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NIOSH eNews – November 2014

Volume 12 Number 7 November 2014

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

More than the Sum of its Parts:
1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM Addresses the Integration of Health Protection and Promotion

In October I had the pleasure of giving the keynote address at the 1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM. The symposium brought together over 17 partner organizations and more than 350 scientists and practitioners from home and abroad, representing industry, academia, and government.

Ensuring safe work for all workers is what we do at NIOSH. What brought so many attendees to the symposium is the desire to do even more for workers.

Historically, preventing work-related injury and illness, rather than worker injury and illness, has been our focus. Workforce health has been subdivided into the world of work and the world of life, and occupational safety and health professionals have confined themselves, or been confined by others, to just the world of work. Yet, we have seen that hazards and habits experienced before and after work can affect our workability.

My view is that this division of responsibility has not been good for workforce health; nor has it been good for the profession of occupational safety and health, whose aim should be broader, larger, and more contributory for all our benefit. Total Worker Health is more than the sum of its parts—health protection and health promotion. It is a synthesis of all aspects of health that create worker well-being.

The NIOSH Total Worker Health strategy champions interventions that comprehensively address work and non-work threats in a harmonized way. We believe that health protection activities and health promotion programs can be successfully coordinated and combined for greater effectiveness. This does not mean compromising our historic leadership in workplace health protection. It means continuing to prevent injury and illness associated with the work environment and the conditions of work while recognizing that, in the 21st century, working life and private life are increasingly interconnected. It was exciting to see a multitude of presentations and workshops—over 40 sessions and over 30 posters—that showcased new frontiers, current research, and best practices in implementing a Total Worker Health framework. More than 100 workforce health professionals shared the latest exciting developments in this important facet of worker health.

mc schraefel PhD, a professor of computer science and human performance at the University of Southampton, UK, helped kick off the scientific sessions with a dynamic and engaging keynote address, “Exploring the Human Technology Interface for Advancing Health.” Dr. schraefel gave a vibrant talk on the brain and body connection and how quality of life needs to be at the core of any technology we design. In her thought-provoking talk, she presented a framework for proactive health and well-being that supports the brain–body connection for better working conditions and greater worker welfare.

The first plenary session opened with presentations from the four NIOSH-funded Centers of Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce. Each of the directors defined research and practice opportunities and challenges they foresee as a result of their ground-breaking research and a need to identify best practices across industry groups. In the latter half of the first plenary session, we saw a presentation on the real-world efficacy of Total Worker Health by Brenda Schmidt, MS, MBA, who is the founder, president, and CEO of Viridian Health Management. She showed how the Mt. Sinai Health System in New York, a new NIOSH Total Worker Health Affiliate, was able to bring together disparate resources and integrate health promotion and health protection activities to enroll and engage high-risk employee populations.

The final plenary session inspired attendees for their work in preparing the next generation of occupational safety and health professionals, through redesigned curricula that address professional development in both safety and health for working populations. Panelists, representing a variety of NIOSH-supported centers and NIOSH Total Worker Health Affiliates, discussed how the need to integrate an understanding of workplace health promotion and wellness with traditional occupational safety and health curricula is paramount in the education of the next generation. This would include not only the design of more comprehensive and scientifically validated workplace wellness programs but also an understanding of the Total Worker Health philosophy, the ability to forge partnerships, the ability to tell stories in both quantitative and qualitative ways, an understanding of the ethical implications of Total Worker Health, and the ability to affect policy.

The momentum from the symposium did not stop after the last session; it led right into another important effort for NIOSH—Healthier Federal Workers. The 3rd Health Federal Workers Conference drew over 150 of our Federal colleagues to learn more about the latest developments in workplace safety, well-being, family and community health, healthy supervision, work-life balance, and many other timely topics. The conference opened with thought-provoking and inspiring remarks from Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, a NIOSH alum, who pronounced, “When we become healthier, we become a better nation.”

At both meetings, attendees had the opportunity to attend a town-hall session, where they could provide input on the top-priority issues to include in the Proposed National Total Worker Health Agenda. The agenda, which is in draft form, is meant to stimulate innovative research, practical applications, policy guidance, and capacity-building of researchers and practitioners to improve workplace practices as they relate to Total Worker Health. As a follow-up to the town hall sessions, I invite you to contribute your thoughts by mail and/or via before December 22, 2014. More detailed information is included on the NIOSH Docket website under Docket Number 275 and in the Federal Register Notice.

