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NIOSH eNews – January 2014


Volume 11 Number 9 January 2014

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Looking Ahead at 2014

Happy 2014! As we get settled into this New Year I wanted to take this opportunity to preview some of the issues and initiatives that NIOSH will pursue in 2014.

As the new year opens, you still have the opportunity to comment on the recently released draft document, Update of NIOSH Carcinogen Classification and Target Risk Level Policy for Chemical Hazards in the Workplace. This significant update to NIOSH’s carcinogen policy, which was first issued in 1978, reflects advancements in cancer science and stakeholder concerns regarding the relevance, process, and scientific bases of the information for characterizing workplace exposures to chemical carcinogens, which will help the occupational safety and health community achieve healthy and safe workplaces. The draft NIOSH document is currently available (/niosh/docket/review/
) for public comment until February 13. A public meeting was also held on December 16, 2013, in Washington, DC, to allow the public to provide comments and ask questions about the draft document. We anticipate completing the final document in 2014.

In the coming year, NIOSH will also look at the implications of climate change for the safety and health of people on the job. Computer models suggest that the United States faces a long-term trend of rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and extreme weather from warming. In those models, historically temperate zones will have warmer, longer summers, and areas that already have hot summers will have even hotter ones. Good stewardship demands that occupational safety and health professionals assess the impact of these predicted extremes on the well-being of people who work outdoors, notably those who work in regions where hot and hotter temperatures can pose serious, even life-threatening, risks to human health.

This is an interesting example of how our efforts to preserve human health at work often intersect with the efforts of our colleagues in the environmental sciences to preserve the natural world around us. Environmental health professionals and occupational health professionals apply their talents to serve different customers, but we share many of the same basic techniques and technologies, as well as many similar challenges, in finding answers to complex scientific questions. Moreover, the modern environmental movement and the modern occupational safety and health movement have common roots. They and we can contribute much to each other’s bases of knowledge.

The year 2014 will also be the year of predictive analytics at NIOSH and looking at “big data” to see if there is a way to predict injuries or illnesses before they happen, based on trends that researchers may be able to identify in large masses of data. By looking for patterns or clues in our data, we hope to be able to improve our ability to see a potential for worker injury or illness before it happens, allowing us to recommend interventions before a worker is hurt.

The href=”/niosh/twh/”>Total Worker HealthTM (TWH) Program continues to broaden our base of support and stimulate new research and recommendations while affirming NIOSH’s historic mission of preventing work-related injury, illness, and death. The evolution of this program, the impressive body of scientific evidence it has helped generate, and the creation of exemplary NIOSH-supported href=”/niosh/TWH/centers.html”>Centers of Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce are hallmark achievements in supporting NIOSH’s charge under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to “preserve our human resources,” the most skilled, dedicated workforce in history.

In 2014, the TWH Program will host a breadth of activities that will help workers, businesses, and practitioners better integrate workplace health protection and work-based health promotion. Mark your calendar now to join us at the National Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM on October 6–8, in Bethesda, MD, on the historic and healthy campus of the National Institutes of Health. We and our partners will hold the first-ever international symposium on Total Worker Health that will explore research, practices, programs, and policies that advance the overall health, safety, and well-being of workers. A Call for Abstracts will be coming early 2014! To stay tuned, visit our website at href=”/niosh/twh”> . And on February 25, join the NIOSH TWP Program and the Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace as they begin a new webinar series. More details are available in this issue of eNews below.

NIOSH continues to face the challenges of addressing our stakeholders’ diverse needs within our budgetary constraints. In 2014, we will continue to plan and manage our resources wisely, so that we allocate our dollars based on an informed understanding of stakeholder needs, options for addressing those needs, and available resources. One of the ways in which we do this is to look for efficiencies in research to better engage our talented scientists across our different geographic locations. A good example of such efficiencies is our use of new communication technologies to collaborate “virtually” between different sites. We have made great strides in doing so with our virtual NIOSH centers: the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, the NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies, and the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center, which has been our virtual hub for this area of advanced occupational safety and health research for more than a decade. In 2014, we look forward to continued progress by these virtual centers and to identifying other opportunities for such collaborations. Today’s budgetary climate sometimes requires us to make difficult decisions, as it does with other federal agencies, but it also encourages us to explore and pursue innovative ways to use our dollars to the best advantage for our stakeholders. I invite you to travel with us as we enter 2014, and I look forward to your interest and input.

Total Worker Health TM Webinar

Join us on February 25, 3:30 to 5:00pm ET, as the Total Worker HealthTM Program and the Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace hosts an inaugural webinar with Dr. Laura Punnett and Dr. Ron Goetzel. This free webinar is the first of a series offering continuing education credits to health protection and health promotion professionals. For more details, sign up for the quarterly eNewsletter, href=”/niosh/TWH/newsletter/”>TWHTM in Action!

