NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH eNews – September 2014

Volume 12 Number 5 September 2014

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Recognizing N95 Day

For many workers, personal protective equipment (PPE) is a daily partner in getting the job done safely and successfully. Many confidently rely upon their PPE, assured that manufacturers, the government, and their employers have fulfilled their diverse responsibilities in validating that the technology will protect them. In the case of respiratory protection equipment, this confidence relies in part on a critical role served by NIOSH.

By law, in order to meet requirements for use in the workplace, respirators must be certified by NIOSH. NIOSH does this after conducting tests and executing other procedures that affirm that the device, as designed and manufactured, will provide the expected protection for its intended use when properly fitted and maintained. If you are a worker who uses a respirator on the job, you also depend on training, education, and other services provided by the employer for proper selection, use, and care of your device and on your ability to understand and apply that knowledge.

With any type of respirator, it is critical that employers provide meaningful training and education on the proper use and care of the device, as part of a comprehensive respiratory protection program. It is also vital for workers to embrace that training and to understand best practices for using their devices. Because N95s are the most prevalent class of respirator used in several industries, NIOSH hosts N95 Day every year on September 5 to encourage awareness regarding the importance of education about N95 use and proper practices in workplace settings. During this annual recognition, NIOSH makes a focused effort to communicate information and technical guidance on N95 respirators through many channels, including the opportunity to interact with our experts online. We invite you to acknowledge this day with us and take part in our online activities.

This year’s N95 Day webinar, Respirator Preparedness in Healthcare: Where Technology Meets Good Practices, brings together a panel of three NIOSH experts to talk about their individual research involving N95 filtering facepiece respirators and how that research is important to respiratory protection programs and, ultimately, the N95 users in healthcare. Registration is now open, so please join us at 12:00 P.M. ET as we discuss respirator preparedness topics such as occupational exposure to airborne pathogens, the proper work-related situations for implementation of extended use and limited reuse of filtering facepiece respirators, and dealing with supply issues through stockpiling.

@NIOSH and @NPPTL will host a Twitter chat at 2:00 P.M. ET on September 5. Use #N95Chat to tune into the discussion on best practices when using an N95 respirator. We encourage participation from employers, respiratory protection program managers, and employees of all industries that incorporate N95 respirators into their safety program. The best way to tune in is to search #N95Chat during the time of the Twitter chat. And please keep an eye on the other NIOSH social media channels, Facebook, Pinterest, and the NIOSH Science Blog for more N95 information promotion.

Wearing appropriate respiratory protection when necessary is a vital line of defense against potentially harmful airborne contaminants on the job. This is true of any type of respirator. On N95 Day, we have a timely opportunity to emphasize this message in regard to N95s in particular, for those who work or supervise work in healthcare, construction, agriculture, or other industries where N95s are likely to be found. For starters, it is important for employers to know their responsibilities under law and to follow applicable requirements, such as requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Mine Safety and Health Act. Understanding and appreciating this context, and being familiar with the capabilities of N95s, can also enhance workers’ sense of personal investment. Standards and requirements include:

  • Using a NIOSH-approved respirator. You can find an updated list of approved N95 respirators at
  • Conducting medical evaluations and clearance of workers for respirator use
  • Conducting annual fit testing
  • Instructing the user on proper procedures for putting on and taking off the specific brand and model of respirator they are using
  • Conducting a quick seal check for each new respirator used

We hope that if your workplace uses N95s as part of its respiratory protection plan, that you will consider taking part in the N95 Day activities on September 5. This is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with NIOSH resources. Thank you.

Labor Day Message from NIOSH Director

Whether on the job or interacting with others who are, members of all communities depend on safe, healthy, and secure workplaces to keep things moving and growing. Research in occupational safety and health has been, and remains, a necessary contribution as the world becomes globalized and diversity in the workforce increases. Please see this year’s 2014 Labor Day Message from NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., to help reflect on the importance and urgency of occupational safety and health research and the benefits to workers, their families, and their communities. /niosh/updates/upd-8-28-14.html

Call for Abstracts—National Occupational Injury Research Symposium

NIOSH, in partnership with the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, the National Safety Council, and the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, will host the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS) on May 19 to 21, 2015, at the Camp Dawson Training Center in Kingwood, West Virginia. NIOSH is pleased to announce a Call for Abstracts for oral and poster presentations for NOIRS 2015. For more information about NOIRS 2015 and to submit an abstract, visit the NOIRS 2015 website at /niosh/noirs/2015/. The abstract deadline is December 1, 2014.

