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NIOSH eNews – April 2016

Volume 13 Number 12 (April 2016)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Stand-Down for Safety and Preventing Construction Worker Falls!

For the third year in a row, NIOSH has combined efforts with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, and other partners, including members of the NORA Construction Sector Council, to take part in the National Safety Stand-Down. Held during the week of May 2–6, the Safety Stand-Down focuses on preventing falls in construction. This event offers a unique opportunity for employers and workers across the nation to ‘stand down’ by pausing work on their construction sites and dedicating time toward activities that promote the prevention of injuries and fatalities from falls.  Employers are encouraged to speak directly to their workers about fall hazards through talks, demonstrations, and trainings and to reinforce the importance of fall prevention requirements.

In many workplaces, falls are a real, persistent, yet preventable hazard. Given the nature of the work, it is perhaps not surprising that the construction industry has the highest frequency of fall-related deaths and serious, sometimes debilitating injuries. Lack of fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation, according to data from OSHA. However, deaths and injuries from falls remain a notably preventable public health problem.

The National Safety Stand-Down is part of a larger campaign to prevent falls in construction, launched 5 years ago by NIOSH, OSHA, CPWR, and the NORA Construction Sector Council. Additional partners include the American Society for Safety Engineers, the National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force Occupational Safety, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs, and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. The Stand-Down coincides with National Construction Industry Safety Week, representing a joint construction industry effort to raise awareness of fall protection.

NIOSH also continues to focus on research to learn how to reduce injuries and fatalities from construction falls.  About one fourth of such fatalities are due to falls from ladders. NIOSH’s first mobile application, the Ladder Safety App, was designed by researchers in its Division of Safety Research (DSR) to improve extension and step ladder safety. The NIOSH Ladder Safety app delivers ladder safety tools, information, reference materials, and training resources into the hands of individual ladder users wherever and whenever they are needed. The latest app update includes interactive tools and guides on step ladder safety. The app is available in English and Spanish as a free download for Apple iPhone/iPad and Google Android devices.

We encourage all construction employers and those who work at height to participate in this year’s Stand-Down. Many free resources are available. The official National Safety Stand-Down website tells how to plan a successful stand-down and get free certificates of participation; education and training resources; and fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. The site also lists free events open to the public, as the information becomes available. To learn more and to join our campaign to prevent falls in construction, visit We look forward to hearing how employers and workers across our nation engage in this focused, concerted effort.

New NIOSH Web Resources on Zika

NIOSH recently released an updated mosquito-borne disease topic page that includes information for workers and employees on the risk of such diseases, including Zika.

NEW Fact Sheet—Older Drivers in the Workplace: How Employers and Workers Can Prevent Crashes

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety released a new fact sheet to provide information on how changes associated with aging may affect older workers’ driving and ability to recover from a crash injury. Older workers bring extensive skills, knowledge, and experience to their jobs. However, those aged 55 or older are at a higher risk of dying in a motor vehicle crash at work than are younger adult workers. Use the provided checklists of action steps and resources to help you, your co-workers, and your employees continue driving safely.

Hazardous Drugs Publication Notes NIOSH Leadership

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) published General Chapter 800, Hazardous Drugs–Handling in Healthcare Settings. The chapter is based on the NIOSH guidelines for handling hazardous drugs and presents the most stringent requirements to date for the safe handling of hazardous drugs in healthcare settings. The focus of the chapter is to protect the safety of the patient, the healthcare worker, and the environment. NIOSH subject matter experts reviewed and commented on the draft chapter in 2014. The USP web page notes the new chapter and acknowledges the NIOSH leadership. The chapter takes effect July 1, 2018, and will be enforceable by the State Boards of Pharmacy.

Get the Second Issue of Behind the Wheel at Work eNewsletter

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety recently released the second issue of Behind the Wheel at Work, a quarterly eNewsletter covering work-related motor vehicle safety topics. This issue features many user-friendly resources to help employers improve safety, including distracted driving–related tips, how to keep older drivers safe in the workplace, and ways to check your knowledge of advanced vehicle safety features.

NIOSH in the News

  • Wall Street Journal References NIOSH Research on Corrections Work
    A March 21 article, from the Wall Street Journal, Prison Guards Are Hard to Capture as Jobless Rates Fall, cites NIOSH research. The article states, “Corrections work is dangerous. A 2013 report by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found correction officers have one of the highest rates of nonfatal workplace injuries, due largely to assaults and other violent acts.” The report points out a major way to improve safety is to address staffing shortages.
  • CBS News Features NIOSH Research on Worker Heart Health
    A CBS news article on the correlation between heart health and risky jobs highlighted NIOSH research in this area. Capt. Leslie MacDonald, lead researcher and senior scientist in the U.S. Public Health Service at NIOSH, provided details on the research. She noted that NIOSH researchers found “workers employed in the broad category of ‘service’ occupations were less likely to have ideal cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index” than were those in less risky jobs.
  • NPR Highlights NIOSH Oil and Gas Research
    NIOSH oil and gas research is highlighted in a recent NPR blog related to risks in federal oil fields rules. The blog states that “a pattern was uncovered: nine oil workers found dead on oil pads in the past six years, many of them young and otherwise healthy.” The article continues that sources believe “they passed out after they opened oil-tank hatches and were engulfed in large amounts of petroleum gases.”

