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NIOSH eNews – August 2012


Volume 10 Number 4 August 2012


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
August eNews 2012

New Health Monitoring and Surveillance Tool For First Responders

Emergency responders have been called to duty over the past decade by an increasing number of natural and man-made disasters, as evidenced by 9/11 in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. As each large-scale disaster occurred, the importance of how best to ensure the safety and health of professional and volunteer emergency responders before, during and after a disaster has grown. While some guidance had been developed about how best to prepare response workers both before and during deployment, less attention had been placed on assessing responders’ health after they complete their deployment.

Post-deployment assessment is important because long-term health effects on responders following disasters may not be readily apparent for many years, and reconstruction of exposure information needed for a long-term health monitoring and surveillance program can be difficult. This information includes where each responder was, doing what job tasks, for what length of time, what they were exposed to, as well as other important pieces of information. The Government Accountability Office and others have called for this information to be collected more prospectively throughout an incident. This information can be used both during the incident to mitigate acute safety and health concerns as well as provide the critical information needed to set up long-term health monitoring and surveillance systems quickly and effectively.

With this in mind, in 2008 NIOSH convened an multidisciplinary public health workgroup to address these concerns. The Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) system was developed in 2011 by this workgroup. It includes both written guidance and epidemiology/surveillance tools as examples of current best practices for protecting response, remediation, and recovery workers and volunteers.

The system is described in a new federal publication, “Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance: Technical Assistance Document,” which was recently published by the National Response Team, an organization of 15 Federal departments and agencies, including NIOSH, responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response.

The ERHMS system can be applied in both smaller, localized incidents, as well as larger incidents. Importantly it provides guidance to help protect emergency responders before, during, and after an incident. The document provides tools and resources for response organizations that will help in ensuring the health and safety for responders within each phase of the incident and, will assist organizations in monitoring the health of responders in the post-incident phase.

The next step in the development of this system has been to implement and field-test the principles and components of ERHMS in both real-world emergency response events, practice exercises, and training venues. NIOSH successfully implemented some of the components of ERHMS in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 such as rostering, injury and illness surveillance, and Health Hazard Evaluations. We more fully demonstrated an implemented of ERHMS in a large scale interagency training exercise conducted last year, which also tested the utility of hand-held electronic data collection techniques.

NIOSH and other stakeholders among the centers and institutes of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently seeking funding to conduct advance training seminars for public health agencies to learn more about ERHMS and other CDC-developed disaster response resources in order to better translate this research into practice.

The full ERHMS document as well as a summary document is available on the NIOSH website /niosh/topics/erhms/ or on the NRT website at For a comprehensive list of emergency response resources from NIOSH please go to /niosh/topics/emergency.html.

Safety Alert on SCBA Facepiece Lenses

On July 2, 2012, the National Fire Protection Association issued a safety alert that included a recommendation that fire departments, fire academies, and emergency service organizations inspect all self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lenses before and after each use. Any SCBA facepiece lens found to have cracks, crazing, bubbling, deformation, discoloring, gaps, or holes should be immediately removed from service and a replacement issued. The alert came after several NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality investigations and additional research found SCBA facepiece lenses may undergo thermal degradation when exposed to intense heat. The full alert and recommendations can be found at

Follow Total Worker Health™

Keep up with ground-breaking research, translation, and best practices of integrative approaches to protecting and promoting health in the workplace:

MSHA Bulletin Draws on NIOSH Research

Following the 2007 Crandall Canyon mine disaster, which resulted in nine deaths and six injuries, Congress directed NIOSH to conduct a study, published in 2010, on the extraction of coal pillars in mines deep underground. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published a bulletin on July 11, 2012, that recognized the 2010 NIOSH study and reaffirmed many of its safety recommendations, including the following:

  • At depths exceeding 1,000 feet, retreat mining should not be conducted without properly designed barrier pillars.
  • At depths exceeding 1,000 feet, pillar splitting should not be conducted on the pillar line.
  • At depths exceeding 2,000 feet, pillar recovery should not be conducted.

The MSHA bulletin can be found at NIOSH’s 2010 study is available at /niosh/mining/pubs/pubreference/outputid3470.htm.

NIOSH Thanks Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Program Review Panel

NIOSH on July 5 thanked an expert panel and its chair for their review of the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AgFF) Sector research program. The panel evaluated the current status of the AgFF Sector Program, which NIOSH conducts under partnerships with diverse stakeholders under the National Occupational Research Agenda. The review cited progress achieved by the program since an earlier review in 2007. /niosh/updates/upd-07-05-12.html

NIOSH Begins Certifying Wildfire Respirators

Under the terms of a new agreement between NIOSH and the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), both organizations began coordinating programs to certify wildland fire-fighting respirators. All respirator applications for certification must be submitted concurrently to NIOSH and SEI and include a completed application package for each wildland respirator model for which approval is requested. /niosh/npptl/resources/pressrel/letters/Manufacturers/lttr-07102012.html?s_cid=3ni7d2TW1207171200.

