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NIOSH eNews – May 2015

Volume 13 Number 1 (May 2015)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Championing Young Workers

Championing Young Workers event speakers

Rebecca Guerin, Coordinator, NIOSH Safe-Skilled Ready Workforce Initiative (SSRWI) (4th from right) and Dr. Andrea Okun, SSRWI Co-Coordinator (far left), celebrate the official launch of the NIOSH/M-DCPS partnership with M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho (center), Ms. Maria Izquierdo, M-DCPS Chief Academic Officer (4th from left), and members of the M-DCPS Board of Education. Miami, FL, April 15.

A “champion” is commonly defined as the victor of a competition or challenge. A less common usage of the word “champion,” one that has particular resonance for us at NIOSH, is the meaning that denotes an early advocate for an innovative cause or idea.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the nation’s fourth largest school system, under the leadership of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, prides itself on being this second type of champion. Being a champion of new and innovative ideas has made M-DCPS the first school system in the nation to recognize that work readiness skills—such as problem solving, collaboration, and information technology literacy—must also include competencies that equip young people to stay safe and healthy on the job and to contribute to safe, healthy, and productive workplaces. These competencies are critical given that more than 80% of teens will work at some time while in high school and most are unprepared for the hazards they face on the job. In fact, young people under age 25 are twice as likely as adults to get hurt at work.

To address this disparity, NIOSH introduced a framework of eight core competencies that make up the foundational knowledge, skills, and abilities in occupational safety and health that individuals need to gain before entering the labor force. Key features of the NIOSH Core Competencies include the ability to understand work-related risks, to recognize and control hazards, to recognize rights and responsibilities on the job, and to communicate effectively when experiencing a job-related problem. Although NIOSH recommends teaching these competencies in the context of work, they are relevant to all areas of an individual’s life.

Research indicates that schools are one particularly effective locus for the delivery of vital workplace safety and health skills. To this end, NIOSH has integrated the Core Competencies into our free curriculum for middle and high schools, Youth@Work-Talking Safety. The curriculum, which NIOSH recently updated and revised, is customized for all U.S. states and territories to reflect local child labor laws and resources and is aligned with current educational standards. Talking Safety is a fun and easy tool for teachers to use in preparing their students for a lifetime of safe and healthy work.

Talking Safety was first designed almost two decades ago by NIOSH and its partners, including the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California/Berkeley, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Education Development Center Inc. Stakeholders across the country have since championed it and continue to be important partners in its dissemination and diffusion. And now M-DCPS is the first-ever school district to enter into a formal agreement with NIOSH to integrate workplace safety and health into their academic programs using the curriculum.

During the 4-year collaboration, announced at the meeting of the M-DCPS Board of Education on April 15, researchers from the NIOSH Safe-Skilled-Ready Workforce Initiative (SSRWI) will train most of the 362 eight-grade science teachers on use of the updated NIOSH Talking Safety curriculum. M-DCPS science teachers and their students (approximately 3,000 each year) will participate in an evaluation of the new curriculum. SSRWI researchers will also work with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) administrators in the Miami Dade schools to build a sustainable model for teaching foundational workplace safety and health skills. Already, M-DCPS has built life skills for safe and healthy work into the mandatory content to be covered in all eight-grade science classes—which will reach approximately 17,000 teens each year.

It only takes one champion to start a movement, but M-DCPS isn’t alone. NIOSH partners at the Oklahoma Department of Labor recently helped shepherd a bill through the state legislature—Oklahoma Senate Bill 262—that creates a new state law to incorporate workplace safety and health training into every school. State Senator Susan Paddack authored and championed the bill, which Governor Mary Fallin signed into law April 1. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will now work with the state Labor Department to make information regarding workplace safety training available to school districts, using the Oklahoma version of the Talking Safety curriculum.

