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NIOSH eNews – August 2014

Volume 12 Number 4 August 2014

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Direct-reading and Sensor Technologies to Enable a New Era of Worker Safety, Health, Well-being, and Productivity

I am very pleased to announce the launch of the NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies (NCDRST). The new virtual center will serve as a home for NIOSH’s longstanding work in the area of exposure assessment devices—work that is done across the Institute.

The use of sensors has increased exponentially in professional applications and in everyday life. Countless remote wireless sensors are now employed for monitoring personal health, the environment, agriculture, work sites, disaster response efforts, and “smart” buildings and facilities, to name some examples. New devices or smart phone applications are appearing every week that promise to measure a person’s environment or health status. The availability of affordable smart phones has driven improved development of sensor technologies for all these applications. Manufacturers are developing and marketing wearable devices and even implantable devices. One example of an exciting current partnership in the occupational safety and health area, which is being funded through the NIOSH extramural grant program and developed at the University of Michigan, is a belt-worn monitor to detect volatile organic compounds.

Direct-reading and sensor technologies are opening up a whole new era of participatory research and information sharing. Environmental health research is embracing participatory research as a way to gather more exposure data in an individual’s work, home, and play environment. These monitors and sensors make it possible to perform a more comprehensive exposure assessment than ever before. In addition, these technologies will be useful in measuring an individual’s exposome, which is a measure of all exposures and their impact on an individual’s health.

The future of direct-reading devices and smartphone applications may help to revolutionize the practice of industrial hygiene and safety evaluations. A promise of these technologies is that they would allow the industrial hygienist to get immediate results of a measurement so that exposures could be reduced or eliminated without delay. These technologies also allow the industrial hygienist to measure intermittent or determine peak exposures and evaluate potential health consequences. By combining sensors with location or video information, specific work tasks can be evaluated as a potential source of exposure. Another promise of direct-reading and sensor technologies is worker empowerment. Through the use of these technologies, workers can help their employers, supervisors, and colleagues reduce harmful workplace exposures and become active partners in preventing occupational illnesses and injuries.

While these technologies have great promise, more information is needed to understand their utility. Some of the major questions surrounding these technologies are (1) do these monitors or applications accurately measure what they are supposed to be measuring, (2) how are the monitors calibrated, (3) how are these technologies validated, and (4) what are the best uses for these monitors, such as screening vs compliance. Another issue is the large amount of data that can be collected from direct-reading and sensor technologies. How that data is analyzed and interpreted presents challenges at this time.

The new NIOSH center will focus on coordinating a national research agenda for direct-reading methods and sensor technologies; developing guidance documents pertinent to direct-reading methods and sensors, including validation and performance characteristics; developing training protocols; and establishing partnerships to collaborate in the center’s activities. An example of recent internally funded sensor-related work at NIOSH involved the evaluation of a number of noise-monitoring apps. NIOSH noise researchers found that different platforms (Apple iOS versus Android) could affect the overall accuracy of the measurements. The NIOSH Science Blog (Hearing Loss) has further information on those findings.

As sensor technology capabilities are rapidly developing, the new NIOSH center will keep abreast of advancements in new sensor technology and make recommendations on how best to adapt those developments for the workplace. We invite you to partner with us to identify gaps in our knowledge and to develop research strategies for reliable development, validation, use, and interpretation of direct-reading and sensor technologies.

A new NIOSH topic page (/niosh/topics/drst/default.html) provides further information on the new NIOSH center. Please contact Dr. Gayle DeBord ( or Dr. Mark Hoover ( if you have any questions about, or are interested in, partnering in our NCDRST activities.

Upcoming Respirator Manufacturers Meetings

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) will hold two meetings for all respirator manufacturers, the first on August 27 addressing fee schedule implementation, and the second on October 22 addressing updates to standard application procedures. The meetings will be held at the NIOSH NPPTL facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and remote participation will be available for both meetings. Registration information for the October meeting will be available after August 28. Registration for the August meeting is available at /niosh/npptl/resources/certpgmspt/meetings/08272014/. The draft agenda is available at /niosh/npptl/resources/certpgmspt/meetings/08272014/Agenda08272014.pdf.

