite you to participate in this new effort by visiting the Safe , Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative topic page, reviewing the information posted there. We look forward to hearing from you.

New One-Stop Shop Web Resource for Fire Fighters

A new NIOSH webpage provides a central location for all NIOSH fire fighter-related resources, projects, and publications occurring and/or produced within NIOSH. This includes the addition of subpages that separate information based on structural and wild land fire fighters and an expanded directory that links to other related NIOSH topic pages (e.g., emergency preparedness and response, chemical safety, and electrical hazards). NIOSH is also starting a second phase of this project asking for feedback from frontline fire fighters and stakeholders in an effort to identify ways to further expand the pages to make them more useful for fire fighters. Visit the webpage at /niosh/firefighters/. To offer comments or feedback on the page please email

NIOSH Public Meeting on Respirator Certification Fees

NIOSH will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule, Amendments to Respirator Certification Fees. The purpose of this meeting is to allow commenters to present information on the potential impacts the proposed rule would have on individual respirator manufacturers, the respirator market, or those industries that rely on NIOSH-approved respiratory equipment. This meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 30, beginning from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT or after the last public commenter has spoken, whichever is earlier. For additional details and registration information, go to /niosh/npptl.

Contractors Wanted: Help NIOSH Advance Research to Protect Workers from Silica

NIOSH is currently testing low-cost solutions for protecting workers from silica exposure when cutting fiber cement siding. You can help us test a dust control and at the same time add to the research that supports and advances the prevention of silicosis. Learn more on the NIOSH Blog at

Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries Involving Fishing Vessel Winches—Southern Shrimp Fleet

The March 8 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report featured an article written by Devin Lucas, Chelsea Woodward and Jennifer Lincoln of the NIOSH Alaska Pacific Office explaining the dangers involved in fishing vessel winches, specifically in the southern shrimp fleet from 2000–2011. The article also lists possible strategies and interventions for preventing death and injury on these vessels. Read more at

Postscript: “The Public’s Health,” a blog on by Michael Yudell, Associate Professor at Drexel University School of Public Health, highlighted the NIOSH article on March 29 and described it as “everyday public health at its best.”

NIOSH Partners with Local Chamber of Commerce on Its 1st First-Ever Workplace Health, Safety Event

In partnership with NIOSH, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce staged its first ever “Workplace Health and Safety Conference” on March 20th. More than 90 employers (mostly small businesses) and 10 exhibitors were in attendance for the half-day event in Erlanger, Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati. Participants heard a keynote presentation about “Transformational Safety Management” from Dan Braun, Vice President at Cintas, Incorporated. In addition, nine other learning sessions were offered on a variety of health and safety topics (two by NIOSH staffers). The NIOSH Small Business Assistance and Outreach Program provided organizational assistance through the Chamber’s Workplace Safety Committee. The NIOSH staff who were involved see local chambers of commerce as potential conduits for getting occupational health and safety information and programming to small businesses. The Northern Kentucky Chamber has over 1,500 members, and 78% are small businesses. Twenty-two percent have fewer than five employees. For more information contact Ray Sinclair, NIOSH Small Business Program Coordinator, or 513.533.8172.

PtD Program Announces Acting Coordinator

NIOSH is pleased to announce that Dr. Pamela Heckel has taken the position as acting coordinator of the Prevention through Design (PtD) Program. Pamela has a doctorate in Civil Engineering and masters of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. Before joining the PtD Program in 2010, she worked for General Electric, The Boeing Company, and the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company. We anticipate that Pamela will continue to move the PtD Initiative forward and with your help continue its impact. For more information on the PtD program go to /niosh/topics/PtD/.

NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health Funding Opportunity

The NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health Research announced a new funding opportunity for refuge alternative concepts for deployment near the working faces of coal mines. /niosh/mining/omshr4u/fundingseekers.html

Washington Post Magazine Column Notes NIOSH Resources on Printer Emissions

The “@Work Advice” column in the March 24 issue of The Washington Post Magazine refers readers to NIOSH resources for questions about exposures to volatile organic compounds emitted by printers.