Finally, planning for the next International Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM is already under way. Whether you are just beginning on the path toward a safer, healthier workforce or are well on your way, I hope you can join us in the future as we continue to explore research, practices, programs, and policies that advance the overall safety, health, and well-being of workers through the integration of health protection and health promotion.

To read Dr. Howard’s complete keynote address, visit /niosh/twh/pdfs/KeynoteDrHoward1stInternatSymposiumTWH.pdf. For more information on NIOSH’s Total Worker HealthTM program, visit /niosh/twh/.

Dr. Howard Outlines Needs for Research at IOM/NRC Workshop

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., outlined recommendations for research November 3 to inform measures to protect health care workers from occupational risk of Ebola virus disease. Dr. Howard delivered the presentation at a workshop by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies, “Research Practices to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Domestic Ebola Virus Disease.”

In Memoriam: Tom Waters

NIOSH is saddened to note the passing of Dr. Thomas R. Waters, whose 24-year career with the Institute was highlighted by his seminal contributions to research to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Among other notable accomplishments, he made outstanding contributions in the areas of the revised NIOSH lifting equation, manual material handling, occupational lifting in pregnancy, safe patient handling and movement, and youth in agriculture. Tom was widely recognized as one of the preeminent scientists in the field through his dedicated work with domestic and international collaborators, both in academia and industry, to plan, conduct and report on state-of-the-art advances in the fields of risk analysis and intervention development. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues within and outside of NIOSH.

NIOSH Flavorings Research Related to New California Worker Health and Safety Law

California Senate Bill 193, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 29 and scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2016, broadens requirements for reporting of information pertaining to hazardous chemicals in the workplace to a state data repository, the Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS).  The legislation ( requires that manufacturers and distributors of a chemical report to HESIS, on request, the names and addresses of places of employment in California where the chemical is used or is likely to be used, when new scientific or medical information becomes available, and when state health and industrial relations officials concur. Formerly, manufacturers were not required to report information not otherwise required by law. Testimony in support of the bill earlier this year included reference to workplace exposure to food flavorings linked with occupational risk of serious lung damage, a subject of pioneering NIOSH research (/niosh/topics/flavorings/) during the past decade which generated a new body of scientific evidence about this previously unrecognized occupational hazard.

NIOSH Researchers Evaluate Controls to Reduce Diacetyl Exposures

A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene focuses on evaluating ventilation controls designed to reduce emissions of volatile ingredients from mixing tanks, a major source of diacetyl in flavor production plants. The results indicate that emissions from mixing tanks used in the production of flavorings can be controlled with simple, inexpensive exhaust hoods. View the article at /niosh/nioshtic-2/20043994.html.

NIOSH Study Contributes to Classification of o-Toluidine as Human Carcinogen

o-Toluidine has been listed as a Known Human Carcinogen in the 13th Report on Carcinogens, a science-based public health document that identifies substances in our environment that are considered cancer hazards. A NIOSH study conducted at a rubber chemical manufacturing plant in New York State “…provided substantial evidence that o-toluidine was the agent causally related to the observed increase in urinaryMont bladder cancer risk among o-toluidine-exposed workers.” To learn more about o-toluidine and how to keep workers safe, visit the NIOSH o-toluidine webpage at /niosh/topics/ot/default.html.

NIOSH Morgantown Laboratories Featured

The NIOSH Morgantown facility was featured in the locally produced IDINTEL Magazine, which focuses on innovation and investigation in West Virginia’s Technology Corridor. The article highlights current research at each of the three laboratories at the Morgantown facility. You can read the fall issue at

Monthly Features


Partnership Produces New Information on Injury Risk to Oil and Gas Extraction Workers

A partnership arising from the NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Council (/nora/councils/oilgas) produced the first paper ( comparing injury rates among workers on new- and old-technology rotary rigs. Data from the largest U.S. drilling contractor were analyzed by NIOSH. The company’s overall injury rate on new rigs with controls was 33% lower than that on older rigs (without controls); the rate of severe injuries was nearly half. For more information, contact