Share Your Input on the National Total Worker Health Agenda!

The Office for Total Worker HealthTM at NIOSH announces three town-hall opportunities to comment on priority areas of future workplace safety and health research in the first-ever National Total Worker Health Agenda. Town-hall meetings will be held at the Natcher Conference Center, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 7 at the 1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health ( and on October 9 at the Healthier Federal Workers 2014 Conference ( More information about the two conferences and how to register is available at

NIOSH Pub Helps Practitioners with MSD Prevention

NIOSH in collaboration with the Canadian Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) has released a new NIOSH publication Observation-Based Posture Assessment: Review of Current Practice and Recommendations for Improvement. /niosh/docs/2014-131/default.html

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program Listed as Favorite Site

The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program web site (/niosh/fire/) was recently listed by in a collection of the organization’s favorite fire investigation sites.

EIS Application Process Open

Applications are now being accepted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) July 2015–June 2017 Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. EIS is a 2-year, paid postgraduate program of public health service and on-the-job training. The deadline for submitting applications is August 15. Information regarding the new EIS online application and program details is available at Individuals interested in EIS training focusing in occupational safety and health, please contact Sally Brown at 303-236-5950 or For more information on the EIS at NIOSH, go to /niosh/eis.html.

Free Training for Emergency Responders

FREE ONLINE TRAINING for the Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) System is now available and offers continuing education credits. For more information, please go to the NIOSH ERHMS web page at

NPPTL Supports IOM Workshop on Powered Air-purifying Respirators

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) is supporting the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) public workshop on powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). This workshop will be held on August 7 in Washington, D.C. Remote participation is available. NPPTL is exploring performance requirements for PAPRs for healthcare. Pre-registration is required. Registration information is available at

NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Highlights Importance of Preventing Heat-related Illness

NIOSH recently released a health hazard evaluation report that is raising awareness of the risks of working in extreme heat. The report, which is based on an evaluation of heat stress at a national park, provides recommendations that can be applied to other worksites where extreme heat may be a factor. Read more at /niosh/updates/upd-07-23-2014.html.

NIOSH Issues First Closed-circuit Escape Respirator Approval Under New Certification Requirements

NIOSH has issued the first approval for a respirator that complies with the new requirements for closed-circuit escape respirators (CCERs). The approval comes approximately nine months ahead of the deadline established for companies to transition to the new requirements. The new requirements are intended to strengthen emergency respiratory protection for workers relying on these devices during life-threatening escape situations. Read more at /niosh/updates/upd-07-24-2014.html.

Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths from Backing Construction Vehicles and Equipment at Roadway Construction Worksites

Workers on roadway construction worksites are exposed to possible injury and death from moving construction vehicles and equipment. This new NIOSH Workplace Solutions recommends that specific procedures and controls be in place at roadway construction worksites to help prevent backover-related injuries and deaths at roadway construction worksites. /niosh/docs/wp-solutions/2014-125/

Watch the Web for Info on Expanded Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance

NIOSH continues to post updates to its Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program web page, providing information to miners, operators, and medical providers about the expanded coal workers’ health surveillance that is being developed in response to MSHA’s new respirable coal mine dust rule. /niosh/topics/surveillance/ords/CoalWorkersHealthSurvProgram.html

NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Partnership Highlighted in SUNY Announcement

A June 25 announcement by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), State University of New York (SUNY), highlighted ongoing partnership between NIOSH and CNSE in research to further the safe and responsible development of nanotechnology. The SUNY announcement noted that this collaborative work was recently featured in the NIOSH report on the state of Prevention Through Design.

NTSC Progress Report Highlights NIOSH Nanotechnology Leadership

A new progress report issued by the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, through the President’s National Science and Technology Council, cites NIOSH’s leadership in coordinated federal research that furthers the safe and responsible development of nanotechnology. The report highlights cutting-edge NIOSH contributions in research and guidance for designing strategies for safe workplace manufacturing and use of nanomaterials. A key element in the NIOSH effort is the success of the Institute in creating productive collaborations with private sector companies and in developing strong working agreements with other government agencies.