Contract Opportunity To Update B Reader Training and Certification Program

NIOSH has posted the following contract opportunity on Development of Updated Program to Train and Certify Physicians as Competent to Use the International Labour Office International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses in Digital Format, Solicitation Number: 2013-N-15006. Proposals are due on April 24, 2013.

Healthy People 2020 Progress Review Webinar: Violence Across the Lifespan

Join for a webinar on April 18 at 12:30 p.m. EDT on injury and violence prevention and occupational safety and health. NIOSH Division of Safety Research Director Dawn Castillo will be one of five speakers for this webinar. For more information or to register go to

Provisional Recommended Weight Limits for Maternal Lifting Published

How much can a healthy pregnant worker lift at work? Newly published findings address this question. NIOSH researchers and U.S. Department of Defense colleagues evaluated the scientific evidence linking occupational lifting to maternal and fetal health, suggesting that the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation could be applied judiciously to lifting tasks performed by pregnant workers with only modest adaptations. Based on their findings, the researchers suggested clinical guidelines, defining maximum recommended weight limits for the first and second half of pregnancy according to prescribed task parameters. These findings were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and can be accessed online at

Surgeon General’s Statement for Asbestos Awareness Week

Dr. Regina Benjamin, the U.S. Surgeon General, reminded Americans April 1 to recognize the health hazards of asbestos and follow appropriate precautions in work tasks and other activities that might involve asbestos exposure. Dr. Benjamin’s statement for National Asbestos Awareness Week 2013, April 1-7, which notes NIOSH as a resource for occupational information, can be found at


Monthly Features

FACE Reports

Diesel Mechanic Died In Motor Vehicle Crash Caused By Distracted Driving—Iowa
The use of a cell phone and wireless communications while driving a utility truck; failure in maintaining a safe following distance while adjusting for weather, traffic, road conditions, and visibility; and the lack of an employer policy banning the use of cell phones and in-vehicle technologies while operating a vehicle were some of the factors that led to the death of the diesel mechanic. /niosh/face/stateface/ia/12IA041.html

Tractor with Cable Hitched to Tow Brush Overturned Rearward on Farmer—Iowa
Failure in following the tractor operator’s manual recommendations for proper ballast weight, hitching, and towing techniques when towing heavy loads and the lack of a rollover protective structure on the tractor were some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer. /niosh/face/stateface/ia/03IA022.html

Exit Pit Worker Entangled in Horizontal Directional Drill Back Reamer—Iowa
Failure in having personnel positioned a safe distance from the drill line and reamer before the drill line was energized and rotated, stepping over the rotating drill pipe, the lack of a remote lockout on the horizontal directional drilling equipment, no two-way radio communication between the entry and exit areas, the lack of training to safely operate horizontal directional drilling equipment, and no supervision to ensure proper safety procedures were some of the factors that led to the death of the exit pit worker. /niosh/face/stateface/ia/05IA019.html

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Paramedic Training Instructor Found Dead in His Quarters—Ohio
A 56-year-old male career paramedic training instructor/coordinator was found dead in his quarters in the fire department’s training facility. He was on his regular assignment and was working alone before his collapse. NIOSH investigators recommendations include annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters, annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluations for all fire department members, and a phasing-in of mandatory wellness and fitness programs for fire fighters. /niosh/fire/reports/face201106.html

Career fire captain killed, fire fighter and police officer injured at the scene of a motor vehicle crash—Arkansas
A 56-year-old fire officer was struck and killed by a passing motorist at a motor vehicle crash scene. The captain and engineer responded initially to a report of a single vehicle crash on a state highway. The captain, engineer, and a police officer were standing on the shoulder of the southbound lane of traffic when a van struck them. The NIOSH investigators identified the actions of the van driver, inadequate protection of the highway/roadway work area, inadequate traffic management, and the victims standing in close proximity to moving traffic as contributing factors. /niosh/fire/reports/face201209.html

News from Our Partners

Minnesota Occupational Health Indicators Now Online

The Minnesota Department of Health’s Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program has posted on its web site the Occupational Health Indicators (OHIs) for Minnesota for 2000–2010. The OHIs, developed and pilot-tested by NIOSH and CSTE, represent some 20 measures of the occupational health status of a state’s population that can be used to monitor trends and prioritize prevention efforts. Minnesota is one of 23 states funded by NIOSH to collect and disseminate the OHIs as part of the state-based surveillance program. The OHIs can be found at Six of the OHIs were also included this year in the Minnesota Department of Labor’s Minnesota Workplace Safety Report 2010, available at

