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NIOSH eNews – November 2013


Volume 11 Number 7 November 2013

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Welcome Back!

NIOSH’s doors are open again and we are back in operation! The start of this fiscal year presented us with the difficult challenge of a partial shutdown of the federal government and a resulting furlough for many of our staff and contractors.

During the 16 days of closure, most NIOSH employees were sent home on furlough. A very small fraction of our workforce was excepted or exempted from the furlough for specific reasons under the government-wide terms of the shutdown. Those who were excepted or exempted from the furlough continued to report to work for very specific and limited purposes, such as the need to maintain the security of our federal facilities. I understand and sympathize with the feelings of disruption that I think we all felt, our staff and our partners alike.

The resulting delay of important research projects and products is frustrating for those of us at NIOSH and likely for our stakeholders too as it necessitated cancellations of travel, changes in schedules for ongoing programs and projects, and unavailability of staff for normal communications. We were unable to respond to requests for our services under the Health Hazard Evaluation Program. Respirator certification had to be put on hold while staff was furloughed. Chest x-ray screenings for pneumoconiosis in nearly 1,200 coal miners had to be delayed, and research addressing numerous critical occupational hazards had to be halted. These are but a few examples of the impact of the shutdown on NIOSH’s work.

We are thankful that many of our partners continued to push ahead with important meetings about current and future research. While we realize it was not ideal to have to move these discussions forward without key NIOSH staff, our participation simply was not possible, and this continuity, even in our absence, helped to ensure that the mission of the occupational safety and health community was continuing during this time.

As we assess any lingering effects of the general suspension of our activities for two weeks, I can assure you the NIOSH community is back at work to continue research where it left off. As we reboot, we look forward to making up for lost time and renewing our engagement with partners and stakeholders to advance research and disseminate findings and interventions.

I want to reiterate my appreciation for the patience of our staff during the shutdown and for their determination to regain our momentum in the days following our return to normal operations. Finally, I want to thank our partners and stakeholders for your support during this time. It is that support that helps to drive our commitment to improving the lives of workers everywhere.

NMAM Needs Your Feedback. Take the Survey Today

NIOSH is developing the 5th edition of the Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) and we would like your input. Your input is invaluable to the NMAM team to help develop and present information in a clear way using the new formats available through electronic media and to best meet your needs. To take this survey, go to and help us bring the NMAM 5th edition into the 21st century!

Join the Twitter Chat on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

On Tuesday, November 19, 2-3 pm (ET) NIOSH will participate in a twitter chat on noise-induced hearing loss. Rick Davis of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Team will be a contributor. The chat is being hosted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health as part of NIDCD’s 25th anniversary as well as its public awareness campaign, It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.® The chat will be targeted at a general audience, with the goals of increasing awareness about NIHL, preventive measures that individuals (and, perhaps companies) can take – at home, in school, or on the job – as well as to provide insights into related research. Follow the conversation at #NIDCDchat.

NIOSH Study of Firefighters Finds Increased Rates of Cancer

A combined population of 30,000 firefighters from three large cities had higher rates of several types of cancers and of all cancers combined, compared to the U.S. population as a whole, researchers from the NIOSH and colleagues found in a new study. The findings were reported in an article posted online on Oct. 14 by the peer-reviewed journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Read more at /niosh/updates/upd-10-17-13.html.

History Museum Features NIOSH Black Lung Exhibit

“Black Lung Research in Morgantown: Impact on a Nation of Miners,” a special exhibit by NIOSH, opened at the Morgantown Museum in Morgantown, West Virginia, on October 22 and will run until December 14. The display illustrates the contributions by NIOSH and its partners over the past 40 years in achieving progress against coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, popularly known as black lung, and their ongoing work in making further inroads against this persistent, pernicious occupational disease. More on NIOSH research in this area can be found at /niosh/topics/pneumoconioses/. More on the Morgantown History Museum can be found at

Update on NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors Findings

In September, the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors Workgroup issued a final report, Structuring Labor-Management Participation in Research Partnerships: Request for Analysis and Recommendations. The report is a result of a request by NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard for the BSC to provide analysis and recommendations on how best to conduct participatory research in contemporary work settings where workers have a legal representative and those where workers do not. The BSC also released a letter in September to Dr. Howard conveying its finding that NIOSH’s 18 Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and 9 regional Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention (Ag Centers) represent indispensable components of NIOSH’s efforts to reduce occupational injury and illness in the United States. Read more at /niosh/bsc/projects.html.