NIOSH Study Finds Benefits of Paid Sick Leave

A NIOSH study published online on July 19 by the American Journal of Public Health found that workers with access to paid sick leave were almost 30% less likely to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than workers without access to paid sick leave. The study results suggest that paid sick leave makes a greater difference in occupations and sectors with a high risk of injury, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare and social assistance. Paid sick leave can also decrease other risks and costs related to sick workers, such as spread of contagious diseases to coworkers. Despite the potential benefits for employers offering paid sick leave, 43% of American private sector workers reported not having access to this benefit during the study period.

NIOSH and OSHA Evaluate Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Cleanup

An article published online July 18 in PloS Currents Disasters details an evaluation of the efforts made to protect workers during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response. The article, written by NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard and Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels, identifies the factors that contributed to the successful efforts to protect workers as well provides recommendations for future responses.

NIOSH Pushes for Inclusion of Occupation Among Key Health Measures

Thanks to the efforts of NIOSH researchers Sherry Baron, Eileen Storey, Marie Haring Sweeney, Peggy Filios, Kerry Souza, Sue Nowlin, John Myers, and Genny Luensman, occupation and industry have been added to the list of key measures that the National Committee of Vital Health Statistics (NCVHS) is recommending the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services use to assess socioeconomic status in its surveys. The NCVHS recommendation includes occupation and industry alongside income, education, and family size as the key components necessary for the measurement of socioeconomic status and its relationship to health. The NCVHS recommendation letter can be viewed at

Call for Nominations: 2013 Safe-in-Sound Awards™

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards. ™ The awards are given by NIOSH in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association to recognize excellence in hearing loss prevention. The deadline for self-nominations is September 3. Additional information is available at

NIOSH Congratulates….

Eun Gyung Lee, Larry Lee, and Martin Harper, AIHA Poster Award Winners

During the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s summer conference, these researchers from the NIOSH Health Effects Laboratory Division received awards for the Best Poster of the Sampling and Laboratory Analysis Session and second best overall Poster of the Conference for their poster, “Pump Pulsation at the Inlet of Respirable Cyclones.”

Kevin Ashley, ASTM Award

The ASTM International Committee D22 on Air Quality presented Moyer D. Thomas Award to NIOSH researcher Kevin Ashley for his contributions to standardization of sampling and analysis of atmospheres.

NIOSH Cincinnati Site and Staff

In July, the NIOSH Taft North facility in Cincinnati was awarded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s OSHA Star Voluntary Protection Program status. This recognition indicates that OSHA has determined Taft North to have an “exemplary occupational safety and health protection program.”

NIOSH 2012 Diversity Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 NIOSH Director’s Diversity Award, presented by the NIOSH Director, and the 2012 NIOSH Diversity Award, presented by the NIOSH Diversity Steering Council:

  • NIOSH Director’s Diversity Award winners are the Cincinnati Diversity Month Team and Cynthia Powell, chair of the NIOSH Pittsburgh Diversity Council. These awards are given by the director of NIOSH to persons or groups who bring high-impact and/or long-lasting contributions that strongly advance our diversity efforts at NIOSH.
  • NIOSH Diversity Award Winners are Sherry Baron, Marie de Piero, Matthew Groenewold, Miguel Reyes, Andrea Steege, and Cindee Yancey. These awards are given by the 2012 NIOSH Diversity Steering Council to persons or groups that make substantial contributions to diversity efforts within NIOSH or for our constituents.

News from Our Partners

Limiting Worker Exposures to Vermiculite Insulation

The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Program recently published information for workers who the department believes may be exposed to asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation during renovation activities. This information can be found at

Green Chemistry Symposium Hosted in Oregon

The Oregon Public Health Division, in collaboration with the Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology at Oregon Health and Science University, hosted the Green Chemistry, Safer Alternatives and Work Symposium in June in Portland, OR. Keynote speakers provided practical steps to use safer chemical alternatives to improve occupational and public health and detailed steps that businesses can take to discourage the use of hazardous materials in their supply chains. These and the remaining presentations made a compelling case for adopting safer chemical alternatives, the hosts said. Most of the presentations will be made available in August at

