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NIOSH eNews – January 2013


Volume 10 Number 9 January 2013


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

For many of us the New Year is a time for reflection on what we have accomplished and a time to look forward and make our resolutions for the upcoming year. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some NIOSH milestones and highlights of 2012 as well as some of our upcoming activities in 2013.

In 2012 as always our strong partnerships played a big role in creating and disseminating worker safety and health information. Some highlights of these activities include:

  • Continued partnerships on understanding the occupational health implications of nanotechnology, advancing scientists’ ability to conduct risk assessment, and identifying prudent workplace controls and health practices. Notably, 2012 saw publication of the updated document Knowledge Gaps for Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace. As we enter the second decade of our strategic nanotechnology research partnerships, we continue to strive to address stakeholders’ priority needs.
  • Continued collaborations with our partners at OSHA and MSHA, providing robust scientific data that help our fellow agencies address the increasingly complex challenges that they and we face. These collaborations include pioneering field studies and a Hazard alert with OSHA on hydraulic fracturing: illustrating our partnerships to promote safe and economically robust U.S. energy production (also including motor vehicle safety studies in oil/gas and through-the-ground emergency radio transmission in mining).
  • The Fall Prevention Campaign provides an example of our success in marshaling diverse partners to disseminate and use strategies on a large scale that would be difficult for any one agency, company, union, or professional safety organization to undertake alone.

Most recently NIOSH is working with partners to encourage inclusion of occupational information into Electronic Health Records and addressing new frontiers in medical technologies and IT. Thus, reflecting strategic advancements in moving from film-based to digital radiography for identifying work-related pneumoconiosis.

Also of note in 2012, the World Trade Center Health Program continued to provide service to the World Trade Center community under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2012 and engaged the complex issue of cancers associated with WTC exposures, at stakeholders’ request.

As we move forward in 2013 NIOSH has many projects planned as well as many already underway.

In 2013 NIOSH will engage partners and the public as we plan and take needed steps in aligning the NIOSH cancer policy with new knowledge since its last revision in 1996.

NIOSH will continue to enlist new partners with the Total Worker Health™ initiative, with the 2013 national conference on work, stress, and health to highlight new research in that area. We have had great success in partnering with our co-sponsors, the American Psychological Association and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, on earlier national conferences, and we welcome the opportunity to give special attention to Total Worker Health™ in the 2013 conference.

We are also reviewing the 2012 report by the independent reviewers of the Ag program, and determining steps ahead. This illustrates ongoing positive impact of the National Academies program review initiative and the value that NIOSH and partners in the agricultural community have brought to safety in this fundamental American industry.

New initiatives in the extramural research program in 2013 will include key stakeholder engagement in the development of a clearly articulated research portfolio of diverse projects that reflect the strategic research priorities in occupational safety and health, and an integrated approach toward high impact research and performance measurement. Initiatives under our legislative mandate of supporting training for occupational safety and health professionals will continue to respond to a documented national need that is estimated to surpass supply in the coming years. To facilitate information dissemination, reporting of extramural performance data is now a regularly reported on the NIOSH OEP website.

2013 also brings us closer to the beginning of the second half of the second decade of NORA and thus planning ahead as we approach 2016, the 20th anniversary.

2012 illustrated the continuing importance of emergency preparedness, and marked the milestone of incorporating emergency responder health monitoring/surveillance in national response protocols. I look forward to further engagement with partners in 2013 as we continue to advance research to serve the health and safety needs of responders, including research to help ensure that personal protective equipment keeps pace with emerging needs in 21st Century emergency response.

There are always uncertainties in predicting the future, but we know that the major changes that have swept the workplace and working life over the last decade – an increasingly diverse workforce, changes in working arrangements, more people nearing or reaching retirement age, impact of new technologies – will continue to influence events in the foreseeable future.A safe and healthy workforce is a vital component of U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. We look forward to further opportunities in 2013 to serve this national need.

NIOSH en Español. NIOSH Has a Spanish Twitter Account

For news, research, and recommendations in Spanish, please follow us @NIOSHespanol.
(NIOSH, líder mundial por 40 años en la seguridad y salud ocupacional, tiene una cuenta Twitter en español. Favor de seguirnos @NIOSHespanol.)

Public Comments Wanted on Electronic Health Records

Comments are now being accepted on a draft of Stage 3 of Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records from the HHS Health IT Policy Committee. One issue under consideration that NIOSH supports is the inclusion of industry and occupation data in Stage 3.

Learn More About Sleep Deprivation

Sara Luckhaupt of NIOSH was interviewed for a show about sleep deprivation for Safety Breakthrough Talk Radio. Learn more.