These are just two of the numerous examples that illustrate how champions are blazing the trail for NIOSH innovations. They demonstrate how a few visionaries, through their dedication, perseverance, and out-of the-box thinking, can enhance the safety, health, and well-being of working youth, now and in the future.

John Howard, M.D.
NIOSH Director

Retirement of Diane Porter, NIOSH Deputy Director for Management

Diane Porter

On May 1, NIOSH Deputy Director for Management retired from NIOSH. In her 33 years at NIOSH, Diane has provided unwavering support and inspiration for NIOSH in several leadership positions. For 12 years, Diane was the NIOSH Associate Director for Policy and Legislation. In 1994, Diane became the Associate Director for Management and Operations. In January 1998, Diane entered the Senior Executive Service (SES) and subsequently was appointed to the position of NIOSH Deputy Director for Management. Over her long career, Diane’s many contributions have been recognized by the receipt of many awards—which are too numerous to name here. But one does stand out. In 2010, Diane received the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award—which is a rare honor—and one richly deserved. Diane, we at NIOSH will miss your sure guidance, but you deserve a wonderful retirement, and all of us at NIOSH wish you the best one ever!

NIOSH Presents 2015 Science Awards for Innovative Occupational Health, Safety Research

On April 23, NIOSH recognized several NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health over the past year. The annual awards are an opportunity for NIOSH to honor researchers for excellence in science that informs and supports the prevention of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about the NIOSH Science Awards, including winners and nominees for all categories, go to /niosh/awards/.

Provide Your Comments on Electronic Health Records

Now is the time to provide your comments on the value of work information in Electronic Health Records (EHRs)! On March 30, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking detailing planned changes to the rules for certification of EHR software. The deadline to submit comments is May 8. The Federal Register notice can be found here at Discussion of potential inclusion of industry, occupation, and other work information begins on page 16829.

NIOSH Morgantown and WVU Partnership: Mentoring High School Students in Southern West Virginia

NIOSH and West Virginia University, Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) have teamed up in Morgantown to help students at Shady Spring High School HSTA Club (near Beckley, West Virginia) develop research projects in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Last fall, the students from the Shady Spring High School HSTA Club visited the NIOSH Morgantown facility where they had an opportunity to learn about the field of occupational safety and health and then met one-on-one with potential mentors and discussed project ideas. On April 28, the students returned to Morgantown to meet with their mentors to review their findings and finalize their presentations in preparation for the HSTA Science Symposium in May. They also participated in a poster session from 3pm–4pm in the lobby of NIOSH. Learn more at 

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Federal Service Excellence Award Winner

The Cincinnati Federal Executive Board recognizes federal employees each year during their Federal Excellence Awards Ceremony. This year Margaret (Maggie) Ivory is the winner in the Administrative Support/Technical Support category.

FEB Federal Service Excellence Awards

Congratulations to all the award nominees from NIOSH Cincinnati who were recognized at the Cincinnati Federal Executive Board Federal Service Excellence Awards. These employees were honored for their dedication, pride, and performance in their jobs as federal workers.

John J. Bloomfield Award Recipient

Congratulations to Richard (Todd) Niemeier for his selection to receive the 2015 American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists John J. Bloomfield Award. This award, which is to be presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (Salt Lake City, Utah, May 30–June 4), recognizes a young industrial hygienist who demonstrates a significant contribution to the profession and pursues effective solutions to the problems of occupational health hazards.

Research Associate of the Year

Congratulations to Jennifer L. Roberts of the NIOSH Division for Applied Research and Technology for receiving the 2015 Research Associate of the Year from the Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society. Ms. Roberts is an analytical chemist specializing in GC-MS analysis of organic compounds in workplace air captured on thermal desorption tubes. She analyzes field samples to screen for volatile organic compounds in support of critical health hazard assessment studies.