New Report on OSH Safety of Immigrants from New Hampshire

A new report is now available on a survey of the occupational health and work safety conditions of immigrants and refugees in New Hampshire. In the survey 366 individuals were asked about their jobs, injuries, illnesses, healthcare related to these injuries and illnesses, and working conditions in general. Twenty-nine respondents reported being injured at work. Sixty two percent of all respondents said they have never heard of workers’ compensation. The report was prepared by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program in the Division of Public Health Services, in partnership with New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and the DHHS Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs. To read the entire report go to or

Multilingual Safer Cleaning and Asthma Fact Sheets Available

Custodians, cleaners, and maintenance workers are the employees most at risk for work-related asthma from exposure to cleaning agents, according to surveillance data gathered by the Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program in the California Department of Public Health (WRAPP). WRAPP has found that work-related asthma among custodians and cleaners is double the rate in the overall workforce. In response to these findings, the Program developed fact sheets in English, Spanish, and Chinese for workers on safer cleaning and asthma. The fact sheets are available at

Upcoming Webinar to Focus on Preventing Falls in Construction

OH&S-Occupational Health & Safety Magazine is hosting a free webinar on the Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction at 11:00 AM ET on Wednesday, April 10. Christine Branche, NIOSH, Jim Maddux, OSHA, and Pete Stafford, CPWR, will be the speakers. To register for the free webinar sponsored by OH&S, go to

MA Occupational Health Surveillance Program Announces Teens Poster Contest Winners

The Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program’s Teens at Work Project recognizes the 11 teen winners and finalists of its 3rd annual Safe Jobs for Youth Poster Contest, co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Youth Employment & Safety Team and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health. View the winning posters online ( and read the English and Spanish posts of the event on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Blog (

American College of Chest Physicians Announces 2013 Conference

The American College of Chest Physicians is sponsoring an Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease Conference 2013 in Toronto, Canada, June 21-23, 2013. Details can be found at Abstracts can be submitted at the following web link through May 15:

Work Injury, Illness Impact and Life Cycle Assessment

A new technical article by Scanlon et al published online March 6 in the journal Environmental Health describes the use of a tool for factoring the impact of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities into life cycle assessment.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logoPotential Employee Exposures during Crime and Death Investigations

HHE investigators evaluated conditions and work practices at a county coroner’s facility. Investigators found that some exposures to formaldehyde in the autopsy suite were above recommended ceiling limits and that the number of air changes per hour in this area was below the recommended level. Airborne drug particles were found in samples taken during drug analyses and were also found on surfaces in the drug evidence laboratory. Investigators recommended that the employer:

  • Increase room exhaust and install downdraft tables in the autopsy suite.
  • Work under a high-efficiency particulate air-filtered hood for procedures that could produce airborne drug particles.
    Employees were encouraged to
    • Open containers of formaldehyde only when needed.
    • Use local exhaust ventilation attachments when doing cranial autopsies.

A link to this report can be found at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.


National Public Safety Sector Agenda and Wildland Fire Fighting

The NORA Public Safety Sector Council has made minor revisions to the National Public Safety Agenda (/nora/comment/agendas/pubsafsub/) in preparation for adding goals related to wildland fire fighting. If you have any comments on the revised agenda or suggestions for wildland fire fighting goals, send an email to

r2p Corner

r2p logo

NIOSH and Signal Peak Energy Renew Partnership

Recently, NIOSH and Signal Peak Energy (SPE) renewed their partnership, extending their agreement to September 2016. This new agreement extends collaborative efforts between SPE and NIOSH that are related to demonstration of instrumentation and tools for mine ventilation design and job hazard management. The gas analysis information obtained from this joint effort has safety benefits to both SPE and the broader underground coal mining community. For more information contact Robert Krog at (412) 386-6729 or

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Proposed Data Collections on Virtual Reality to Train and Assess Emergency Responders

The notice was posted February 25. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

For a full listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices, go to /niosh/fedreg.html.