Manikins Work Up a Sweat for Safety; Sweating Thermal Manikins, the New NIOSH Testing Tool

NIOSH is broadening its research capacity on personal protective equipment for the 21st Century with the addition of a sweating thermal manikin. This newly acquired technology measures heat transfer through various fabric ensembles of specific types of garments worn in occupations such as firefighting, healthcare, and mining. The sweating thermal manikin will support efforts to create less burdensome materials and designs for protective clothing used by workers who face the risk of heat stress from potentially prolonged duty in hot and physically stressful work environments. Read more.

Study Cites Leading Cause of Death for Oil and Gas Extraction Workers

NIOSH researchers describe the leading cause of death to U.S. oil and gas extraction workers in a recent study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention. The study found that from 2003–2009, 202 oil and gas extraction workers were killed in motor vehicle crashes, resulting in a fatality rate more than eight times higher than all U.S. workers. The authors found a lack of federal regulations for light-duty trucks, low safety belt use, and employment by small establishments among the risk factors for crashes in this industry. This study demonstrates the need for increased motor vehicle safety initiatives in the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

An article by Claire Caruso of NIOSH, “Running on Empty: Fatigue and Healthcare Professionals,” was number six among the top ten Medscape articles read by nurses in 2012.

The article “Prevalence of Hearing Loss in the United States by Industry” was chosen as one of the Top Read Articles of 2012 on The MDLinx Web site is designed to help healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date, and sorts, ranks, and summarizes medical journal articles and news. The NIOSH authors were Elizabeth Masterson, Christi Themann, David Wall, Matthew Groenewold, James Deddens and Geoffrey Calvert, along with SangWoo Tak (Massachusetts Department of Health).

Tom Bobick of NIOSH was one of two CDC engineers who received an engineer of the year award sponsored by Professional Engineers in Government. Dr. Bobick was nominated for engineering achievements that included the design, development and patenting of an adjustable guardrail system for fall prevention.

FACE Reports

Carpenter Died From Extension Ladder Fall–Michigan
The lack of a hazard assessment for the job site, the wrong ladder selection for the job, and the failure to provide ladder training were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the carpenter.

Heavy Equipment Operator Killed When Ejected From Cab—Michigan
The failure to perform an equipment inspection prior to each work shift, the equipment not being adequately maintained, and not wearing a seat belt were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the heavy equipment operator.

Farmer Grading Field Pinned Under Overturned Tractor—Michigan
The inappropriate machine for the task, not establishing a farm safety plan, and not retrofitting an older tractor with a seat belt and a properly designed, manufactured, and installed rollover protective structure (ROPS) were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the farmer.

Deck Engineer on Barge Dies When Struck by Crane Counterweight—Washington
The failure to ensure that the area within the swing radius of the rotating crane was barricaded, the lack of communication between the crane operator and workers, not following lockout/tagout procedures, the lack of training and not having electronic proximity sensing devices to warn the crane operator of workers on foot were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the deck engineer.

Operator Dies After Being Caught Between Bulldozer’s Track and Fender—Washington
The failure in not using the parking brake before exiting the cab of the bulldozer, not shutting down the machinery, the lack of a written safety program, and construction equipment not having an interlock safety system or an operator presence sensing system were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the operator.

Mechanic Killed by Excavator Bucket During Maintenance—Oregon
The wearing of loose clothing while operating machinery, equipment not having protective features, the lack of workplace hazard assessments and no training on best safety practices, and not having a dedicated signal person were some of the contributing factors that led to the death of the mechanic.

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Volunteer Lieutenant Killed and Two Fire Fighters Injured Following Bowstring Roof Collapse at Theatre Fire—Wisconsin
A 34-year-old male volunteer lieutenant lost his life at a theatre fire after the bowstring roof collapsed, trapping him within the theatre. Two mutual aid fire departments were operating at the scene at the time of the collapse. NIOSH investigators concluded that the key contributing factors that led to this fatality included an ineffective incident management system, risk management principles not effectively used, fireground and suppression activities not coordinated, fire ground communications between departments not established, and the hazards of bowstring roof truss construction not recognized by either department.

News from Our Partners

New Fall Prevention Brochures

The Massachusetts FACE Project—in conjunction with the national Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction, and with input from local industry and labor safety experts, contractors, and researchers—has updated and published a series of four residential construction fall prevention brochures for contractors. Brochure topics include myths about falls, ladder safety, scaffold safety and personal fall arrest systems, and all are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The first phase of brochure dissemination has been through building permit offices in cities and towns throughout the state (over 6,000 copies requested to date), worker centers, and training programs such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as well as being posted to the Web.

New Jersey Alerts Swimming Pools Operators and Staff

The Occupational Health Surveillance Unit in the N.J. Department of Health (NJDOH) collaborated with the NJDOH Public Health Sanitation and Safety Program to warn employers and employees about the potential hazards associated with chlorine-based chemicals. Because of their extreme pH properties, chlorine-based chemicals can cause respiratory irritation, even asthma, in the handler if inhaled. The alert, Don’t Get Sick When Applying Pool Chemicals contains safe work practice recommendations for pool staff who manually adjust chlorine levels. The alert was mailed to 782 indoor and outdoor swimming pool operators, along with an evaluation survey to collect surveillance data and assess the impact of the outreach.