Acting Surgeon General Authors NIOSH Blog

A recent NIOSH science blog, “Preventing Skin Cancer,” was authored by RADM Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., acting U.S. surgeon general. Read the blog at

New NC Law Protects Healthcare Workers Who Work With Hazardous Materials

On July 22, the governor of North Carolina signed into law House Bill 644, which requires the North Carolina Department of Labor to develop and enforce regulations that conform to NIOSH recommendations that protect healthcare workers who work with or near hazardous materials and antineoplastic agents from disease and injury caused by exposure. The bill is based on the 2004 NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous drugs in Healthcare Settings, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-165 (/niosh/docs/2004-165/). Thomas Connor of NIOSH led the interdivisional team that prepared the Alert.

National Plan for Detection, Prevention, and Management of Infertility Released

On July 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the National Public Health Action Plan for the Detection, Prevention and Management of Infertility ( This plan was created in consultation with many governmental and nongovernmental partners. NIOSH’s contribution to this action plan is specifically related to reducing exposures to occupational agents that can harm reproductive health and fertility in women and men. The release was featured in the NIOSH Science Blog article, “Workplace Exposures and the National Action Plan for Infertility” (, prepared by Steven Schrader and James Kesner, both of NIOSH.

Shift Work Article Cites NIOSH Resources

A recent article from The Huffington Post, titled “8 Ways Working the Night Shift Hurts Your Health,”cites NIOSH data and resources. The article states that those who work shift work are at a higher risk for a host of health problems that daytime workers may not necessarily face to the same degree.

Public Comment Sought on Draft Document for Workplace Tobacco Policies

NIOSH is seeking public comment on a draft Current Intelligence Bulletin, Promoting Health and Preventing Disease and Injury through Workplace Tobacco Policies. The public comment period is open for 30 days, closing on September 15. Occupational safety and health practitioners, healthcare professionals, and the general public are encouraged to review the document and provide comments.

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

NIOSH Scientist Appointed Convener of International Nanotechnology Working Group

An international committee has unanimously selected Dr. Vladimir Murashov, special assistant for nanotechnology to the NIOSH director, to lead an international working group on the health, safety, and environmental aspects of nanotechnologies. The working group is part of a larger initiative by the International Organization for Standardization to develop standardization in the nanotechnologies field. As convener, Dr. Murashov will guide the working group as they develop science-based standards to improve worker, consumer, and environmental protections by promoting good practice in the production, use, and disposal of nanomaterials and nanotechnology products.

NIOSH/OSHA Release Document for Temp Workers

NIOSH and OSHA have released a new joint document on protecting temporary workers. The document provides recommended practices to staffing agencies and host employers of these temporary workers so that they may better protect temporary workers through mutual cooperation and collaboration.

Healthier Federal Workers 2014

Attend the only national meeting dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of America’s federal workforce! You’ll hear from more than 25 leading national experts, including opening remarks from Acting U.S. Surgeon General RADM Boris Lushniak and NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, as they share the latest in-depth science, the most promising practices, and ready-to-use tools for delivering better workplace health, safety, and well-being. To view the full detailed agenda and to register, visit

Building Professional Development for Total Worker HealthTM

Over the past 40 years, NIOSH and other organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine, have examined issues related to workforce development for professionals in occupational safety and health protection and health promotion. These organizations have found a strong need in almost all healthcare disciplines to develop competent professionals with the skills and abilities to more comprehensively improve global and workplace health and well-being. This finding demonstrates an urgent, essential need to develop and support a more integrated approach to training and professional development. Read more about existing and future development of a Total Worker Health workforce in TWH in Action! /niosh/TWH/newsletter/TWHnewsv3n3.html

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

National Toxicology Program Appreciation Award

National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum recently presented Gayle DeBord of NIOSH with a certificate of appreciation for her many years of service to the National Toxicology Program.