Free “Drive Safely Work Week” Materials Available

October 1–5 is Drive Safely Work Week 2012, sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. This year’s theme is “Back to Basics—Your Keys to Safe Driving.” The campaign will focus on issues important for building and maintaining a safe-driving foundation, such as always buckling up, being well-rested and clear-headed, and eliminating distractions. The campaign also includes tips and activities to assist in safe parking, backing up, and ways to avoid rear-end collisions—one of the most common types of crashes. The campaign tool kit will be available for free download in early August at

Join Our Partners AIHA and NSC This Fall

Total Worker Health™ Workshop from Harvard Center of Excellence

Need strategic solutions for integrating wellness and occupational safety and health in the workplace? Join the Harvard School of Public Health Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing for an innovative training session in Boston, MA, from September 17–20. The program will address the need to integrate occupational health and safety policies into a comprehensive program that enhances the overall health and wellbeing of the workforce and reduces work-related injuries and illnesses.

Reviewers Wanted for 2013 Work, Stress, and Health Conference

The American Psychological Association is accepting volunteers to serve as reviewers for the 10th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health—Work, Stress, and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health™ that will be held May 16–19, 2013.

NEW CIH Online Review Courses

The Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center recently launched a series of online courses for practicing industrial hygienists studying for the Certified Industrial Hygiene Exam and for safety professionals seeking credits through the American Board of Industrial Hygiene and/or the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Visit for more information and to register. For more information on worker safety and health and to learn about continuing education opportunities, follow the MAPERC on Twitter @MAP_ERC.

CMEs Available for Occupational and Environmental Neurological Disease Factors Course

The University of California, San Francisco is offering a course on occupational and environmental factors in neurological disease and occupational and environmental medicine Update, October 31–November 3 at the Holiday Inn, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA. CMEs are available to participants. To register or for more information go to

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logo Did you know? The HHE Program has a Facebook page!

Like us on Facebook at With a simple click you can check out photos from our investigations, read newly released final reports, respond to our questions, and meet our staff.

New Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Reports Now Available

Municipal Lead Custodian Dies in Fall from Mobile Scaffolding

Contributing factors that led to the death of the custodian included failure to ensure scaffolding was erected correctly, the lack of a buddy system, failure to follow proper practices and procedures, and the lack of a safety program and training on scaffolding and ladders. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/11MA008.html

Carpenter Fell from the Roof of a Single Family Home under Construction

Contributing factors that led to the death of the carpenter included the lack of fall protection, the use of roof brackets that were not equipped with a locking mechanism, and the lack of a safety and health program that addressed fall protection, hazard recognition, and avoidance of unsafe conditions. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/10MA036.html

Mechanic Dies from Thermal Burns when the Gasoline He was Pouring into a Vehicle Ignited

Contributing factors that led to the death of the automotive mechanic included failure in eliminating sources of ignition when working with flammable liquids, the use of a bucket to store and pour gasoline without an automatic closing cap and flame arrester on the container, and the type of drop light used and its positioning. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/11CA006.html

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Fire Fighter Dies after Falling From Aerial Ladder during Training—Florida

Factors that contributed to the death of the career fire fighter include failure to fully develop standard operating procedures and implement measures to protect training participants from inadvertent falls, the safe and proper use of an aerial apparatus, a fire apparatus being used as part of an unstructured training evolution, and a possible unknown medical problem. /niosh/fire/reports/face201201.html.

Fire Fighter Dies, another Injured Following Structure Collapse at a Triple Decker Residential Fire—Massachusetts

Factors that contributed to the death of the career fire fighter include fire burning more than 30 minutes before being brought under control, the structure reacting to fire conditions in an unexpected manner, balloon-frame wood structure in a deteriorated condition, the instability of a cellar wall and surrounding soil, and structural deficiencies not readily apparent. /niosh/fire/reports/face201130.html.

Fire Fighter/Paramedic Dies from Injuries Following a Ceiling Collapse—California

Factors that contributed to the death of the career fire fighter include failure to install and construct an interior gas-burning fireplace in accordance with applicable building and fire codes, a unique ceiling with a large concealed space that allowed a fire to burn undetected for an unknown time, degraded ceiling support members, a sprinkler system unable to control the fire, difficulty applying water to the fire, and an unexpected ceiling collapse. /niosh/fire/reports/face201105.html.

Lieutenant Suffers On Duty Cardiac Death at a Regional Dispatch Center—Ohio

Factors that contributed to the death of the fire fighter include the lack of a comprehensive fire fighter wellness fitness program, lack of an effective annual medical evaluation program, and underlying medical conditions. /niosh/fire/reports/face201107.html.

Fire Fighter Suffers Cardiac Death after Responding to a Structure Fire—New York

Factors that contributed to the death of the fire fighter include the lack of exercise stress tests for fire fighters at risk for sudden cardiac events, the lack of an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation, and the lack of a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program. /niosh/fire/reports/face201127.html.


