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NIOSH eNews – November 2012


Volume 10 Number 7 November 2012


From the Director’s Desk

Jeffery L. Kohler, Ph.D.
Director, NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health Research
Guest Columnist

NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations, Awards, and the Web

In mining, technology should not be a one-time “fix” but rather an evolving and continuously improving process of applying new and better technologies to solve problems. These include technologies for preventing injuries and deaths in the first place. They also include new technologies that improve miners’ chances for survival in the event of a disaster.

The Sago Mine disaster in 2006 illuminated the critical role that technology needs to play as an enabler of miner escape and rescue in a post-accident environment. The ensuing discussions, Congressional hearings, and the National Mining Association’s (NMA) Mine Safety Technology and Training Commission revealed inadequacies in the development and adoption of technologies that could improve mine safety, especially in the areas of emergency communications and tracking, refuge alternatives, and oxygen supply. The reasons for these inadequacies are many, but a significant barrier to innovation is the “small market problem”—i.e. the mining market is so small that it is difficult for a manufacturer to recover the costs for research and development, or sometimes, even the costs associated with commercializing a new technology.

Congress addressed this need for new and continuously improving technologies in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (MINER Act) of 2006. In the MINER Act, NIOSH’s Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) was charged with facilitating the development of new technologies and the adaptation of existing technologies used in other sectors to improve mine safety and health. NIOSH is meeting this challenge in partnership with the mining industry, labor unions, manufacturers, the international mining community, and other Federal agencies. As a result, today our nation’s mines are populated with a suite of post-accident communications and tracking technologies, many of which were developed through the NIOSH programs envisioned by the MINER Act. Moreover, the vision of continuous improvement through technology innovation is being advanced through NIOSH’s ongoing contract research program as well as its intramural research projects.

To recognize milestones in the application of new safety technologies, which in turn will encourage further advancements in research and development, NIOSH has created the new Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award. The new award showcases mines and companies that have made an extraordinary effort, above and beyond mandatory requirements, to apply technology in ways that will improve mine worker safety and health. The goal of the award is to promote the identification, adoption, and dissemination of safety and health technologies throughout the mining industry.

The inaugural awards were presented on September 25, 2012, during MINExpo at the ceremony for the Sentinels of Safety Awards, sponsored by the NMA. The Sentinels of Safety awards, initiated in 1925, are given annually to the nation’s safest mines with a minimum of 4,000 injury-free hours. The new Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award now joins the Sentinels of Safety Awards as one of the ways that our nation recognizes and honors mine safety. Freeport McMoRan Americas, Lockheed Martin and CONSOL Energy were given the institute’s inaugural award for Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations.

In granting the first Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award, OMSHR joined with the National Mining Association. For future awards, OMSHR will seek to partner with the Industrial Minerals Association–North America to recognize similar innovation in the industrial minerals sector, and with the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association for innovation in that sector.

More Awards

Not only is NIOSH creating awards for safety innovations, we are also receiving awards. In October, NIOSH was recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services’ HHSinnovates Program for the Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM). The NIOSH-developed Coal Dust Explosibility Meter is a handheld device that determines the explosibility of rock and coal dust mixtures in real time, a significant advancement in the ability of coal miners and mine operators to prevent coal dust explosions. A recently published NIOSH Information Circular, “Coal Dust Explosibility Meter Evaluation and Recommendations for Application,” details an investigation of the CDEM’s ability to accurately predict the explosibility of coal and rock dust mixtures in underground mines. The conclusions strongly support the use of the CDEM.

The CDEM was named the “People’s Choice” Award winner in the program, based on a two-stage process: finalists were selected by employees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and from those finalists, a winner was chosen through voting by the public. In addition, the CDEM was selected by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as one of three “Secretary’s Top Picks.”

To learn more about OMSHR’s technology innovations awards and our own awards from HHS, OMSHR’s contracts and grants program, and our research products and services, please visit our new website, which launched Sept 24 in conjunction with the opening of MINExpo, one of the largest mining shows in the world.

New Web Site

For many years, the OMSHR website served as an important tool for safety and health experts whose work making mining safer relied on OMSHR research to guide their efforts. With an extensive online library of past research documents, this vast source of safety and health information has been vital to research efforts across our country. Now, NIOSH is taking a new step forward to bring its mining research to an even larger audience.

The new mining website focuses on bringing web users the latest in mine safety and health research, topical information concerning safety and health, videos detailing research projects, and feature stories on current innovations.

In addition to videos, topical features, and timely news, the website features new tools to help you find the information you want. Improved search functions, web pages designed just for you, and a new feature coming soon called MINE FIND (an interactive search tool), can help you locate exactly the information you need.

