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NIOSH eNews – June 2013


Volume 11 Number 2 June 2013


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Announces a New Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies

Work-related injuries and illnesses pose immense burdens on workers, their families, their communities, and our economy. According to one study from 2011, costs associated with work related injuries and illnesses in the U.S. are estimated at $250 billion annually. At NIOSH it is our mission to identify, define, and apply ways to reduce these burdens and impacts. One way in which we do this is by conducting surveillance and research using rich sets of data. Workers’ compensation systems are one such source of data. Workers’ compensation systems come into play after a worker suffers a job-related injury or illness. However, for NIOSH’s purposes, data about the nature, severity, and circumstances of a compensated injury or illness may provide valuable scientific evidence for better safeguarding other workers from similar pain and impairment, with attendant cost savings for employers.


NIOSH and its partners have worked closely to explore opportunities and define challenges for using workers’ compensation data to enhance occupational injury and illness surveillance. For example, in 2009 and 2012, in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other leaders, we co-sponsored two historic national workshops on these issues. As another example, we have developed several ongoing studies in partnership with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Building on the needs and opportunities for NIOSH leadership identified through those workshops, partnerships, and other discussions, I am pleased to announce that we have established a coordinating Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (CWCS) within NIOSH to maximize the use of workers’ compensation data for injury and illness surveillance. This new Center hosted within the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies will encourage collaboration of NIOSH scientists with insurers and other private and public sector organizations to reach several goals related to surveillance of and research on occupational injury and illness. These goals include:

  • Identifying trends in work-related injuries-illnesses.
  • Understanding the use and limits of workers’ compensation information.
  • Integrating workers’ compensation data with other health-related data.
  • Understanding the total economic impact of work-related injury-illness.
  • Identifying ways to prevent and reduce the severity of work-related injury-illness.
  • Developing best practices for prevention and disability management.

NIOSH is excited about its new Center because it will work to organize workers’ compensation analyses by NIOSH researchers across a wide range of industries. This is important because coordinated workers’ compensation research has been conducted mostly at large commercial insurers, state-based insurers, or industry organizations, which have not always distributed their data or research findings widely. Although these systems represent one of the largest, potentially richest information sources for safety and health, research using such data for prevention purposes has been limited. In part, this may be due to the fact that the agencies and insurers collecting these data do so within their mission of administering workers’ compensation benefits, and research is not one of their traditional functions. There may also be reasons related to the proprietary nature of the data.

NIOSH will also work with public and private partners to maximize the use of their own workers’ compensation databases for public health use by sharing best practices for data analyses. We have already started a number of studies that are evaluating trends of claim incidence and costs across industries, the effectiveness of prevention approaches, the use of leading indicators for employer safety and health programs, and cost-sharing for work-related injuries-illnesses that are borne by workers’ compensation and other social and health insurance programs. More information about the Center is available at /niosh/topics/workercomp/cwcs/. I invite you to learn about our work, and to consider ways in which you might participate in this vital endeavor.

NIOSH and Partners Relaunch the National Campaign to Prevent Falls

NIOSH, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training announced on April 28 the relaunch of the construction fall prevention campaign, the national initiative to prevent falls at construction sites. Falls continue to be the leading cause of work-related injury and deaths in construction. Read more at

NIOSH Recommends Exposure Limit for Carbon Nanotubes, Nanofibers

In May NIOSH released recommendations that occupational exposures to carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers (CNFs) be controlled to reduce a potential risk of certain work-related lung effects. CNTs and CNFs are man-made elongated particles made of sheets of pure carbon that are about a thousand times smaller than a human hair. Read more at

Introducing the NIOSH Newsroom

The new NIOSH Newsroom provides a central Web hub for NIOSH press releases, recent news publications and articles pertaining to NIOSH, and recent NIOSH research publications and articles. Visit the Newsroom at

New NMAM Method for Toluene in Blood Available

A new method was published in the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM): “Method 8007: Toluene in Blood.” The method is available at

NIOSH Partner Raises Awareness of Hearing Loss Issues

In May, the House Research Institute ( hosted an online campaign to raise public awareness about hearing loss and related auditory and balance issues. The House Research Institute is a nonprofit organization that advocates for safe sound guidelines based on those issued by NIOSH. To learn more about hearing loss prevention, go to

NIOSH Research on Health Conditions, Industry Sectors Noted in NBC ‘Today’ Blog

The NBC News/Today “LifeInc” blog (
) on May 16 noted research by NIOSH in which group medical claims from an insurer were analyzed to identify patterns of disease among worker populations. The study discussed the strengths and limitations of such claims as a way of identifying differences among industries that may be associated with workplace risk factors, and as potential leads for focusing workplace health protection and health promotion efforts. The NIOSH research, “Group medical claims as a source of information on worker health and potentially work-related diseases,” by Bushnell, Li, and Landon, was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, December 2011 (J Occup Environ Med 2011;53(12):1430–1441).