Two New Publications on Cleaning Chemicals

NIOSH and OSHA recently released two new publications on the safe use of cleaning chemicals. A poster, Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your Health (, focuses primarily on informing employees. An info sheet, Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals (/niosh/docs/2012-126/pdfs/2012-126.pdf), provides guidance primarily to employers. Both were developed by the NORA Services Sector Council and address chemical safety topics, such as the use of green cleaners and the importance of worker training. For more information, contact David Utterback (

r2p Corner

r2p logo New NIOSH Technology in Oil and Gas

Installing the NIOSH mini baghouse retrofit assembly on a sand mover

Installing the NIOSH mini baghouse retrofit assembly on a sand mover

Recently, NIOSH and EnCana Oil and Gas signed an agreement to partner and conduct a field evaluation of the NIOSH-developed mini baghouse retrofit assembly. The assembly is a patent-pending exhaust ventilation engineering control system, designed to contain and capture silica dust released during sand mover refilling. For more information, contact Eric Esswein at (303) 236-5946 or

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

Making the Case for Paid Sick Leave

Does it make economic sense for employers to offer or expand paid sick leave benefits to their employees? Read more at

Safer and Healthier at Any Age: Strategies for an Aging Workforce

We’d like to hear your challenges and experiences related to aging in your workplace. What strategies and solutions have worked for you? Read more

Wildland Fire Fighting Safety and Health

Thousands of federal workers and volunteers risk their lives every year suppressing wildfires in the United States. Read more about the dangers of wildland fire fighting and NIOSH’s health and safety recommendations at

Federal Register Notices

Request for Information: Collection and Use of Patient Work Information in the Clinical Setting.

NIOSH is requesting public comments on its recommendation to include “work information” in patients’ electronic health records. Deadline for comments is August 27.

New Communication Products

Story of Impact on the NIOSH ABELS Program
The NIOSH Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program contributes to a decline in national blood lead prevalence rates. ABLES is the only program conducting nationwide adult lead exposure surveillance and has provided the occupational safety and health community with essential information for setting priorities for research and intervention. Read more on this story of impact at /niosh/docs/2012-164/#8.

All-terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety at Work Fact Sheet
Learn about the hazards associated with ATVs and how to operate them safely. /niosh/docs/2012-167/

NIOSH/OSHA Release Info on Cleaning Chemicals
Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-126
Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your Health DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-125

New Documents Available in Spanish

New NIOSH Safety and Health Topic Pages

Call for Proposals and Presentations

Total Worker Health Symposium
Call for poster or oral presentations. Deadline for submission is August 31. Email proposals to

Occupational and Environmental Factors in Neurological Disease
Call for Posters. Submission deadline is August 31.

American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce) 2013
Call for presentation proposals. Submission deadline is September 28.

23nd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
Call for Art & Science Presentation and Activity Session proposals. Submission deadline is September 21.
Call for Peer Presentations. Submissions accepted August 24 through February 15.

Work, Stress and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health™
Call for proposals. Submission deadline is October 1.

2013 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
Call for presentation proposals. Submission deadline is October 5.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

2012 NCHS National Conference on Health Statistics
August 6–8, Washington, DC

6th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
August 7–9, Atlanta, GA

NIOSH Prevention Through Design Program: Safe Nano Design Workshop
August 14–16, Albany, NY

International Safety Equipment Association Roundtable on Confined Space Safety
August 21, Arlington, VA

Western States Occupational Network (WestON) Annual Meeting
September 20–21, Denver, CO

2nd Healthier Federal Workers Symposium
September 18–21, Washington, DC

International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP), A Global View on Respiratory Protection
September 23–27, Boston, MA

National Safety Congress & Expo—Celebration of the Century
October 20–25 in Orlando, FL

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting
October 27–31, San Francisco, CA

American Industrial Hygiene Association Fall Conference
October 27–31, San Antonio, TX

Isocyanates and Health: Past, Present, and Future
November 1–2, Bethesda, MD

23nd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
March 18–22, 2013, Hilton Head, South Carolina

2013 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
April 7–9, 2013. Galveston, TX

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

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

Did you know?

Disease of the Week? There is an App for That!

The CDC now has an iPad app available at no charge through the Apple iTunes Store. The app delivers content from the CDC website. Its newest feature is the “Disease of the Week.” Each week a push notification is released with a teaser inviting users to learn more about the disease. Disease topics feature key facts, prevention tips, images, video, and an interactive quiz. For more information on the CDC iPad app, visit the CDC Web site at

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.