We encourage you to visit the site at Comments and suggestions are more than welcome and you can reach us via email at

Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey Now Online

NIOSH announces the release of e-tables to make data publically accessible on the Internet from the NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey (CAIS). CAIS is a critical source of national injury data for youths, aged < 20 years, on farms in the United States. These e-tables present CAIS data for the years 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2009 and Minority Farm Operator Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey (M-CAIS) data for the years 2000, 2003, and 2008. NIOSH plans to add additional years of CAIS and M-CAIS data when they become available. Learn more at

Construction and Falls Campaign Receives Public Relations Society Award

In September NIOSH and partners The Hannon Group and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training received the Thoth Award for Research/Evaluation from the Public Relations Society of America—National Capital Chapter for the National Construction Falls Campaign. For more information on the award go to or on the campaign go to /niosh/construction/stopfalls.html.

October TWH Newsletter Available

Keep up with Total Worker Health™ (TWH). The October 2012 newsletter from the NIOSH TWH program is now available at

NIOSH Congratulates….

Dr. Hongwei Hsiao, NIOSH Division of Safety Research

Dr. Hsiao received the 2012 Human Factors Prize for Excellence in Human Factors and Ergonomics Research from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society for his paper “Anthropometric Procedures for Protective Equipment Sizing and Design.” The paper describes a series of studies that resulted in four approaches to the application of anthropometrics (human body measurement) to improve tractor roll-over protective structures, respirator test panels, fire truck cabs, and fall-arrest harnesses. The paper will be published in the December issue of the Human Factors ( journal. More information on the award is available at

CDEM Project Receives HHS Honor

The NIOSH Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM) project team members received the “People’s Choice Award” and “HHSinnovates Top Pick Award” during the HHSinnovates Program Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., last month. The HHSinnovates program was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of its efforts to celebrate innovation by its employees. Project contributors include Marcia Harris, Cindy Hollerich, Mike Sapko, Floyd Varley, Eric Weiss, Linda Chasko, Greg Green, and Chi-Keung Man. For more information about the award-winning technology visit or /niosh/mining/features/cdem.html.

CAPT Alan Echt, NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology

CAPT Alan Echt has been named the 2012 winner of the Robert Brutsche Award, the Commissioned Officer Association’s (COA) highest member honor. CAPT Echt was recognized for outstanding leadership in federal and state legislative advocacy on behalf of United States Public Health Service (PHS) officers. He is the 18th winner of the award, which honors a PHS officer and COA member “for exceptional service to the Commissioned Officers Association of the United States Public Health Service.”

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

Semi Tractor-Trailer Driver Dies in Median Crossover Crash; 10 Others Die, Kentucky

Failure in establishing and implementing a training program that includes recognition of driver distraction and fatigue, allowing cell phone use while operating a commercial vehicle, and not having adequate rest before operating a commercial vehicle were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the truck driver. /niosh/face/stateface/KY/10KY008.html

Steel Worker Falls from Highway Bridge and Dies, Kentucky

The lack of a safety analysis, not using personal fall arrest systems correctly, not having the appropriate safety and health programs and training, and the lack of drug testing policies were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the steel worker. /niosh/face/stateface/KY/10KY043.html

Semi Truck Driver Falls Asleep While Driving, Crashes and Dies, Kentucky

Failure in not being trained to recognize the signs of fatigue and drowsiness and when to seek appropriate rest and the lack of safety programs that address sleepiness and fatigue were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the truck driver. /niosh/face/stateface/KY/11KY009.html

A Roofing Supervisor Dies When He Falls Though a Skylight, California

The lack of fall protection measures, such as guarding, personal fall protection equipment, or a safety watch while working in close proximity to an unguarded skylight, were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the roofing supervisor. /niosh/face/stateface/CA/11CA004.html

A House Painter Dies When He Falls Through a Roof Opening, California

Failure to guard roof openings, the lack of employee training, and the absence of a job hazard assessment to determine the potential risk factors that may have been encountered while working on a roof were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the painter. /niosh/face/stateface/CA/11CA005.html

A Maintenance Worker Dies from Exposure to Dichloromethane, California

The use of a paint stripper containing methylene chloride in an enclosed workspace with poor ventilation and the lack of implementation of a hazard communication program were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the maintenance worker. /niosh/face/stateface/CA/12CA002.html

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Instructor-in-charge Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death During Live Fire Training, Pennsylvania

A 38-year-old male volunteer lieutenant was serving as the instructor-in-charge during live fire training. He was inside the specially designed burn building, attending the fires, when his low-air alarm sounded and he exited the building. After changing his air cylinder, he began debriefing the fire department chief when he suddenly lost consciousness. Emergency care was initiated immediately and advanced life support was provided while en route to the hospital. The lieutenant never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital approximately 40 minutes after losing consciousness. NIOSH investigators concluded that given the underlying heart abnormalities found at autopsy, the moderate-to-heavy physical exertion during the training most likely triggered a sudden cardiac event. /niosh/fire/reports/face201128.html