Broad Agency Announcement for Development and Demonstration of Mine Safety and Health Technology

The NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health Research is soliciting concept papers to conduct research, explore development, undertake rigorous testing, or evaluate or adapt technologies to improve mine safety in the following six areas: post-event hazardous conditions detection, battery safety, float dust reduction, through-the-earth communication, NO2 and CO personal monitors, and rock dusting. The estimated amount of awards is $200,000–$300,000, with a ceiling of $650,000. The deadline for conceptpapers is January 22. For more information and to apply go to

Just Released Workers’ Compensation Insurance Primer for Public Health

NIOSH announces a new resource, prepared with stakeholder input, to serve as a primer on the elements of U.S. workers’ compensation insurance programs and the potential to utilize workers’ compensation data for public health purposes. This new document, available at href=”/niosh/docs/2014-110/”>/niosh/docs/2014-110/ , comes from the recently launched NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (/niosh/topics/ workerComp/CWCS/), which aims to further encourage worker’s compensation prevention research among public and private sector partners.

Ladder Safety App Available in Spanish

The NIOSH Ladder Safety App is now available in Spanish on both the iPhone and the Android marketplaces.

Total Worker Health Symposium Highlighted in Journal Supplement

A supplemental December 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is available on the Total Worker Health Symposium hosted by the University of Iowa. The issue features keynotes, presentations, an opening by Dr. Howard, and several articles by NIOSH authors.

NIOSH Stress Experts Participate in Twitter Chat on Stress

On December 9, 2013, ten NIOSH stress experts joined representatives from Federal Occupational Health’s FedStrive program in a Twitter chat on stress. NIOSH’s stress experts from the Work Organization and Stress-Related Disorders Cross-Sector Research Program (Toni Alterman, Kaori Fujishiro, Tara Hartley, Diane B. Miller, Jessica Streit, Douglas Wiegand) and the Work Organization and Stress Research Team (Paula Grubb, Rashaun Roberts, Angela Sarver, Ted Scharf) addressed questions related to the definition of stress; causes of and contributors to stress; biological, psychological and sociological consequences of stress; and stress management/prevention strategies. To review the messages, you can directly access Twitter’s archive of the chat or log on to Twitter and search #stresslesschat.

Prevention Through Design Seeks Coordinator

NIOSH announces recruitment of an industrial hygienist or safety engineer to coordinate the agency’s Prevention through Design (PtD) program. This position offers the opportunity to serve a national initiative that promotes the prevention and reduction of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through the design and re-design of workplace environments. The open position is rated as a GS-14 and is located in Cincinnati. It is posted at and is open until January 9. The position job title is Interdisciplinary Industrial Hygienist/Safety Engineer.

NIOSH Issues Nanotechnology Research and Guidance Strategic Plan

NIOSH recently issued the “Protecting the Nanotechnology Workforce: NIOSH Nanotechnology Research and Guidance Strategic Plan, 2013–2016,” href=”/niosh/docs/2014-106/”>/niosh/docs/2014-106/ . This plan updates the November 2009 NIOSH strategic plan with knowledge gained from results of ongoing research, as described in the 2012 report, “Filling the Knowledge Gaps for Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace: A Progress Report from the NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center,” 2004–2011 . href=”/niosh/docs/2013-101/”>/niosh/docs/2013-101/ . Read more at href=”/niosh/updates/upd-12-20-13.html”>/niosh/updates/upd-12-20-13.html


Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Captain John Gibbins

Congratulations to Captain John Gibbins who recently received two awards. Captain Gibbins received a U.S. Public Health Service Unit Commendation for service on the Billet Collection Work Group from 2009–2012. He also received a U.S. Public Health Service Unit Commendation for input for the Veterinary Category contributions to the Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy 2011–2012. Captain Gibbins is a veterinary epidemiologist and team leader in the Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies in Cincinnati, Ohio.

CDR Ed Zechmann

Congratulations to research engineer CDR Ed Zechmann, MS, PE, INCE, for being selected as the 2014 CDC engineer of the year!! Ed is being recognized for his exemplary research to identify and control occupational noise. Much of his work has focused on jack hammers used in the construction industry. He will be honored at the 2014 Federal Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony to be held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on Thursday, February 20.


Bus Operator Webinar

NIOSH and the NORA Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities Sector Council are hosting a webinar to advance sector goals. On February 25, Robin Gillespie of the Transportation Learning Center will present the results of a recent collaborative project to develop best practices for bus operator health and retention. International research, literature, and stakeholder input were combined to create guidelines to reduce the negative impact of both work organization and work environment issues. For more information, contact Jennifer Lincoln at JELincoln@CDC.GOV.