Marvin Mills Award for Fostering Diversity in the Workplace

Pamela Graydon of NIOSH received the distinguished Marvin Mills Award for Fostering Diversity in the Workplace. Dr. Mills presented the award at the annual ceremony on August 12 that honors diversity in NIOSH. The ceremony was held at the NIOSH laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio.


NORA Decade Review Webpage

NIOSH is evaluating the second decade of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), which started on April 28, 2006. A new NORA webpage details the evaluation design. NIOSH will consider the evaluation results when making plans for the third decade of NORA (2016–2026). For more information about the NORA Decade Review and how you might contribute, visit /nora/decadereview.html.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fire Fighter Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death at Structure Fire—West Virginia

On June 24, 2013, a 62-year-old male volunteer fire fighter responded on a mutual aid call to a mobile home fire. After trying to remove large debris near the trailer, he became lightheaded and rested in the shade. Paramedics assigned to rehabilitation helped the fire fighter walk to the rehab area. As the fire fighter arrived at rehab, he lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. Despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced life support for over an hour on the scene, in transport, and at the hospital, the fire fighter died. Given the fire fighter’s underlying cardiovascular disease, NIOSH investigators concluded that responding to the structure fire and the physical exertion of trying to pull heavy debris away from the structure could have triggered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. /niosh/fire/reports/face201401.html

Fire Chief Suffers Fatal Heart Attack While Fighting a Residential Structure Fire—Arkansas

On January 28, 2014, a 53-year-old male career fire chief actively worked during the morning to suppress a wildland fire and reported experiencing heartburn. Shortly after noon, the chief responded in his vehicle to another grass fire that was spreading into a nearby residence. Once the engine arrived, the chief and a lieutenant donned their self-contained breathing apparatus and began interior fire attack. During the attack, the chief appeared sluggish and disoriented. After about 15 minutes, the chief reported feeling sick and called the emergency medical services director who recommended he come to their headquarters for an electrocardiogram (EKG). He underwent an EKG, which revealed changes consistent with an acute heart attack. He was loaded into an ambulance for transport to the emergency department. Approximately 5 minutes into the transport, the chief suffered cardiac arrest. Approximately 1 hour after being transferred to the intensive care unit, the chief suffered another cardiac arrest. Subsequent resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the chief was pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of performing interior fire suppression in turnout gear with SCBA probably triggered his heart attack. /niosh/fire/reports/face201404.html

News from Our Partners

New Study on the Prevalence of Work-Related Dermatitis

Some 13%–18% of all dermatitis cases identified in a recent study of a multi-state working population were related to work—an estimate approximately three times higher than the previous national estimate (5.6%). Using the most conservative formula, the study estimated that approximately 1.5 million workers annually in the United States suffer from work-related dermatitis and, of those, over 17,000 may change jobs, relocate within their workplace, or adjust their work activities due to their work-related dermatitis. The study, reported in the June 2014 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, presents the results of a study by NIOSH state-based surveillance grantees from Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, along with their state Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System partners, which examined the prevalence and effects of work-related dermatitis in the U.S. working population.

New Findings on Injuries to Young Adult Workers in Massachusetts

High rates of occupational injuries were found among young adults working for temporary agencies, in nursing homes, and in restaurants, in preliminary data reported in June at the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Annual Conference by the Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program ( The preliminary data were based on analysis of nearly 2,900 state workers’ compensation lost workday claims from 2010. Findings also suggest that the ages of 18–19 are a key transition period in terms of types of jobs held and types of work-related injuries. The analysis also uncovered challenges to coding occupation for young workers. For more information on the findings or to sign up to be alerted upon release of the full report, please contact

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury and Illness

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it will extend the comment period to October 14 on the proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The proposal, published on November 8, 2013, would amend the agency’s recordkeeping regulation to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep. Individuals interested in submitting comments may do so electronically at, the federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details (

“Drive Safely Work Week” 2014 Campaign Materials Now Available

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) is calling on leaders of companies and organizations to emphasize road safety for all employees—not just those who drive company vehicles—as a core component of organizational safety culture. This year, the theme of Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW), NETS’s signature campaign, is “Driving your safety culture home.” The DSWW free toolkit contains materials on seat belt use and distracted driving. These materials are designed to promote a strong road safety culture in the workplace and at home. The toolkit includes materials that will help employers prepare employees for the launch of corporate policies on the use of seat belts and mobile devices, along with fact sheets and checklists ready for distribution to employees and their families.