Career Captain Injured in Aerial Ladder Collapse, Pennsylvania

A career fire captain was injured when the aerial ladder that he was climbing collapsed at the scene of a commercial structure fire. NIOSH investigators concluded that the lack of fire department standard operating procedures for aerial apparatus operations, the positioning of the aerial apparatus for fireground operations, the limited performance capabilities of the aerial apparatus, and the overloaded aerial ladder contributed to the injuries. /niosh/fire/reports/face201204.html

Career Lieutenant Dies After Being Trapped in the Attic After Falling Through a Roof While Conducting Ventilation, Texas

A 41-year-old career lieutenant died after falling through a roof and being trapped in an attic. The lieutenant was part of a two-man crew attempting to perform vertical ventilation of a two-story, multifamily apartment complex. He was wearing his self-contained breathing apparatus but was not wearing his facepiece and was overcome by the products of combustion. He was rescued by crews operating at the scene and transported to a hospital where he died from his injuries. NIOSH investigators concluded that inadequate hazard assessment/recognition, structural roof component-damage, improper personal protective equipment use, and the lack of an automatic sprinkler system within the building were contributing factors to this fatality. /niosh/fire/reports/face201120.html

Fire fighter Suffers Fatal Heart Attack Responding to Structure Fire, North Carolina

A 58-year-old volunteer fire fighter responded to a structure fire by driving an engine/tanker to the fire scene. While en route, he developed severe chest pain. Upon arrival at the fire scene, he reported for evaluation by a paramedic who arranged ambulance transport. During transport, an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) was diagnosed, and upon arrival at the hospital an emergency cardiac catheterization was performed. During the cardiac catheterization he suffered a cardiac arrest and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. The NIOSH investigators concluded the physiologic demands associated with the emergency response to a structure fire probably triggered the fire fighter’s heart attack and subsequent cardiac death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201027.html

News from Our Partners

Digital Stories Aim to Prevent Fatal Incidents from Reoccurring

Antonio Barajas, a 33-year-old tree trimmer, died at work when he was thrown against a wood chipper. Hans Petersen, a 30-year-old solar panel installer, died on the job when he fell off an apartment building roof. Both tragedies, along with recommendations on preventing similar incidents from occurring, are the subject of award-winning “digital stories” featured on a new California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program web page. The stories are best used as educational triggers that can kick off a worker training session and facilitate discussion, the California FACE Program suggests.

Notably, “Preventing falls in the solar industry,” ( produced by FACE staff member Laura Styles, recently won an American Public Health Association, Occupational Health Section, Digital Technology Award.

Surveillance of Work-related Concussions Using Two Datasets

A new report from Dr. Svetla Slavova et al., at the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, provides surveillance results as part of a comprehensive surveillance study on concussions. Highlights from the report include the following.

  • In 2009, Kentucky workers’ compensation was billed approximately $1.02 million for work-related concussion emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations by Kentucky workers in Kentucky acute-care hospitals.
  • From 2008–2009 in Kentucky, there were 289 emergency department visits for work-related concussions, predominately due to struck-by/against injuries (45%), falls (32%), and motor vehicle collisions (15%); most were unintentional injuries (95%) and 5% were due to assaults.
  • From 2000–2009, there were 245 work-related concussions that resulted in hospitalizations, almost all due to unintentional injuries (99%). The external cause of work-related concussion hospitalizations was due to motor vehicle collisions (40%), falls (35%), and struck-by/against injuries (11%).

For more information or to request the full report published in the Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association, contact Dr. Slavova at 859-323-7873.

Develop a Tool to Inform Young Workers about Hazards- DOL Challenges

The U.S. Department of Labor challenges developers, students, and anyone else with a little tech savvy and creativity to enter the Workplace Safety and Health Challenge. The goal is to design a tool that demonstrates the importance of recognizing and preventing hazards by helping young people understand their rights in the workplace. Submissions may be designed for Internet browsers, smartphones, feature phones, and social media platforms or as native Windows or Macintosh applications. The deadline is Nov. 30.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logo Evaluation of Air Sampling Methods for Abrasive Blasting

HHE Program investigators compared methods for collecting personal breathing zone air samples for particulates during abrasive blasting. Abrasive blasting is the cleaning or finishing of surfaces by the use of an abrasive carried in a strong current of air. Investigators found that all three sampling methods collected too much particulate. This overloading caused frequent sampling pump failures. The harsh and dusty abrasive blasting environment also caused sampling pumps to disconnect and turn off.

