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NIOSH eNews – February 2015

Volume 12 Number 10 February 2015

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

2014 Accomplishments and 2015 Priorities

While 2014 is quickly becoming a distant memory, I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of NIOSH’s achievements in 2014 and to thank NIOSH’s staff, partners, and supporters for your commitment and dedication to preventing worker injury and illness. While the Institute’s list of recent accomplishments is vast, I want to share with you a few from 2014 that I am particularly proud of:

  • Improving the protection of our nation’s coal miners. NIOSH published an Interim Final Rule that expands NIOSH’s Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program to include not just underground miners, but also surface miners and adds spirometry, an important lung function test, to the tests already provided by the surveillance program.
  • Helping create ambulance crash standards. NIOSH research was used in four new consensus-based standards issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers to improve the safety of ambulance patient compartments. The project officer, James Green, was a 2014 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) finalist for the impact of this work. Bestowed by the Partnership for Public Service, the award honors dedicated federal employees who have made significant contributions to our country.
  • Showing thousands of workers how to safely position and use ladders through an innovative smartphone application. Between June 2013 and November 2014, the NIOSH Ladder Safety app was downloaded nearly 29,000 times. The smartphone app helps users establish a safe ladder angle and includes additional guidance to safely use ladders. The app also was a finalist in the 2014 HHS Innovates competition and has been applauded by users.
  • Training thousands of healthcare workers on the scope and nature of violence in the healthcare workplace through an innovative web-based service. Between August 2013 and December 2014, more than 8,800 healthcare personnel completed NIOSH’s free, online workplace violence prevention training course.
  • Garnering a better understanding of the health and safety precautions being taken by U.S. businesses that use or manufacture engineered nanomaterials. In a 2014 study, NIOSH researchers detailed that in onsite assessments of 46 facilities, they found nearly 85% used containment-based engineering controls and 90% used some form of personal protective equipment. 2014 also marked 10 years since NIOSH established the Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC) to better understand the occupational health risks associated with manufacturing and using nanomaterials.
  • Disseminating draft guidance for public comment on workplace tobacco policies. The draft document is aimed at preventing occupational injury and illness related to tobacco use as well as improving the general health and well-being of workers.
  • Influencing intended safety practices in the asphalt milling industry. Based on NIOSH silica research, members of the national Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership filed letters of commitment with OSHA agreeing to install best practice silica dust controls on all new half-lane and larger asphalt milling machines by January 2017. This will improve the control of silica-containing dust and minimize workers’ risk for inhaling it and developing respiratory diseases such as silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2015, NIOSH has set priorities that will better position us to address the challenges and opportunities we face in the coming months. Among many other notable goals for 2015, we expect to:

  • Develop evidence-based test methods for validating the effectiveness of personal protective equipment for workers, including workers engaged in global infectious disease prevention. As we were reminded last year in the West Africa Ebola outbreak, emerging infectious diseases know no borders.
  • Develop medical, IT, and administrative infrastructure to provide high-quality, timely, expanded health surveillance services to coal miners.
  • Develop and publish a summary of truck driver and firefighter anthropometry data on the NIOSH website for use in equipment and work space design.

We look forward to keeping you informed about these and other initiatives in the coming months. Please plan to follow us on the web and on our other social networks and let us know how we’re doing.

First Responder Protective Clothing and Equipment Lessons Learned from Ebola Patient Response

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) journal recently interviewed Bill Haskell of NIOSH regarding the planned revisions to NFPA 1999, Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations. Read more

NIOSH Funded Study on Surgery for Spinal Stenosis Publishes Results

A new study funded partly by NIOSH found that, 8 years after the operation, patients who had surgery for spinal stenosis didn’t show differences in pain, function, or level of disability from those who didn’t have the surgery. The authors of this study said this work has important implications for doctors who discuss the expected outcome of spinal surgery with their patients.