NIOSH Posts Web Page on Cleaning and Custodial Services

NIOSH has posted a new topic page on cleaning and custodial services. This safety and health topic page describes hazards associated with cleaning tasks and lists NIOSH links to blogs, publications, and other topic pages with recommendations for reducing exposure to those hazards. The topic page also lists resources from academia, other government agencies, industry, and private organizations. /niosh/topics/cleaners/default.html

California Adopts NIOSH Recommendations on Hazardous Drug Exposures

On October 9, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (AB 1202) that requires the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to adopt, as state regulations, NIOSH’s recommendations for reducing exposures of healthcare workers to hazardous drugs. California is the second state to adopt NIOSH’s recommendations as state requirements, following action by the state of Washington in 2012. More information about the new California state law can be found at
. More information about NIOSH’s recommendations can be found at /niosh/topics/hazdrug/.

Agricultural Safety Summit Recap

The North American Agricultural Safety Summit was held September 25–27 in Minneapolis. During his keynote address, NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard noted the technological advancements and abundance that are the modern-day hallmarks of U.S. agriculture. But he challenged the audience: “Can the same promise of plenty—this time in the currency of workplace safety and health—be foreseen for those who work in agriculture?” The event, hosted by the industry-led Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA), drew more than 250 attendees from 10 nations, including farmers, ranchers, migrant worker advocates, safety experts, engineers, media, physicians, and government representatives. Dr. Howard’s keynote both highlighted NIOSH’s contribution to agriculture safety and health and applauded ASHCA’s efforts to overcome safety and health challenges. For more information, please see


Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates…

Tim receives his award from Secretary Sebelius

Tim Pizatella Receives HHS Career Achievement Award
On October 31, Tim Pizatella, deputy director of the NIOSH Division of Safety Research, received a 2013 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Career Achievement Award. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented the award to Mr. Pizatella for his 33 years of service that resulted in outstanding achievements and dedicated service in building and maintaining a productive research program that has contributed to substantial advancements in worker safety.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program Reports

Airport Fire Fighter Suffers Cardiac Death While Performing Airport Runway Check—Alabama

On January 8, 2013, a 33-year-old male career airport fire fighter suffered a sudden cardiac death while performing duties during a 12-hour overtime shift. During the day, the victim and a crew member performed various duties at the airport. In the late afternoon, the victim and a crew member checked for animals, debris, and inoperable lights on the runway when the victim suddenly collapsed. To address general safety and health issues, the NIOSH investigators identified the importance of providing preplacement and annual medical evaluations, having fire fighters cleared for return to duty by a physician knowledgeable about firefighting, phasing in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters, performing a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members, and providing fire fighters with a medical clearance program. /niosh/fire/reports/face201303.html

Volunteer Captain Dies While Participating in Advanced Dive Training—Ohio

On August 10, 2012, a 46-year-old male volunteer captain drowned while attempting to complete an advanced underwater diving course at a county park. The course consisted of two dives and focused on underwater navigation using a compass. The victim experienced buoyancy problems during both dives. During the second dive, the victim and his partner attempted to surface because the victim was low on air. When the victim surfaced, his buoyancy compensator was not inflated, and he was out of air and appeared to be in a panic. The victim’s partner got him under control and began to drag him to the dock. The victim became unconscious, and due to an over-weighted dive belt, his partner was not able to hold onto the victim and he sank to the bottom and drowned. Some of the contributing factors in this incident included insufficient dive training/experience, an over-weighted dive belt, and the lack of medical screening. /niosh/fire/reports/face201225.html