Investigators concluded that

  • Sampling methods that can withstand this harsh environment have not yet been developed
  • New sampling methods need to be developed in order to accurately measure employees’ exposures during abrasive blasting operations

Evaluation of Health Effects of a Chlorine Gas Release in a Poultry Processing Plant

HHE Program investigators evaluated an unintentional chlorine gas release at a poultry processing plant. Three employees had reactive airway dysfunction syndrome six months after the event and 106 (19%) had symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder four months after the event. Investigators determined that inadequate labeling and the lack of English literacy contributed to this incident. Investigators recommended that managers:

  • Find unique fittings to prevent connections from the filling station to containers that should not be filled with sodium hypochlorite
  • Keep incompatible chemicals in different sized or colored barrels
  • Properly label containers in English, Spanish, and Marshallese at a reading level that all employees can understand
  • Teach employees about chemical hazards

Links to these reports can be found at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.


NORA Announces Public Meeting

The next semi-annual National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) public meeting, Partnerships to Advance the National Occupational Research Agenda, will be held January 30 in Washington, D.C. Attendees can also participate by video conference and online. Individuals and national organizations will learn about and contribute to the progress of NORA. For more information, contact

r2p Corner

r2p logo NIOSH/International Safety Equipment Association Renew Partnership

In September, NIOSH and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) signed a new partnership agreement renewing their long-time collaboration. NIOSH and ISEA recognize the benefits of a collaborative partnership to improve personal protection requirements and equipment for workers. The collaboration addresses personal protective issues for all workers, including emergency responders engaged in potential or actual responses to incidents of national significance. For more information, contact Maryann D’Alessandro at (412) 386-6111 or

Buy Quiet Process: Advocacy, Policy, Research %26amp; Purchase

NIOSH Buy-Quiet Web Tool

NIOSH recently launched its Buy-Quiet Web tool to help construction and manufacturing organizations in their implementation of a Buy-Quiet program. The tool assists in ensuring the best available noise control technologies are considered when purchasing new equipment, and it’s available to the public. Register now at to begin using this tool. It provides the necessary platform for making, documenting, tracking, and promoting your organization’s Buy-Quiet purchases, including capturing your machine and equipment inventory, setting up policy documentation, and promoting your Buy-Quiet program with customers and suppliers. For questions or additional information, please contact Chuck Hayden at or 513-533-8152.

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

Federal Register Notices

Exposure Assessment and Epidemiological Study of U.S. Workers Exposed to Carbon Nanotubes and Carbon Nanofibers
Published 9/20/12. Written comments should be received within 60 days

Human Systems Integration Design Guidelines (MineFirst) for Improved Mine Worker Safety
Published 9/24/12. 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 Communication Products

Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors
Now available in Spanish!

Sector Morbidity and Disability Information Now Available
Morbidity and disability among workers 18 years and older 1997-2007 information is available from NIOSH for the following sectors:

Call for Abstracts, Proposals and Presentations

6th Occupational and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals Conference (OEESC)
June 2–5, 2013, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Call for abstracts. Submissions deadline is December 31, 2012.

23nd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
March 18–22, 2013, Hilton Head Island, SC
Call for peer presentations. Submissions deadline is February 15, 2013.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Personal Protective Equipment Workshop
November 27–30, Hollywood, FL

Total Worker Health Symposium
November 29–30, Coralville, IA

Oil & Gas Safety Conference 2012 (OSHA Exploration & Production)
December 4–5, Dallas, TX

Digital Health Communication Extravaganza 2013 (DHCX)
February 20–22, 2013, Orlando, FL

23rd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
March 18–22, 2013, Hilton Head, SC

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

Association of Perioperative Nurses
March 2–7, 2013, San Diego, CA

Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization Fire PPE Symposium
March 4–6, 2013, Raleigh, NC

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

IAFC Wildland Urban Interface 2013
March 19–21, 2013, Reno, NV

Fire Department Instructors Conference
April 22–27, 2013, Indianapolis, IN

IAFC Fire-Rescue Med
May 4–8, 2013, Las Vegas, NV

Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), 12th Annual Health Literacy Conference
May 8–10, 2013, Irvine, CA

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

Association for Professionals in Infection Control, 40th Annual Conference
June 8–10, 2013, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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

8th International Conference on Prevention of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
July 8–11, 2013, Busan, Korea

IAFC Missouri Valley Annual Conference
July 10–12, 2013, Colorado Springs, CO

ICOH SC Joint Conference
September 23–26, 2013, São Paulo, Brazil

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

Did you know?

Responders should be extra vigilant for hazards likely to appear during the Hurricane Sandy clean up, notably carbon monoxide exposure, improper generator safety, and chainsaw/tree removal. Click on the links above or go to the NIOSH Storms research page to learn more /niosh/topics/emres/flood.html.

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.