r2p Corner

New NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Affiliate Program

The NIOSH Office for Total Worker HealthTM (TWH) is pleased to announce the recent launch of the NIOSH TWH Affiliate Program to advance greater integration of worker health protection and health promotion through collaborations with public and not-for-profit organizations. The goals of the Affiliate Program are to increase the visibility, uptake, and impact of Total Worker Health, attract new collaborators to enrich and broaden NIOSH TWH research and practice, and publicly recognize the contributions of the Affiliates to the development and dissemination of TWH research and practice. If your organization is interested in becoming a NIOSH TWH Affiliate, please visit the NIOSH Total Worker Health website at /niosh/twh/affiliate.html or contact the Office for Total Worker Health via email at

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Measurement of Exposure to Impulsive Noise at Indoor and Outdoor Firing Ranges During Tactical Training Exercises

The HHE Program received a request from a federal agency concerned about firearms instructors’ exposures to high-intensity impulsive noise from weapons firing. NIOSH researchers observed workplace conditions and work activities and informally spoke with firearms instructors. NIOSH researchers measured instructors’ exposures when training with several firearms and weapons systems and calculated the number of gunfire exposures permitted per day without incurring a significant risk of hearing loss. NIOSH researchers determined that during most training exercises (1) instructors were exposed to peak sound pressure levels greater than 150 decibels, above the NIOSH-recommended ceiling limit of 140 decibels, and (2) the number of gunfire exposures permitted per day might be exceeded. Although most instructors wore ear plugs and ear muffs, researchers saw single hearing protection used at outdoor ranges; not all hearing protectors appeared to be deeply inserted into the hearing canal. HHE Program investigators recommended

  • Installing noise controls at the outdoor and indoor ranges
  • Using the most protective criterion to limit the number of daily gunfire exposures
  • Requiring use of dual hearing protection during all live fire training exercises

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

Evaluation of Indoor Environmental Quality in a Natural History Building

The HHE Program received a request from a university health and safety office to evaluate employees’ concerns about rashes, sore throat, and respiratory irritation when working in a natural history building. This building housed offices, computer workstations, and ornithology, mammalogy, and ichthyology departments. NIOSH researchers evaluated the indoor environmental quality, interviewed employees and students about their work and health, and reviewed reports of sampling for mold and chemicals. Employees experienced a variety of symptoms and investigators did not find evidence of a single causal exposure. Allergy to animal allergens was likely responsible for some symptoms, but many of the non-specific symptoms reported by the employees were common and attributing them to specific allergens is difficult. The ventilation systems were well maintained; however, temperature and relative humidity levels were outside the recommended ranges, and air flowed out of the biotic analysis lab into surrounding areas. HHE Program investigators recommended

  • Adjusting the ventilation system so air flows into the biotic analysis lab from the surrounding areas
  • Isolating the specimen storage and handling areas from other work areas
  • Keeping temperature and relative humidity within comfort guidelines

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

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
The notice was posted on July 3. Written comments must be received by October 20.

Registration of Closed-circuit Escape Respirator Units Upon Purchase—New
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—New
The notice was posted on July 17. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Surveillance of Health-Related Workplace Absenteeism—New
The notice was posted on July 24. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Specifications for Medical Examinations of Coal Miners—Interim Final Rule
The notice was posted on August 4. Written comments must be received by October 3.

Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) Public Meeting 
The notice was posted on August 7. Webcast meeting will be September 5, 8:30am–3:30pm. Teleconference is available toll free 888-397-9578, participant passcode 63257516. Register at

NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin: Promoting Health and Preventing Disease and Injury Through Workplace Tobacco Policies
The notice was posted on August 15. Written comments must be received by September 15.

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

New NIOSH Communication Products

Presentations and Abstracts

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.

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium
Abstracts must be submitted by December 1.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

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

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

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
May 19–21, 2015, Kingwood, West Virginia

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?

Did you know that September 5 is N95 Day? N95 Day is a time to recognize the importance of respiratory protection in the workplace and familiarize yourself with the resources available to help you make educated decisions when selecting and wearing a respirator. Learn more at /niosh/npptl/N95Day.html.

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.