News from Our Partners

Nebraska has Two New Brochures on Lead Poisoning Prevention

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program recently developed and published two new brochures on lead poisoning prevention. The brochures, Preventing Lead Poisoning in Adults and Lead Dust Clean-Up and Control, describe risk factors and health information and provide recommendations for reducing lead exposures. The materials are intended for workers and other adults and will be distributed to individuals with elevated blood lead levels. The brochures are available for download at

Report on Work-Related Health Disparities in Florida

The Florida Occupational Health and Safety Program released a report on work-related health disparities in Florida. The report can be found at

OSHA and Partners to Broadcast Safety Stand Down Event

In response to the increasing number of fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry, OSHA and the National STEPS Network are organizing a voluntary national safety stand down event on November ( This event will be broadcast across the country and will feature speakers including Dr. David Michaels (OSHA) and Ryan Hill (NIOSH). The intent of the national stand down is to help raise awareness of health and safety issues by sharing data, information, and best practices with employers and workers in the industry.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logo

Evaluation of Employee Exposure to Lead and Other Chemicals at a Police Department

HHE Program investigators evaluated employees’ exposure to lead when working in the parking garage adjacent to the firing range of a police department. Other concerns were about a lack of ventilation in the property room where illicit drugs were stored. Most employees interviewed reported health symptoms they thought were related to the workplace or were made worse by the work environment. One employee who reported headache, tiredness, and leg weakness and pain had a higher than normal blood lead level. The firing range did not meet the ventilation design elements recommended by NIOSH. Lead was found on surfaces inside the parking garage. Illicit drugs were found on surfaces in the property room. HHE investigators recommended that the employer:

  • Redesign the firing range or use another firing range that meets all design elements
  • Provide officers with non-lead bullets and lead-free primer
  • Clean surfaces in the parking garage where lead was found and clean surfaces in the property room where illicit drugs were found

The report can be found at /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2012-0083-3189.pdf.

r2p Corner

NIOSH and Toyota Renew Partnership

NIOSH and Toyota renewed their partnership agreement for an additional 3 years to work together to improve workplace safety and health. This agreement will continue to facilitate communication efforts, collaborative research, and implementation of effective workplace injury preventions. For more information, contact Greg Lotz at (513) 533-8462 or

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

World Trade Center Health Program Enrollment & Appeals—Pentagon & Shanksville, Pennsylvania Responders
The notice was posted on September 4. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Taxi Driver Survey on Motor Vehicle Safety and Workplace Violence
The notice was posted on September 13. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Collection and Use of Nonfatal Workplace Violence Information from the National Crime Victimization Survey
Written comments should be received by November 27.

National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Conformity Assessment Extension
The extension notice was posted on October 2. Written comments should be received by December 2.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Commercial Fishermen: Preconceptions and Evaluation in Actual Use Reinstatement
The notice was posted on October 3. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

New NIOSH Application of a Web-based Health Survey Tool in Schools
The notice was posted on October 23. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

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

Call for Abstracts and Presentations

7th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology 2014
Call for Abstracts. The deadline for submission is November 30.

Kentucky Conference On Health Communication 2014: Health Communication Partnerships
Call for Abstracts. The deadline for submission is December 14.

23rd Annual Social Marketing Conference
Call for Abstracts. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2014.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

3rd International Conference on Nanotek and Expo
December 2–4, Las Vegas, NV

Work, Health, and Well-Being: Integrating Wellness and Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace
January 27-29, 2014, Boston, MA

2014 NSC Texas Safety Conference & Expo
March 30–April 1, Galveston, TX

Kentucky Conference On Health Communication 2014: Health Communication Partnerships
April 10-12, 2014, Lexington, KY

AIHCE 2014
May 31–June 5, 2014, San Antonio, TX

Safety 2014 ASSE Professional Development Conference & Exposition
June 8–11, 2014, Orlando, FL

2014 NFPA Conference and Expo
June 9–12, 2014, Las Vegas, NV

7th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology 2014
June 9–13, 2014, Houston, TX

23rd Annual Social Marketing Conference
June 20-June 21, 2014, Clearwater Beach, FL

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

Did You Know?

The CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard is one of the few validated tools that can help employers assess and choose evidence-based strategies to build comprehensive worksite health promotion programs.

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.