New Web Page on Occupational Hearing Loss

The NIOSH Occupational Hearing Loss (OHL) Surveillance Project began in 2009 to establish a national repository for OHL data and to conduct surveillance and research on this common occupational illness. Learn more about how this project has progressed and grown on the new NIOSH topic page, at


Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates…

Congratulations to Alfred Amendola, NIOSH Safety Engineer and a new Fellow to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). AIHA Fellow Awards are given to those individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of industrial hygiene. They are awarded to only five percent of the association’s membership.

Congratulations to Matthew J. Lozier, Brian Curwin, Marcia G. Nishioka, and Wayne Sanderson of NIOSH. The American Industrial Hygiene Association Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Committee has selected their publication “Determinants of Atrazine Contamination in the Homes of Commercial Pesticide Applicators across Time” for the Lila Albin Award for the best IEQ paper of 2012.

Congratulations to CAPT James S. Spahr, NIOSH Associate Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response, on receiving the 2013 John G. Todd Award from the Environmental Health Officer Professional Advisory Committee. The award recognizes an exemplary environmental health professional at a senior Federal career service level for significant career contributions in achieving the Public Health Service mission of improving the Nation’s health through the practice of environmental health.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Updates

Fire Fighter Dies in Action at Apartment Building Fire—Massachusetts
On December 23, 2011, a 42-year-old male career fire fighter died during fire-fighting operations on the second floor of a three-story apartment building. After making entry, the victim became separated from his crew. Several fire fighters stated they heard a personal alert safety system alarm sounding but were unable to determine the location. After determining that the victim was missing, fire fighters located him and brought him outside. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of interior structural fire-fighting probably triggered a cardiac arrhythmia that led to his death (

Fire Fighter Suffers Cardiac Death after Responding to a Residential Call—Illinois
On November 11, 2012, a 61-year-old male career driver/operator (D/O) and his truck company were dispatched to a three-story apartment building for a report of a burning odor. At the scene, the D/O set up the ladder and carried a ventilation saw to the roof. When the D/O descended the ladder and reached the ground, he was breathing rapidly. His shortness of breath persisted during the return trip and worsened while he was cleaning at the fire station. He suffered cardiac arrest and died. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of responding to the call and ascending/descending the aerial ladder to the roof of a three-story building probably triggered his sudden cardiac death (

News from Our Partners

ACGIH Announces 2013 Award Recipients

In May the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists announced recipients of its 2013 awards for leadership and dedication to the industrial hygiene profession. Congratulations to the 2013 recipients:

  • Günter Oberdörster, DVM, PhD: the Herbert E. Stokinger Award
  • Carol Rice, PhD, CIH: the Meritorious Achievement Award
  • David Michaels, PhD, MPH: the William Steiger Memorial Award
  • Erica Jones, CIH: the John J. Bloomfield Award.

More information can be found at

Beryllium BioBank Accepting Applications for Biological Specimen and Clinical Data Use

Assisted by a group of clinicians and scientists from National Jewish Health, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, East Tennessee Pulmonary Associates, University of California–San Francisco, University of California–Los Angeles, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and the Colorado School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Energy has collected clinical data and specimens from workers with beryllium exposure, sensitization, and disease. Now in the process of promoting the distribution of the data and specimens, the program encourages applications from qualified investigators who seek to advance understanding and prevention of beryllium-related disease. For more information, go to

New Tool-Box Talk Reminds Drivers to Recognize and Combat Fatigue

Available now from the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, a tool-box talk on fatigue as a risk factor in work-related motor vehicle injuries. Included in the tool-box talk are links to a digital story and the full fatality report about an incident involving a commercial truck driver who fell asleep, drove off the road and crashed. The tool-box talk suggests ways to combat fatigue. More information is available at

Salon Workers in New York State Alerted to Formaldehyde in Hair-Straightening Products

An alert developed by the New York State Department of Health on the occupational hazard of formaldehyde in hair-straightening products has been distributed to more than 200,000 salon workers in the state is available at

OSHA Will Hold Meeting of Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold a meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) on June 6, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The tentative agenda includes a discussion on an OPM status report regarding changes to the GS-0018, Safety and Occupational Health Management job series, and updates from FACOSH subcommittees. Those interested in submitting comments or requests to speak can do so electronically at or by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. The meeting is open to the public.

Department of Homeland Security References NIOSH Resources on PPE

NIOSH thanks the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for noting NIOSH resources in its May 23, “EMR-ISAC InfoGram.” DHS referenced NIOSH’s guidance on personal protective equipment for responders in storms, floods, and hurricanes ( The InfoGram provides information to emergency services departments, agencies, and organizations. Subscriptions to the InfoGram are available at no charge by contacting

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logoEvaluation of Vibration Exposure for Interment Technicians

The HHE Program evaluated concerns about injuries to an interment crew at a cemetery from equipment-related vibration. Investigators found that higher speeds on a piece of heavy equipment called a dumper produced more whole-body vibration. Interment employees were exposed to whole-body vibration due to the configuration of the dumper and the condition of the roadways and soil shed area. Investigators concluded that operating the dumper caused more whole-body vibration than operating a backhoe. HHE Program investigators recommended the employer

  • Restrict driving speeds of the dumper and backhoe
  • Improve and maintain roadways and grading of unpaved access roadways
  • Rotate employees through tasks on the dumper and backhoe more frequently.