Call for Nominations 2015 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention AwardsTM

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™. The awards are given by NIOSH in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association to recognize excellence in hearing loss prevention. The deadline for self-nominations is September 8. Additional information is available at .

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

West Virginia Branch of Commissioned Officers Association Receives Award

The West Virginia Branch of the Commissioned Officers Association (COA) was presented the COA Branch of the Year Award on June 10 at the Commissioned Officers Association Symposium in Raleigh, North Carolina. CDR Marilyn Ridenour of NIOSH accepted this award on the branch’s behalf. Over the past several years, the branch has been engaged in community outreach activities, increasing the visibility of the corps and its services in Northern West Virginia.

2014 Edward (Ted) Moran Award

CDR Robert McCleery, deputy chief, NIOSH Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance Branch, received the 2014 Edward (Ted) Moran Award from the Environmental Health Officers Professional Advisory Committee. The award recognizes CDR McCleery’s outstanding contribution in the field of occupational and environmental health. The award was presented during the National Environmental Health Association’s Annual Educational Conference.

2014 Josef Hoog Award

The Awards Subcommittee of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Therapist Category selected CAPT David Byrne of NIOSH as the recipient of the 2014 Josef Hoog Award. CAPT Byrne’s submission was based on research to examine systematically the effect on a talker’s voice level caused by wearing a hearing protector and while being subjected to loud noise. The award was presented at the USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium.

NIOSH Ladder Safety App Team Receives an Honorable Mention at the HHS Innovates Competition

The NIOSH Ladder Safety App Team received an honorable mention in the HHS Innovates competition, which recognizes leadership in innovations by employees in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that advance health and safety protections in the U.S. The app is available as a free download for iPhone and Android devices in both English and Spanish. Through June 2014, the ladder safety app has been downloaded more than 22,000 times.


New Falls Campaign Partner

Safway has joined a long list of partners in the national campaign to stop falls in construction (, the leading cause of construction worker fatalities. The campaign was initiated by the NORA Construction Sector Council and is led by NIOSH (/niosh/construction/stopfalls.html), OSHA ( and CPWR ( The Safway Group supplies products and services to thousands of commercial construction sites across the country. For more information, contact Christine Branche at Mention of a company does not imply NIOSH commercial endorsement of their products or services.

FACE Reports

Municipal Crossing Guard Fatally Injured When Struck by a Motor Vehicle—Massachusetts
Some of the factors that led to the death of the crossing guard were crosswalk markings being in poor condition and the lack of traffic control devices at the crosswalk location to warn motorists of the crosswalk location. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/12ma010.html

Electrician Electrocuted While Troubleshooting Envelope Manufacturing Machine—Massachusetts
Some of the factors that led to the death of the electrician were lack of operating procedures for lockout/tagout, location of the machine’s electrical junction box that was both physically and visually inaccessible, and the victim working extended hours. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/12ma007.html

Truck Driver Dies While Rotating Tires Mounted on Demountable Multi-piece Rim Wheels—Massachusetts
Some of the factors that led to the death of the truck driver were not deflating all multi-piece rim wheel tires prior to removing them from a vehicle’s axle, not removing tires mounted on demountable rims from a vehicle, harmful positioning while servicing the wheel or tire components, the lack of standard operating procedures for servicing multi-piece rims, and the lack of training. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/11ma044.html

Municipal Electrician Dies After Falling From the Raised Bucket of a Vehicle-mounted Aerial Lift That Was Struck by a Tractor-trailer—Massachusetts
Some of the factors that led to the death of the electrician were lack of fall protection being used while working from an aerial lift truck’s raised bucket/platform, work zone not being set up correctly, being exposed to moving traffic, lack of appropriate personal protective equipment, and lack of work zone training and a health and safety program. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/11ma043.html

Refuse Collector Was Fatally Injured When Struck by a Backing Refuse Collection Truck—Massachusetts
Some of the factors that led to the death of the refuse collector were climbing onto a refuse collection truck while backing, no backing procedures, lack of appropriate personal protective equipment and a safety and health program, and not using an automated process for refuse collection. /niosh/face/stateface/ma/11ma019.html