News from Our Partners

Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program

The Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (KY FACE) program investigated and reported on a fatal incident where an auto technician mistook a handicapped accessible accelerator pedal for a brake pedal and fatally injured a coworker. Based on this report, Veigel North America LLC Mobility Products & Design redesigned their Left Foot Gas Pedal, Model 3545, to retrofit a vehicle’s steering column with a key, eliminating the need to remove the handicapped-accessible pedal by hand when servicing the vehicle. The newly designed pedal was introduced at the National Mobility Equipment Dealers conference this past February and should be available June 2015 ( The Kentucky FACE report describing the incident is available at

Massachusetts Releases Innovative Safe Patient Handling Report

In January, the Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program released Moving into the Future: Promoting Safe Patient Handling for Worker and Patient Safety in Massachusetts Hospitals. The report was prepared by the Massachusetts Hospital Ergonomics Task Force, led by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program, which includes ergonomic experts and representatives from both labor and industry. The report includes a review of (1) data on patient handling musculoskeletal disorders in Massachusetts hospitals; (2) the intervention effectiveness literature and best practice guidance; and (3) safe patient handling policy initiatives in other states. It also presents the results of a survey of current SPH policies and practices in Massachusetts hospitals. The report concludes with 14 consensus recommendations setting forth a blue print for moving forward to reduce risks associated with patient handling in Massachusetts. Read the full report at

Washington’s SHARP Focus Newsletter

The Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is the primary occupational safety and public health research program in Washington State. SHARP recently improved its quarterly newsletter, SHARP Focus. In the most recent edition,, SHARP highlights a new surveillance report quantifying the burden of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Washington State, a new infographic on the risk of injury in non-mechanized and mechanized logging, and a new video discussing how preventing work-related injuries to healthcare workers will require research and change on many levels.

Save the Date! Graduate Summer Institute in Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

The Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health will host a summer institute from June 1–19 with seven full courses and three 1-day short courses offered over the 3-week period. Courses are designed for practicing public health professionals with responsibilities for health, safety, and environmental matters and for students who are interested in learning more about environmental health sciences concepts. For more information go to

Research Day 2015 Showcases Student Impact on Workers

On March 26, students, faculty, alumni, and community members attended Research Day from the Colorado School of Public Health’s campuses at Colorado State University as well as the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Lee Newman, professor and director of the Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, said that this partnership is vital to the event’s success. Research Day is a yearly event organized by the Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health to showcase students’ environmental and occupational health research projects. The event has grown yearly and is expected to more than double in size for the eighth annual event, which will be held in the spring of 2016.

NIOSH Grants Funds Documentary on Wilberg Mine Fire

In 2014, the University of Texas at Arlington, along with its partner Safety Solutions International, received word that they had been awarded a 3-year Western Mine Safety and Health Training Center grant from NIOSH. The grant funds two projects, development and dissemination of a 2-day course, Leadership for First Line Supervisors, led by Dr. Lori Guasta, formerly at the Spokane Research Lab, and the creation of a documentary-style training video on the Wilberg Mine Fire that killed 27 miners in 1984, directed by Dr. Elaine Cullen, who retired from NIOSH in 2008. The trailer for the video can be viewed on the team’s Facebook page at or can be viewed on Vimeo at For questions or to comment on the documentary, please contact Elaine Cullen at

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fire Chief Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death at Structure Fire—Texas

On April 21, 2014, a 52-year-old male volunteer fire chief responded in the fire department’s engine to a single-family dwelling fire. The chief was acting as incident commander and assisting fire fighters over the course of an hour. The chief was pulling 300 feet of 3-inch supply line to the hydrant when he collapsed. The medical examiner listed “atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as the cause of death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201417.html

Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Suffers Fatal Cardiac Event During Fire Department Training—Maryland

On May 30, 2014, a 58-year-old fire apparatus driver-operator participated in his fire department’s annual physical ability test, involving completion of an untimed event of eight job tasks. Following this assessment, the driver-operator attempted a self-contained breathing apparatus maze drill. While in the maze, the driver-operator collapsed. The medical examiner’s office listed the cause of death as “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.” /niosh/fire/reports/face201420.html