OSHA Standards Improvement Project

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing a Request for Information to initiate the fourth phase of its Standards Improvement Project to improve and streamline existing OSHA construction standards by removing or revising requirements that are confusing or outdated or that duplicate, or are inconsistent with, other standards. OSHA invites public comment for revisions to existing construction standards and the rationale for these recommendations. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by February 4, 2013.

CPWR Launches One-Stop Resource on Silica

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) recently launched Work Safely with Silica ( The new website offers easy access to the latest silica-related regulatory requirements, NIOSH and other research, articles, and training materials, as well as responses to frequently asked questions. Central features of the new site include a “Know the Hazard” section, geared for anyone interested in learning more about why silica is hazardous, the risk, who’s at risk, the health effects, and steps workers and contractors can take to work safely with silica.The “What’s Working” section highlights examples of what stakeholders are already doing to the control silica dust and provides a place where workers and contractors can share their successes and challenges. The innovative on-line planning tool, Create-A-Plan, is designed to make it easy for construction contractors and other stakeholders to create job-specific plans for controlling silica dust. With this tool, a user can generate a complete plan in just three steps.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logoErgonomic Evaluation of Surfacing and Finishing Tasks during Eyeglass Manufacturing

HHE Program investigators evaluated ergonomic concerns and musculoskeletal disorders of employees working in the surfacing and finishing departments of three eyeglass manufacturing facilities. Investigators found that employees used awkward postures and repetitive motions that increased their risk for shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, and finger work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Investigators determined that employees were also at increased risk for low-back, work-related musculoskeletal disorders due to repeated bending and twisting. Investigators made the following recommendations:

  • Work areas be designed to have a working height of 27–62 inches.
  • Tables with adjustable heights be added to allow employees to customize the height.
  • Adjustable lifts with rotating platforms be added.
  • Employees rotate job tasks every break.

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


Dampness in Nonindustrial Workplaces

The publication of the NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Respiratory Disease from Exposures Caused by Dampness in Office Buildings, Schools, and Other Nonindustrial Buildings marks a milestone achievement. Better understanding the connections between respiratory diseases and dampness in office buildings and schools and how to prevent those illnesses has been a National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) priority spanning both the first and second decades of NORA. The plain-language Alert summarizes conclusions of multiple studies conducted over several years.

r2p Corner

r2p logoNIOSH-developed Mine Safety Lighting Leads to a Commercial Product

NIOSH signed a nonexclusive licensing agreement with RSL Fiber Systems to market the NIOSH-designed visual warning system.This system is a fiber-optic-based lighting system that outlines a mining machine to improve machine visibility and reduce struck-by and pinning accidents.(Mention of a company or a commercial product does not represent a commercial endorsement by NIOSH.) For more information, contact John Sammarco at (412) 386-4507 or

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Stage 3 Definition of Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records

The deadline to submit comments is January 14.!documentDetail;D=HHS-OS-2012-0007-0001

Proposed Data Collections Spectrum of Flavoring Chemical-Related Lung Disease

Published 11/16/2012. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Request for information on Edel-Kindwall Caisson tables for preventing decompression illness in construction workers

The deadline to submit comments is March 29.

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

Call for Abstracts, Proposals, and Presentations

2013 National Safety Council, Congress & Expo
September 28–October 4, Chicago, IL
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is February 1.

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

Institute for Healthcare Advancement
May 8-10, 2013, Irvine CA.
Call for posters. Deadline for submission is March 1.…

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

American Correctional Association 2013 Winter Conference—Look for us, booth 712!
January 25–30, Houston, TX

Pennsylvania Governors Occupational Safety and Health Conference
February 19–20, Hershey, PA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Association for Professionals in Infection Control, 40th Annual Conference
June 7–10, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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

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

Fraternal Order of Police
August 10–13, Cincinnati, OH

International Association of Firefighters Redmond Symposium
August 21–25, Denver, CO

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare
September 11–14, Orlando, FL

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

2013 NSC Congress & Expo
September 28–October 4, Chicago, IL

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

2013 National Safety Council, Congress & Expo
September 28–October 4, Chicago, IL

For a comprehensive list of upcoming conferences.

Did you know?

Did you know that by acting now you can help get work information into electronic health records (EHRs)? Submit your comments to the Health IT Policy Committee by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time January 14, 2013 and help improve the overall health and well-being of workers. Be sure to reference SGRP 104 when commenting on including work information (namely industry and occupation) in EHRs. EHRs will soon be used in most medical care settings; they provide an historical record of one’s health and allow for improved coordination across a patient’s many healthcare providers. Incorporating industry and occupation information in EHRs would enable providers to better care for their working patients including preventing, diagnosing, and managing injuries and illnesses that may be related to work. Learn more about this important issue and submit your comment today to

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.