Auto Technician Mistakes Handicapped-accessible Accelerator Pedal for Brake Pedal and Fatally Pins Co-Worker—Kentucky
Some of the factors that led to the death of the auto technician were failure to detach unfamiliar handicapped accessible equipment before operating a vehicle and not performing work in an area away from hazards or barricaded from contact with vehicles being serviced.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program Reports

Volunteer Captain Dies After Floor Collapse Traps Him in Basement—New York

On January 22, 2013, a 34-year-old male volunteer captain died when the floor collapsed and trapped him in the basement at a residential structure fire. As a crew was fighting fire that had spread into the basement, the victim and his partner where pulling the ceiling just inside the front door to extinguish the fire that had spread to the attic. The floor collapsed sending them both into the basement. The victim’s partner was able to make it back up to the first-floor doorway but his efforts to assist the victim out of the basement were unsuccessful. The victim was recovered from the basement approximately 20 minutes later but had already succumbed to the products of combustion and was pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators identified inadequate water supply, ineffective fireground communications, ineffective incident command, inadequate size-up, uncoordinated fire attack, lack of situational awareness, and the deteriorated floor members as contributing factors that led to the fatality. /niosh/fire/reports/face201302.html

Fire Fighter Dies From Aortic Dissection During Shift—Massachusetts

On July 8, 2013, a 37-year-old male career fire fighter died during his 10-hour work shift. At 1230 hours, his crew responded to a medical call where the fire fighter assisted with loading a patient into the ambulance. At 1511 hours, the crew was dispatched to another medical call but the fire fighter did not respond to the call. His crew searched the station and found the fire fighter inside a locked bathroom. He was unresponsive, with no pulse or respirations. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was begun, oxygen was administered, and an automated external defibrillator delivered one shock. The fire fighter was transported to the hospital’s emergency department where he was pronounced dead at 1554 hours. The death certificate and autopsy report listed “aortic dissection due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as the cause of death. It is unclear whether the exertion during the first medical call triggered the aortic dissection. /niosh/fire/reports/face201324.html

Volunteer Fire Department Probationary Member Is Killed After the Pumper/Tanker He Was Operating Leaves the Roadway and Overturns—Alabama

On October 17, 2013, a 28-year-old male volunteer probationary fire fighter died when the pumper/tanker he was operating left the roadway and overturned. After working at the scene of a structure fire, the probationary fire fighter left the incident scene in his personal vehicle and responded to his department’s nearby substation. He left the substation driving a 2,500-gallon pumper/tanker. While returning to the incident scene, the pumper/tanker left the roadway in a curve and overturned. The probationary fire fighter was pronounced dead on the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt. NIOSH investigators identified the lack of a department or state-required driver training program, an inexperienced driver, not wearing a seat belt, and entering a curve at a speed not negotiable for a large vehicle such as a pumper/tanker among the contributing factors that led to the fatality. /niosh/fire/reports/face201326.html

News from Our Partners

Oregon Occupational Public Health Program

The Oregon Occupational Public Health Program (OPHP) negotiated funding from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR OSHA) to support the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology & Surveillance (ABLES) Program. OR OSHA funded the ABLES program to ensure access to future health surveillance data.

Georgia BRFSS Industry/Occupation Data Presented at Worksite Wellness Roundtable Addressing Cardio Metabolic Syndrome

The Georgia Department of Public Health, their partners, and the faculty of Emory University met for the 2014 Georgia Leadership Meeting on Worksite Health and Cardio Metabolic Syndrome (CMS) during which health surveillance data were presented to describe the prevalence of conditions among workers related to cardiovascular and metabolic health, and new opportunities for prevention discussed. Presentations from the meeting and more information about CMS can be found at

r2p Corner

NIOSH Launches an Affiliate Program to Advance Total Worker HealthTM

To increase the number of work environments that support the overall safety, health, and well-being of workers, the NIOSH Office for Total Worker HealthTM (TWH) recently launched an affiliate program. Participation in the affiliate program is voluntary and intended for public sector entities; labor organizations; academic institutions; federal, state, or local entities; and non-profit associations that align with the principles of a Total Worker Health approach. Any parties interested in becoming an affiliate may contact the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health via email at More information on the NIOSH Total Worker Health Affiliate Program can be found at /niosh/twh/affiliate.html. For more information on Total Worker Health, visit /niosh/TWH/.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logo