Major Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death After Annual Physical Ability Test—Kentucky

On October 30, 2014, a 60-year-old male career major completed his fire department’s annual medical evaluation and physical ability test in 25 minutes without incident or complaint. On his way home, the major stopped at an abandoned gas station and called 911, but the major stated he did not need assistance. Ten hours later, he was found at the gas station dead. The cause of death was listed as “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” with “obesity” as a contributing factor. /niosh/fire/reports/face201421.html

r2p Corner

NIOSH and AIHA Renew Partnership

Recently, NIOSH and the American Industrial Hygiene Association renewed their partnership until December 2019. The partnership has brought the organizations’ expertise together to produce successful collaborations that advance the protection of workers, which will continue into the future under this partnership agreement. They will continue to work cooperatively to provide outreach, communication, and professional development opportunities through occupational safety and health. For more information contact Paul Middendorf at or 404-498-6439.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Noise and Ergonomic Recommendations Provided to an Electronics Recycling Facility

Although employee exposures to metals in air were low, some employees were overexposed to noise and others may be at risk for low back injuries. HHE Program investigators recommended reducing noise levels, starting a hearing conservation program, and evaluating risks for musculoskeletal disorders. A link to this final report is available at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in New Jersey Healthcare Facilities—Extension

The notice was posted on March 27. Written comments must be received on or before May 26.

International Labour Office (ILO) Reference Radiographs

The notice was posted April 6. Electronic or written comments must be received by June 5.

Enhancing Mine Workers’ Ability to Identify Hazards at Sand, Stone, and Gravel Mines—New

The notice was posted on April 8. Written comments must be received on or before June 8.

Board of Scientific Counselors Meeting

The notice was posted on April 14. Meeting will be held on May 12, 8:30am–2:30pm EDT, Patriots Plaza 395 E. Street, SW, Room 9000, Washington, DC 20201. Space is limited to 33 people. If you wish to attend in person or by webcast, please see the NIOSH website to register (/niosh/bsc/) or call (404) 498-2539 at least 5 business days in advance of the meeting. Teleconference is available toll-free (888) 397-9578; Participant Passcode 63257516.

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

Call for Abstracts

Infectious Disease Week

Call for abstracts for oral and poster presentations. Deadline for submission is May 27.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

Call for abstracts and posters. Deadline for submission is May 30.

GTCbio 4th Influenza Research and Development Conference

Call for abstracts and posters. Deadline for submission is June 8.

International Conference on Occupational Health and Safety 2016

Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is September 1.

ASSE Professional Development Conference & Exposition Safety 2016

Call for presenters and proposals. Deadline for submission is July 15.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

GTCbio 4th Influenza Research and Development Conference
July 8–10, Boston, MA

Ninth Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
August 11–13, Atlanta, GA

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

Infectious Disease Week
October 7–11, San Diego, CA

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

International Conference on Occupational Health and Safety 2016
March 1–2, 2016, Miami, FL

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
April 11–16, 2016, Jacksonville, FL

ASSE Professional Development Conference & Exposition Safety 2016
June 26–29, 2016, Atlanta, GA

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

This Month In History

This Month, 38 Years Ago . . .
Edward Baier, then the deputy director of NIOSH, testified before the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the health effects of sulfur dioxide exposure in the workplace. A prevalent byproduct in many industries at the time, the colorless, foul-smelling gas can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and can cause breathing difficulty, choking, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. For more information about controlling exposure to sulfur dioxide in the workplace, see the Sulfur Dioxide International Chemical Safety Card. Edward Baier’s full testimony from May 1977 is available at /niosh/pdfs/77-so2.pdf .

Also in May 1977:

  • Star Wars opened in theaters.
  • Israel elected Menachem Begin prime minister.
  • A fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, caused 165 fatalities.