Face Reports

Farmer Killed When Large Round Bale Tumbled from Forks in Loader Bucket—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer were failure in not using a front-end loader attachment specifically designed and properly installed for the tasks, not using the recommended wheel base settings, not carrying loads low, and not selecting storage locations for large round bales so they can be easily and safely accessed and moved when needed. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/07ia081.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/07ia081.html

Truck Driver Entangled in Drive Train While Freeing Seized Brakes—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the truck driver were attempting unauthorized tasks, the lack of proper training, a lockout/tagout program not including the risks and procedures for working on energized equipment, and not maintaining equipment in good operating conditions. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia086.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia086.html

Farmer Engulfed and Suffocated in Soybeans during Unloading of Steel Grain Bin—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer were entering a grain bin while it was being unloaded, the lack of safety signs on the grain bin, the lack of confined space entry procedures and equipment, and not storing and maintaining grain in the proper condition. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia020.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia020.html

84-year-old Farmer Died When Tractor Overturned while Feeding Cattle on Hillside—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer were the lack of a rollover protective structure (ROPS) on the tractor, not having additional lighting to improve the operator’s ability to identify hazards in low-light conditions, no training in the safe use of tractors, and the lack of awareness on the limitations that some medications may impose on safe equipment operations. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia015.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia015.html

Farmer Asphyxiated When Entangled in Drives of Box-type Manure Spreader—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer were failure in not disengaging all the power take-off powered mechanisms and not stopping the tractor’s engine before leaving the tractor, not maintaining the manufacturer’s recommended guarding, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and the lack of equipment maintenance. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/04ia058.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/04ia058.html

Tractor Moving Large Round Bale on Loader Forks Overturned Onto Farmer—Iowa

Some of the factors that led to the death of the farmer were the lack of a roll-over protective structure on the tractor and not following the manufacturer recommendations for proper equipment, installation, set-up, ballasting, and safe operating practices. href=”/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia013.html”>/niosh/face/stateface/ia/05ia013.html

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program Reports

Career Captain Sustains Injuries at a 2-½-story Apartment Fire Then Dies at Hospital—Illinois

On November 2, 2012, a 54-year-old male career captain sustained injuries at a 2-1/2-story apartment building fire, then died at a local hospital. The captain and a fire fighter stretched a hose line toward the rear of the second floor apartment. Before water could be applied to the fire, the captain told the fire fighter they had to “get out” due to rapidly deteriorating conditions. As they attempted to escape, the captain yelled out that he needed help. A Mayday was called and the captain was carried down the stairs to the front yard. The captain was transported to the local hospital where he had complications during airway management and died. NIOSH investigators identified the following contributing factors: modified building construction with multiple ceilings and a multistory, enclosed rear porch; improper horizontal ventilation contributed to the rapid fire growth; ineffective fireground communications; lack of proper personal protective equipment; and the lack of a sprinkler system in the residential rental building. href=”/niosh/fire/reports/face201228.html”>/niosh/fire/reports/face201228.html

News from Our Partners

Workplace Chemicals and Community Risks in Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Public Health recently developed a technical brief for community health officials and incident responders about the potential risks to communities from improper chemical handling and storage in Connecticut workplaces. The document provides information about tools available to local health incident planners and responders to minimize the community impact of workplace chemical emergency incidents. In addition, the document helps to define the roles of local health departments and other community-based responders before, during, and after chemical emergency incidents in workplaces in their districts. A copy of this publication, as well as information about other occupational health surveillance, intervention, and education activities in Connecticut, can be found at the Department’s Occupational Health Program website at

New Alert for Worker’s in New Jersey Solid Waste Industry

The NJ Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Project recently launched an education and outreach effort for workers in New Jersey’s solid waste industry. Hazard alerts and feedback surveys were mailed to all licensed solid waste haulers in New Jersey. The alert was approved and endorsed by the National Solid Wastes Management Association, the Solid Waste Association of North America, and the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. A resource webpage was developed that contains links to relevant FACE reports, the NJDOH hazard alert, NIOSH’s Solid Waste Industry Fact Sheet, and more. Please visit

Colorado BRFSS: Adding Value by Adding Occupation

In 2012, Colorado included industry and occupation questions in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to learn about and evaluate the relationships between work and health status, prevalence of chronic diseases, and health behaviors. Preliminary analyses of these new data demonstrate that these factors vary by occupation. For example, compared with other occupations, fewer workers in farming, forestry, construction, and extraction jobs reported “always” (94%) or “nearly always” (87%) wearing a seatbelt while driving. A full summary report will soon be published by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program ( For more information or to request a direct notice of publication, please contact