New NIOSH Communication Products

Call for Abstracts

2013 North American Agricultural Safety Summit


September 25-27, Minneapolis, MN. Call for abstracts. Submission deadline is no later than April 17.

National Conference on Health Communications, Marketing and Media


August 20–22, Atlanta, GA Call for abstracts. Submissions are due no later than April 11.

5th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health


October 28–31, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Call for abstracts. Submissions are due no later than April 30.

Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease Conference


June 21-23, Toronto, Canada Call for abstracts. Submissions are due no later than May 15.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
April 7–9, Galveston, TX

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
April 15–18, Las Vegas, NV

Michigan Safety Conference
April 16–17, Grand Rapids, MI

Fire Department Instructors Conference
April 22–27, Indianapolis, IN

46th American Association of Suicidology Annual Conference
April 24-27, Austin, TX

American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
April 28–May 1, Orlando, FL

IAFC Fire-Rescue Med
May 3–7, Las Vegas, NV

Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), 12th Annual Health Literacy Conference
May 8–10, Irvine, CA

West Virginia Safety Expo
May 8–11, Charleston, WV

Texas Workplace Safety and Health Conference
May 14–15, Austin, TX

APA Work, Stress, and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker HealthTM
May 16–19, Los Angeles, CA

AIHCE 2013—The Art and Science of Professional Judgment
May 18–23, Montreal, Canada

2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Occupational Health and Safety
May 21–22, Beijing, China

6th Occupational and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals Conference
June 2–5, Amsterdam, Netherlands

National Homeland Security Conference
June 4–7, Los Angeles, CA

Association for Professionals in Infection Control, 40th Annual Conference—Look for us! booth 128,
June 7–10, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

NFPA Conference and Accessibility Expo
June 10–13, Chicago, IL

NIOSH Meeting on Respiratory Protection for Healthcare Workers
June 18, Atlanta, GA /niosh/npptl/resources/certpgmspt/meetings/06182013/ HealthcareInvitationLttr06182013.html

New England Fire/Rescue/EMS 2013
June 19–23, Springfield, MA

Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease Conference
June 21-23, Toronto, Canada

American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Safety 2013 Conference
June 24–27, Las Vegas, NV

8th International Conference on Prevention of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
July 8–11, Busan, Korea

IAFC Missouri Valley Annual Conference
July 10–12, Colorado Springs, CO

FBI National Academy Associates Annual Training Conference
July 27–30, Orlando, FL

American Correctional Association Congress
August 9–14, National Harbor, MD

Fraternal Order of Police—Look for us! booth 112!
August 10–13, Cincinnati, OH

2013 National Conference on Health Communications, Marketing and Media
August 7–9, Atlanta, GA

International Association of Firefighters Redmond Symposium—Look for us!!
August 21–25, Denver, CO

29th Annual National VPPPA Conference
August 26–29, Nashville, TN

World Safety Organization
September 9–11, San Diego, CA

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare—Look for us!!
September 11–14, Orlando, FL

National Tactical Officers Association, Kansas City, MO—Look for us! booth 421!
September 22–27, Kansas City, MO

ICOH SC Joint Conference
September 23–26, São Paulo, Brazil

AIHA Fall Conference 2013 Your Source for Scientific, Management & Technical Knowledge
September 28–October 2, Miami, FL

NSC Congress & Expo
September 28–October 4, Chicago, IL

International Association of Chiefs of Police
October 19–23, Philadelphia, PA

61st Annual International Association of Emergency Managers
October 25–30, Reno, NV

5th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health
October 28–31, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

AIHA Asia Pacific OH+EHS Conference + Exhibition
October 29–31, Singapore

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at /niosh/exhibits.html.

Did You Know?

NIOSH researchers reported preliminary findings on March 11 from a new laboratory study in which mice were exposed by inhalation to multi-walled carbon nanotubes. The study was designed to investigate whether these tiny particles have potential to initiate or promote cancer, and is part of NIOSH’s strategic research to support the safe development of nanotechnology. Read more on our NIOSH Blog

Please send your comments and suggestions to us by visiting /niosh/contact/.

This newsletter is published monthly via email by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to inform members of the public health community as well as interested members of the general public of Institute related news, new publications, and updates on existing programs and initiatives.