CNN Links to NIOSH Total Worker Health Information

A NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) link was included in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s January CNN web article. This was his New Year’s take “on the nine big health stories to watch for, and the questions they will likely raise, in 2015.” Under his Work Life Balance entry, while not overtly mentioned, a link to the TWH site (/niosh/twh/totalhealth.html) was given as the only resource for more info.

Are Flight Attendants at Higher Risk for Miscarriage?

A new study looks at possible health hazards and link to miscarriage for flight attendants. Working during normal sleep hours, high physical job demands and exposure to cosmic radiation may put pregnant flight attendants at higher risk for miscarriage, according to research published January 5 online ahead of print in the journal Epidemiology. The study is the first to date that looked at potential workplace reproductive hazards on individual flights flown by flight attendants. Read more /niosh/updates/upd-1-8-15.html.

MMWR Looks at Worker Illness Related to Newly Marketed Pesticides

A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article authored by NIOSH looks at worker illness related to newly marketed pesticides. This report highlights at least three potential occupational hazards in agriculture: off-target pesticide drift, toxicity of some recently marketed pesticides, and a gap in worker notification requirements. Read the full report at

New NIOSH Web Page on Engineering Controls

Engineering controls protect workers by removing hazardous conditions or by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard. This new directory page links to NIOSH webpages, projects, programs, tools, and resources related to engineering controls created to improve workplace health and safety. /niosh/engcontrols/

New Ebola Information for U.S. Law Enforcement Professionals

A new NIOSH factsheet is now available to help law enforcement professionals who may be exposed to Ebola. The fact sheet explains the risk of exposure and ways they can protect themselves from exposure. /niosh/topics/ebola/pdfs/ebolafactsheetlawenforcement.pdf

In Memoriam: Edward J. Baier, First NIOSH Deputy Director

NIOSH was saddened to learn of the passing of Edward J. Baier, the first deputy director of NIOSH, on December 13, 2014. Mr. Baier dedicated his career to the field of industrial hygiene in the public sector. His leadership and visions contributed significantly to the advancement of worker health and safety. A pioneer in the field, he worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Health from 1946–1956 and from 1956–1972 as chief, then director, of the Division of Occupational Health and Bureau of Mine and Health Safety. In 1972, he joined the federal government serving as NIOSH’s first deputy director where he remained until 1978. Read more at

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

New Coordinator for NORA Construction Sector

NIOSH’s Office of Construction Safety and Health (CSH) is pleased to announce that Gary Scott Earnest, Ph.D., P.E., C.S.P. is now the deputy director of CSH and the coordinator for the NORA Construction Sector, effective January 12. Scott has been using his leadership skills and engineering expertise in these two positions on an acting basis for the last year, filling in upon Matt Gillen’s retirement. Prior to joining CSH, Dr. Earnest was the chief of the Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

NIOSH Chemical Laboratory Receives Accreditation Award

The NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology chemical laboratory received a letter of commendation and engraved plaque for program excellence from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Laboratory Accreditation Program, LLC. The laboratory was among the first industrial hygiene laboratories accredited by AIHA in 1974 and has been continually accredited for 40 years, providing validated chemical exposure data encompassing over 10,000 sequenced reports during this time.

Outstanding Hearing Conservationist Award

Congratulations to William (Bill) Murphy, Ph.D., CAPT, USPHS who will receive the National Hearing Conservation Association’s Outstanding Hearing Conservationist Award during the NHCA’s 40th Annual Conference February 19—21 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bill was nominated by his colleagues in the NHCA for contributing to the understanding of noise hazards through a study of noise-exposed auto workers, numerous evaluations of gunshot noise and bystander noise exposures, many training programs and surveys, and standards development. He has served NIOSH as a leader in research and hearing loss prevention initiatives since 1992.



Requesting Feedback on the Second Decade of NORA

NIOSH is requesting feedback from its partners and the public on the second decade of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). The following request is posed on the website: Please describe the most significant successes and challenges of your engagement with NIOSH during the second decade of NORA (2006 to present). Go to the NIOSH Docket webpage (/niosh/docket/review/docket244a) for additional information and instructions for submitting comments.