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Inventors Award Ceremony
At the second annual ceremony on March 31, Chris Pan, Shengke Zeng, and Bryan Winner of NIOSH were recognized for their patent “System and Method to Predict and Avoid Musculoskeletal Injuries.” This year’s CDC Inventors Award Ceremony recognized inventors for new U.S. technology patents issued in 2015.

NIOSH Scientists Recognized in the International Journal of Mining Science and Technology
Work by scientists in the NIOSH Spokane and Pittsburgh Mining Research Divisions were selected for the IJMST Special Issue on Ground Control in Mining (volume 26, issue 1, 2016). Selected articles were published from the International Conference on Ground Control in Mining (ICGCM) 2015, held in Morgantown, West Virginia. The ICGCM promotes closer communication among researchers, consultants, regulators, manufacturers, and mine operators to solve ground control problems in mining. The following publications were selected:

Highlights from the Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology
NIOSH was well represented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), held March 13–17 in New Orleans. Investigators received a number of honors:

  • Carrie Long, the Charles River Student Travel Award (Dermal Toxicology Specialty Section) for her presentation “The immunomodulatory potential of microRNA 210 and regulatory T cells in a murine model of chemical sensitization”
  • Katelyn Siegrist, Outstanding Graduate Student Travel Award (Nanotoxicology Specialty Section) for her presentation “Genotoxicity of pristine, heat-treated, and nitrogen-doped multi-walled carbon nanotubes at occupationally relevant doses”
  • Nicole Olgun, 2nd place in the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award (Mechanisms Specialty Section) for “Comparison of the toxicity of sintered vs. unsintered indium tin-oxide particles on murine macrophage and epidermal cells”
  • Donna Davidson, Outstanding Postdoctoral Award (Nanotoxicology Specialty Section) for the presentation “Nano-scaled cerium oxide induces platelet activation in vivo”
  • Aaron Erdely, the Young Investigator Award (Inhalation Specialty Section), given to a scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of inhalation and respiratory toxicology within 15 years of obtaining their highest degree of education
  • Anna Shvedova, acknowledgment by the Nanotoxicology Specialty Section for the most highly cited manuscripts in the field.

NIOSH is also well represented in the leadership of SOT. In addition to outgoing and current officer positions held by NIOSH investigators, these newly elected officers were announced at the meeting:

  • James Antonini, presidential chain of the Allegheny-Erie Regional Chapter
  • Aaron Erdely, presidential chain of the Nanotoxicology Specialty Section
  • Donna Davidson, postdoctoral representative to the Nanotoxicology Specialty Section
  • Nicole Olgun, postdoctoral representative to the Occupational and Public Health Specialty Section
  • Katherine Roach, student representative to the Allegheny-Erie Regional Chapter.


Society of Mining Engineers, Health and Safety Division
Members of the NORA Mining Sector Council and other key NIOSH personnel were involved in establishing the new Health and Safety Division of the Society of Mining (SME). One of its objectives is to promote health and safety as a profession within the mining industry. The Division sponsored ten sessions at the 2016 SME Annual Conference and Expo, of which one featured NORA council speakers and priority topics.

News from Our Partners

OSHA Announces Final Rule to Improve U.S. Workers’ Protection from the Dangers of ‘Respirable’ Silica Dust
On March 24, OSHA announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The updated rule amends silica exposure regulations for the first time since 1971.

Trend and Economic Burden of Agricultural Injury in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Health’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program developed a way to use hospital discharge data to study agricultural injuries and their impact. Researchers used the methodology to track the count, rates, trends, and economic burden associated with agriculture injuries in Minnesota from 2000 to 2010. The Journal of AgroMedicine published the methodology and results in two articles, one detailing the counts, rates, and trends (abstract) and another detailing the economic burden (abstract).

Massachusetts Health Indicator Report Illustrates How Work Affects Our Health
A recent report released by the Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program presents findings on key measures of health for state residents, by occupation and industry groups. The report, Putting Data to Work: 23 Health Indicators by Occupation and Industry, draws attention to work as an important determinant of health to be considered in public health initiatives. Also read the related blog post, Putting Data to Work: How Work Affects Our Health.

MAP ERC Occupational and Environmental Health Research Day
The 8th Annual Occupational and Environmental Health Research Day, March 3, hosted a record number of almost 200 attendees. The event is sponsored by the Mountain & Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC) and the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health. Graduate students presented their research on occupational and environmental health and safety, as well as posters on their work in occupational ergonomics, health physics, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, and occupational health psychology. The event also featured an alumni panel of MAP ERC graduates, who talked about their experiences in the field and shared advice with current students, and a community panel highlighted leaders in their fields. Look for Research Day 2017, coming next May!