Evaluation of Pharmaceutical Dust Exposures at an Outpatient Pharmacy

HHE Program investigators evaluated concerns about employees’ exposures to pharmaceutical dust at an outpatient pharmacy. Lactose (a common inactive filler in medications) and active pharmaceutical ingredients were found in air samples; lactose was also found on surfaces throughout the pharmacy. The use of compressed air to clean automatic dispensing machine canisters released dust into the air, taking more than an hour before the small particles were no longer in the air. HHE Program investigators recommended that the employer

  • Install a partially enclosed local exhaust hood for cleaning and filling canisters
  • Use a vacuum with a long, narrow nozzle instead of compressed air to clean canisters
  • Clean all work surfaces with alcohol wipes before breaks and at the end of each workday

Sea Lamprey Pesticide Contamination at a Biological Station

The HHE Program evaluated surface contamination from spills of sea lamprey pesticides that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s at a biological station. Pesticide was found on the carpet and wipe samples from areas that were visibly stained. Room air flowed from the offices into the workshop, which helped keep potentially contaminated air from entering the office spaces. Investigators recommended that employees refrain from entering offices with clothes, shoes, or materials that may have pesticides on them. It was recommended that the employer

  • Remove stained carpet and clean and seal the concrete floor before installing flooring
  • Clean, seal, and repaint walls with visible stains
  • Notify all employees about plans to renovate the building

Evaluation of Zoonotic Disease and Exposures in Persons Working with Marine Mammals

HHE Program investigators evaluated potential exposure of employees and volunteers to zoonotic diseases at a marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center. Among the 213 participants who underwent a blood test, little evidence was found of past infection with the organisms that cause leptospirosis, brucellosis, or Q fever. Air, surface, and bulk dust samples were collected for Coxiella burnetii, the bacterium that causes Q fever; all but one of 130 samples were negative. Investigators found that when the harbor seal area ventilation system was turned on, air flowed from the intensive care unit to other areas of the building. Investigators recommended

  • House any harbor seal pups suspected of having Q fever outside, isolated from other pups
  • Remove carpet in the triage building and replace it with a nonporous surface
  • Provide training on hand washing, personal protective equipment, and risk of infection

The link to these final reports is available at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.


NORA Partnerships Public Meeting

The next semi-annual National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) public meeting, “Partnerships to Advance the National Occupational Research Agenda,” will be held June 20 as a webinar. The main topic will be a presentation and discussion of plans for the evaluation of the second decade of NORA. In addition, senior NIOSH leaders will discuss recent highlights and NIOSH program leaders will respond to questions about pre-meeting handouts provided by some of the NIOSH Sector and Cross-Sector Programs. Individuals and national organizations will learn about and contribute to the progress of NORA. For more information or to register for the webinar, contact

r2p Corner

r2p logoNIOSH and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Partnerships

NIOSH and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently renewed their four-year partnership to assist the U.S. ambulance industry in its efforts to improve the safety and crashworthiness of ambulance patient compartments. NIOSH and NHTSA are collaborating on other worker safety projects, including NIOSH collection of injury surveillance data on emergency medical services (EMS) workers and a joint effort involving the Bureau of Labor Statistics to garner additional data on occupational motor vehicle deaths from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. To learn more about these projects, write to these contacts:

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

For a listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices, go to

New NIOSH Communication Products

The following NIOSH communication products are now available in Spanish:

  • OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert (Spanish): OSHA NIOSH Alerta de peligro: Peligros del cloruro de metileno para los restauradores de bañeras (
  • Preventing Occupational Respiratory Disease from Exposures Caused by Dampness in Office Buildings, Schools, and Other Nonindustrial Buildings (Spanish): Prevención de enfermedades respiratorias ocupacionales por exposición causadas por la humedad en edificios de oficinas, escuelas y otros edificios no industriales (
  • Reducing Exposure to Lead and Noise at Outdoor Firing Ranges (Spanish): Reducción de la exposición al plomo y al ruido en campos de tiro al aire libre (

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

Association for Professionals in Infection Control, 40th Annual Conference
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 (
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
August 10–13, Cincinnati, OH (

2013 National Conference on Health Communications, Marketing and Media
August 20–22, Atlanta, GA (

International Association of Firefighters Redmond Symposium
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
September 11–14, Orlando, FL (

National Tactical Officers Association
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 (

2013 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 2013 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 Offers Online Tornado Resources for Responders

As responders aid communities devastated by tornadoes in the Midwest and Great Plains, NIOSH offers informational resources for minimizing risks of work-related injury or illness from recovery activities, including disaster site management, electrical hazards, stress and fatigue, and other issues (

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.