Evaluation of Employee Exposures During Sea Lamprey Pesticide Application

The HHE Program received a request from a health and safety manager at a government agency concerned with potential exposures when employees manually applied pesticides (3-trifluoro-methyl-4-nitro-phenol [TFM] and Bayluscide™) into rivers to control sea lamprey larvae. Sea lampreys are parasitic fish in the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and Lake Champlain. The NIOSH research investigators observed inconsistent and inappropriate reuse of personal protective equipment, inconsistent hand washing methods, and the lack of clean water at some worksites. Investigators found pesticides on work surfaces, PPE, personal clothing, and skin of employees. HHE Program investigators recommended

  • Developing PPE cleaning and storage procedures
  • Installing washing stations so that employees can clean their boots, PPE, and skin
  • Providing employees with clean water for washing and drinking

A link to this final report is available at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.

Evaluation of Job Stress and Morale at a Federal Law Enforcement Agency’s District Facilities

The HHE Program received a request regarding worker health concerns related to perceived low morale, job stress, and communication problems between employees and the employer at a federal law enforcement agency’s district facilities in Illinois. Interviews revealed that (1) nearly half of the employees reported a work-related health concern, (2) employees wanted important information through meetings and email, and (3) most employees felt management was approachable but did not believe their concerns or complaints would be addressed. HHE Program investigators recommended

  • Talking to employees about how workload could be better managed
  • Working with the human resources department to improve transparency in hiring and promotional practices
  • Communicating and enforcing policies for holding employees accountable for poor performance

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!

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Intervention Effectiveness in Material Handling Operations—Revision
The notice was posted on June 4. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Web-based Public Meeting and Request for Public Comment on the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP)
The notice was posted on July 3. Written comments must be received by October 20. Web-based meeting will be August 20, 1–4pm EDT. To register for the meeting, send e-mail to by 5pm EDT August 6. Meeting is limited to 100 people.

Registration of Closed-Circuit Escape Respirator (CCER) Units Upon Purchase
The notice was posted on July 10. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

World Trade Center Health Program Enrollment, Appeals, and Reimbursement
The notice was posted on July 10. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Youth@Work—Talking Safety Curriculum Dissemination Project: Incentives for Adoption Among Public School Districts
The notice was posted on July 17. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Virtual Reality to Train and Assess Emergency Responders—Revision
The notice was posted on July 17. Written comments should be received within 30 days.

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

New NIOSH Communication Products

Presentations and Abstracts

National Fire Protection Association 2015 Backyards and Beyond Wildfire Education Conference
All proposals and education presentations must be submitted online by August 29.

American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo
Professional development courses deadline is September 9. Technical presentations deadline is September 22. See more at

11th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health, Work Stress and Health 2015: Sustainable Work, Sustainable Health, Sustainable Organizations
Papers must be submitted by October 6.

American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists
Poster presentations must be submitted by November 7.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

8th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media
August 19–21, Atlanta, GA

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

1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health
October 6–8, Bethesda, MD /niosh/twh

Healthier Federal Workers 2014
October 8–10, Bethesda, MD

24th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Exposure Science
October 12–16, Cincinnati, OH

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

American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists
March 24–26, 2015, Savannah, GA

FDIC 2015 Conference
April 20–25, 2015, Indianapolis, IN

American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo
May 30–June 4, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT

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

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

Did You Know?

Workers in a wide range of industries and occupations may be exposed to poisonous plants in jobs or tasks that involve working outdoors. It is important for employers to educate and instruct their workers about their risk of exposure, how they can prevent exposures and protect themselves, and what they should do if they come in contact with these plants. Learn more at /niosh/topics/plants/.

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.