News from Our Partners

Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program

An article published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in August 2014 by the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance program, on traumatic work-related injuries, showed that the “Other services’’ and “Construction” industry sectors had the highest numbers of work-related cases in the state. Drugs were detected in 55% of all drug-screened work-related trauma cases, indicating that improved identification of specific drug type in positive drug screenings of injured workers is needed to better target prevention efforts, the researchers said. The study is available at

Collaboration in Nebraska Addresses Meatpacking Worker Injuries

Job-related strains and sprains accounted for 40 percent of workers’ compensation claims from 2008 to 2012 for people working in the meatpacking industry in Nebraska, according to new findings from a study by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. The study aimed at gaining insight into injury trends, causes, and risk factors within Nebraska’s animal slaughtering and processing industry.

Working Safely with Isocyanates

The California Department of Public Health has produced a fact sheet ( and new web page ( to provide information on health hazards from isocyanates and ways to minimize workplace exposure. A variety of workers—especially in auto body repair, foam manufacturing, and some types of construction—are exposed to isocyanates, a component of many polyurethane systems. Breathing in isocyanates, or even getting these chemicals on skin, can cause or worsen asthma, a chronic disease.

New IOM Report: Promising the Best Practices in Total Worker Health

An Institute of Medicine Workshop Summary Report on Promising the Best Practices in Total Worker Health is now available. Offering a range of worker and employer perspectives from industry, academia, and government, the report discusses effective implementation of good practices, including ways to overcome barriers in program evaluation and ways to integrate occupational safety and health protection with health promotion in the workplace.

r2p Corner

Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and NIOSH Expand Collaboration

The Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and NIOSH signed an agreement October, 2 to continue and further expand their collaboration related to worker health and safety research in nanomanufacturing, semiconductor fabrication, and the flow of nanomaterials into advanced manufacturing technologies. The partnership will support collaborative research in the areas of exposure assessment, nanoparticle metrology, engineering control strategies, and risk management practices. A key objective is to develop and disseminate workplace safety and health recommendations that can be applied to nanoscale material research and manufacturing. /niosh/updates/upd-10-2-14.html For additional information, please contact Charles Geraci at or (513) 533-8339.

SESI and NIOSH Sign Partnership Agreement

In September, NIOSH signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Brazil’s Social Service of Industry (SESI) to initiate a partnership for worker health and safety. A general overview of both NIOSH and SESI programs and initiatives was shared, and topics included NIOSH research on construction, nanotechnology, and total worker health.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Ventilation Recommendations for a Polymer-Additive Manufacturing Facility

Finding overexposures among employees bagging polymer additions, NIOSH investigators recognized the need to improve the local exhaust system at a manufacturing facility. They recommended removing bends and reducing excess ductwork that created low points and allowed dust to accumulate. 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

Returning Our Veterans to Employment and Reintegration (ROVER): Work Stress and Assistance Animals (New) 
The notice was posted on September 9. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Nominations of Candidates to Serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC 
The notice was posted on September 10. Nominations must be received by December 15, 2014.

Proposed National Total Worker Health Agenda 
The notice was posted on September 23. Comments must be received by December 22, 2014.

Assessing the Impact of Organizational and Personal Antecedents on Proactive Health/Safety Decision Making (New) 
The notice was posted on October 20. Written comments should be received within 60 days.

Application of a Web-based Health Survey in Schools (New) 
The notice was posted on October 22. Written comments should be received within 30 days.

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

Presentations and Abstracts

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

American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Conference
Abstracts and posters must be submitted by November 9.

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

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
Posters and abstracts must be submitted by December 4.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
Poster abstracts must be submitted by December 5.

Tenth Symposium on Performance of Protective Clothing and Equipment: Risk Reduction through Research and Testing (2016)
Abstracts must be submitted by January 9, 2016.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
March 23–26, 2015, Boston, MA

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

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

American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Conference 
May 3–6, 2015, Baltimore, MD

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, WV

2015 Hazmat Conference
May 28–31, 2015, Baltimore, MD

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

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?

OSHA and NIOSH recommend the following practices to staffing agencies and host employers so that they may better protect temporary workers through mutual cooperation and collaboration: Recommended Practices, Protecting Temporary Workers .

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.