News from Our Partners

New York Develops Webinar on the Recognition and Diagnosis of Work-related Asthma

To help healthcare providers understand why it is important to distinguish between non-work-related asthma and work-related asthma and to give guidance on diagnosing work-related asthma, the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention developed a webinar, Work-Related Asthma: Recognition and Diagnosis ( This webinar also offers continuing education credits to physicians, nurses, and health educators.

Louisiana Occupational Health & Injury Surveillance Program

The Louisiana Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance program tracks and investigates elevated blood lead levels (BLLs). From January 2013 to November 2014, the program identified 54 adult males with BLLs greater than or equal to 25 micrograms per deciliter working on three bridge restoration projects in Louisiana. Of these workers, 11 had BLLs greater than or equal to 40 micrograms per deciliter and 6 had BLLs greater than or equal to 50 micrograms per deciliter (OSHA’s level for medical removal from the job). All cases greater than or equal to 40 micrograms per deciliter were referred to OSHA for worksite investigations for lead exposure. For additional information about the workers involved in the U.S. 190 Old Mississippi River Bridge project, please go to the Louisiana Morbidity Report at

Texas Mercury Vapor Exposure Concerns at a Central Texas Hospital

The Texas Department of State Health Services recently conducted a mercury vapor exposure investigation in a limited number of rooms at a central Texas hospital. Pediatric nursing staff had been caring for three children admitted for mercury toxicity resulting from a liquid mercury spill in their home. Clothing and other belongings had been brought from home for use during their hospital stay, and nursing staff were concerned about possible workplace exposures resulting from residual mercury contamination on belongings from home. Measurements were obtained from the children’s rooms and from bagged belongings using a Jerome J505 Mercury Vapor Analyzer, and results, interpretations, and conclusions were provided back to the hospital administration and medical and nursing staff.

University of California San Francisco Presents New Course on Cardiovascular Health and Disease

A new course, “Cardiovascular Health and Disease: Occupational and Environmental Factors and Updates in Occupational and Environmental Medicine,” will be held on March 12–14 in San Francisco, California. This course, presented by the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, provides occupational and environmental health professionals and persons from other health-related disciplines with a review and update of current data in occupational and environmental medicine.

Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Call for Proposals

The Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Pilot Project Research Training Program has posted a Request for Proposals. Grants ranging from $5,000 to a maximum of $20,000 are available to occupational health and safety researchers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Deadline for applications is February 15.

American Industrial Hygiene Foundation Scholarships are Now Available

The deadline to submit a scholarship application for the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation is February 27. Scholarship application and eligibility requirements can found at The application and supporting documentation should be emailed to

Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award

The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) are accepting nominations for the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Safety Leadership Award. The award recognizes organizations for outstanding leadership in advancing fire health and safety. Information is available on the CFSI website at and the NFFF website at

FEMA Accepting Applications for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now accepting applications for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. This program provides funding directly to fire departments and organizations representing the interests of volunteer firefighters to assist them in increasing the number of firefighters to help fire departments meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to protect communities from fire and fire-related hazards and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments.


FACE Reports

Hispanic Worker Falls from Residential Roof—North Carolina

On April 19, 2012, a 37-year-old Hispanic construction laborer began working his first day on a residential roof replacement project. It is believed the laborer lost his footing and slid down the roof, falling more than 13.5 feet to the concrete driveway. /niosh/face/In-house/full201202.html


Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fire Crew Supervisor Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death During Pack Test—Wyoming

On May 17, 2014, a 63-year-old male career wildland fire crew supervisor performed the U.S. Forest Service’s arduous duty work capacity test (commonly known as the pack test) to obtain recertification to fight wildland fires on state property. During the 3-mile walk portion of the pack test, the supervisor collapsed and later died. /niosh/fire/reports/face201413.html

Firefighter Suffers Fatal Heart Attack While Providing Emergency Medical Services—Washington