AOEC Module Related to Health Concerns in Gulf Coast Region Available

The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC), in collaboration with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, has a grant as part of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Project to develop educational materials related to health concerns in the Gulf Coast region. The first module, Benefits & Risks of Seafood Consumption Enduring Material, has received continuing medical education credits (CME) by Tulane University. It is now available on-line at the Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership, and Strategic Initiatives with CME credit available through Tulane University at This module was developed by members of the AOEC member clinic at the University of California San Francisco. The primary authors are Drs. Rachel Roisman and Robert Harrison and Elana Silver.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Followback Evaluation of Lead and Noise Exposures at an Indoor Firing Range

In 2009, HHE Program investigators measured airborne lead exposures among instructors, shooters, and technicians above occupational exposure limits during firearms qualifications at a firing range. After the company implemented recommendations made to control lead exposures, investigators returned to reassess lead exposures and to evaluate the redesigned range ventilation system. Instructors’ and shooters’ exposure to airborne lead was below occupational exposure limits. However, high levels of lead were detected in the air while the hazardous materials technician vacuumed behind the bullet trap. Surface wipe and vacuum samples detected lead throughout the complex. Measured airflow along the firing line met NIOSH recommendations. HHE Program investigators recommended the following:

  • Eliminate the practice of dry sweeping the firing range.
  • Require instructors and shooters to use lead removal wipes and wash their hands and faces with lead removal soap before eating, drinking, or contact with others.
  • Provide instructors and shooters annual training and educational materials about the health effects of exposure to lead (including the risks of take-home exposure).

A link to this final report is available at href=”/niosh/hhe/whats_new.html”>/niosh/hhe/whats_new.html .

Evaluation of Job Stress and Work-related Health Concerns at a Telephone Call Center

HHE Program investigators evaluated psychosocial factors at work and the impact of job stress on employees’ health at a telephone call center. Investigators surveyed employees about job stress, psychosocial factors at work, job satisfaction, work-related health concerns, and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and held a meeting with all employees to address questions and discuss mental health and suicide prevention. Employees reported that workload and the demanding nature of the job contributed to stress. Job satisfaction was low; most employees believed they did not receive the respect they deserved, their salary was inadequate, and promotion prospects were poor. Employees reported work-related health concerns that included headaches/migraines, musculoskeletal strain, and health effects (e.g., allergy and cold symptoms) they attributed to poor indoor environmental quality. HHE Program investigators recommended the following:

  • Engage employees in discussion about whether and how workload could be better managed.
  • Encourage employees to debrief with their supervisor or a coworker immediately after a call with an unfriendly customer.
  • Maintain and clean the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units regularly and follow a cleaning schedule for the entire facility.

A link to this final report is available at href=”/niosh/hhe/whats_new.html”>/niosh/hhe/whats_new.html .

r2p Corner

NIOSH and NCHS Data Use Agreement

NIOSH and the National Center for Health Statistics recently signed a data use agreement to continue their ongoing collaboration. The purpose of the agreement is to create a set of variables for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These variables will represent known occupational exposure risk factors for chronic obstruction pulmonary disease. For more information, please contact Ainsley Weston at (304) 285-6221 or

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

An Investigation of Lung Health at an Indium-Tin Oxide Production Facility
The notice was posted on November 19, 2013. Comments should be received within 60 days.

Technical Review of 25 Draft Skin Notation Assignments and Skin Notation Profiles
Written comments should be received by January 21.

Current Intelligence Bulletin: Update of NIOSH Carcinogen Classification and Target Risk Level Policy for Chemical Hazards in the Workplace
Comments must be received by February 13.

Health and Socioeconomics Sequelae of the WTC Disaster among Responders
The notice was posted on November 26, 2013. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Pulmonary Function Testing Course Approval Program
The notice was posted on December 23, 2013. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

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

New NIOSH Communication Products

The Following NIOSH Communication Products are available in Spanish:

Call for Abstracts and Presentations

International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health 2014 Annual Conference: Cultivating Ag Safety and Health
Call for posters and educational displays. The deadline for submission is January 27.

23rd Annual Social Marketing Conference
Call for abstracts. The deadline for submission is February 14.

2014 National Safety Council Congress & Expo
Call for presentations. The deadline for submission is January 31.

62nd International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference
Call for presentations. The deadline for submission is February 21.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

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

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

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

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

23rd Annual Social Marketing Conference
June 20–21, Clearwater, FL

International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health 2014 Annual Conference: Cultivating Ag Safety and Health
June 22–26, Omaha, NE

2014 National Safety Council Congress & Expo
September 13–19, San Diego, CA

National Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM
October 6–8, 2014, in Bethesda, MD

62nd International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference
November 14–19, San Antonio, TX

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at href=”/niosh/exhibits.html”> .

Did You Know?

Did you know that the NIOSH-funded Centers of Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce are the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) (at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut); Harvard School of Public Health Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing; Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center (ORhwc); and University of Iowa Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence (HWCE). Learn more at href=”/niosh/twh/centers.html”>/niosh/twh/centers.html