On May 14, 2013, a 59-year-old male career firefighter suffered an acute heart attack and died. During the fire fighter’s second medical call of the morning, he carried two bags of medical equipment to the second floor, down a long hallway, and struggled to assist with the treatment of a patient before the fire fighter advised crew members that he did not feel well. /niosh/fire/reports/face201416.html


r2p Corner (H2)

NIOSH-developed Roof Bracket and Safety Rail System Now Commercially Available

NIOSH has signed a nonexclusive licensing agreement with Reese Wholesale (Indianapolis, Indiana) to commercialize the NIOSH-designed and patented roof bracket and safety rail system. The NIOSH guardrail system is designed for use in residential, industrial, and commercial construction industries and provides fall protection around roof and floor openings, temporary handrails on stairways, and perimeter protection on flat and six different sloped roofs. Product information for the Reese Wholesale roof bracket and safety rail system may be found at or by contacting Susan Ragan, director of Sales and Marketing, at 765-776-2058. For more information on NIOSH’s research related to fall injury prevention, visit /niosh/topics/falls/. Mention of a company name, product, or website does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Department of Human and Health Services.


Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Ergonomics Recommendations for an Airline Catering Company

Finding awkward postures, repetitive motion, and job stress among airline catering employees, HHE Program investigators recommended redesigning workstations, employee rotation, and increasing teamwork and social support. A link to this final report is available at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.

Precautions Against Libby Amphibole Asbestos Exposure Provided to a Forest Management Agency

Although no overexposures to Libby amphibole were found, HHE Program investigators recommended ways to minimize the potential for exposure. They recommended periodically monitoring employees’ exposure, minimizing dust-generating activities, and scheduling dust-generating tasks on days when the soil is moist. A link to this final report is available at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.


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


New NIOSH Communication Products


Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Emergency Self Escape for Coal Miners (New)
The notice was posted on December 11. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Investigating the Implementation and Evaluation of Top-ranked HSMS Elements (New)
The notice was posted on December 15. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Coal Workers Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) (Revision)
The notice was posted on December 15. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

World Trade Center Health Program Petition for the Addition of a New WTC-related Health Condition for Coverage under the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program (Revision)
The notice was posted on January 22. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin: Reproductive Risks Associated with Hazardous Drug Exposures in Healthcare Workers and Recommendations for Reducing Exposures
The notice was posted on January 23. Electronic or written comments must be received by March 24.

Request for Comment on the Second Decade of National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)
The notice was posted on January 23. Electronic or written comments must be received by March 24.

Enhancing Dialogue and Execution of Dust Reduction Behaviors through Workgroup Communication (New)
The notice was posted on January 23. Written comments should be received within 60 days.


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

Presentations and Abstracts

Tenth Symposium on Performance of Protective Clothing and Equipment: Risk Reduction through Research and Testing
Abstracts must be submitted by February 16.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
March 23–26, Boston, MA

American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists
March 24–26, Savannah, GA

2015 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference and Expo
March 29–31, Austin, TX

FDIC 2015 Conference
April 20–25, Indianapolis, IN

American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Conference
May 3–6, Baltimore, MD

11th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health, Work Stress and Health 2015: Sustainable Work, Sustainable Health, Sustainable Organizations
May 6–9, Atlanta, GA

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
May 19–21, Kingwood, WV

2015 Hazmat Conference
May 28–31, Baltimore, MD

American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo
May 30–June 4, Salt Lake City, UT

2015 National Safety Council Congress & Expo—Building Safer Workplaces
September 26–October 2, Atlanta, GA

National Fire Protection Association 2015 Backyards and Beyond Wildfire Education Conference
October 22–24, Myrtle Beach, SC

Tenth Symposium on Performance of Protective Clothing and Equipment: Risk Reduction Through Research and Testing
January 28–29, 2016, San Antonio, TX

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

Did You Know?

Did you know well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and provide a cost savings over the long term? Learn more at /niosh/engcontrols/.

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.