OSHA Extending Comment Period on Guidance for Determining Potential Health Hazards of Chemicals
OSHA is extending to May 2 the comment period for its draft Guidance on Data Evaluation for Weight of Evidence Determination. The agency published the draft on February 16 and received requests to extend the comment period, to allow stakeholders more time to review this highly technical guidance and respond constructively to the questions posed. For more information and to review the draft guidelines and provide comment, visit OSHA’s Guidance on Data Evaluation for Weight of Evidence Determination webpage. Comments may also be posted directly, using Docket OSHA-2016-004.

New Associate/Full Professor Positions With Colorado School of Public Health
The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) in the Colorado School of Public Health invites applications for two tenure-track positions at the Associate or Full Professor level. They are seeking candidates with expertise in one or more areas of environmental or occupational health and related disciplines.

NSC Alternative Workstations Blog
The National Safety Council recently posted “Do Alternative Work Stations Work at Work?” The blog post discusses use of alternative workstations to promote healthier work environments.

Fall Protection Works!
A new Safety Success Story highlights how a carpenter’s protective gear saved him from a near-fatal fall. The story is reported by the Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) and Division of Occupational Safety and Health in the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. In addition, the Apollo construction company created a safety poster picturing the worker, Tanner Kane, and a compelling quote about how his life was saved: ‘I went home safe and made it to my son’s baseball game that night.’

R2P Corner

NIOSH Total Worker Health® Affiliate Program Renews Agreements
NIOSH established the Total Worker Health® (TWH) Affiliate Program to foster an integrated approach to protecting and promoting worker well-being through collaborations with public and not-for-profit organizations. NIOSH has renewed its Affiliate relationship and looks forward to continued collaborations with the following organizations:

  • Center for Worker Health and Environment, Colorado School of Public Health
  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock (Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic)
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers (IBB)
  • Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Safety Council
  • Nebraska Safety Council
  • University of Michigan Health Management Research Center

Academic institutions, labor organizations, nonprofit associations, public sector entities, and similar organizations interested in becoming an Affiliate may contact                                                                                                         

FACE Reports

Dump Truck Driver Entangled – Michigan
A dump truck driver died when his clothing became entangled on the rotating power take-off shaft driveline of the dump box. The driver attempted to raise the dump box, and when it would not lift up, he went under the truck to investigate.

Dairy Farm Worker Mauled – Michigan
A farm worker was mauled by either a 2-year-old bull or a dairy cow. The farm worker had been herding cows into a holding pen and was found lying face down. No one witnessed the event.

Lathe Operator Entangled – Michigan
A lathe operator died when his shirt became entangled on a small (<2-inch) piece of 1-inch-diameter bar stock. The lathe had been purchased at an auction and placed in a dimly lit, congested area. At some point, the operator’s shirt wrapped around the stock and tightened around his neck and chest.

Semi-Truck Team Driver Pinned – Kentucky
A semi-truck driver and a fellow team driver, after parking in a lot to make a delivery, decided to adjust the tandems on the trailer. The team driver placed himself near the tandems while the semi-truck driver climbed into the cab to rock the truck, hoping that the tandems would slide into place.

Firefighter Electrocuted – Kentucky
A fire department arrived at a local university to assist in a national fundraising event. After the event, a bucket on the department’s fire tower truck moved upward, toward power lines, instead of being lowered. The firefighter died 1 month later from electrical burn complications.                                                                                                   

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Exposure to Synthetic Cannabinoids during a Clandestine Lab Raid>
HHE Program investigators determined that law enforcement agents were at risk for dermal exposure and ingestion of synthetic cannabinoids and other contaminants at a raided site and agency offices. Investigators found these substances in agents’ urine and noted inconsistent PPE use and ineffective ventilation in the evidence processing and storage area. For more information, click here.

Evaluation of Eye Irritation and Sore Throat in Employees Processing Garlic
Finding diallyl disulfide and other compounds that can cause eye and respiratory irritation in the garlic chopping and cooking areas, HHE Program investigators made these recommendations:

  • Improve the ventilation
  • Limit employee access to the cooking area
  • Determine a cartridge change-out schedule for respirators.

For more information, click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Draft Current Intelligence Bulletin: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials; Notice of Public Meeting and Extension of Comment
The notice was posted on February 10. Comments must be received by April 22.

Draft Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to 1-Bromopropane (1-BP); Notice of Public Meeting and Comments
The notice was posted on February 10. Comments must be received by April 29.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Quality Assurance Review of B Readers’ Classifications Submitted in the Department of Labor (DOL) Black Lung Benefits Program
The notice was posted on February 17. Comments must be received by April 18.

Request for Information on NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies: Sensors for Emergency Response Activities; Extension of Comment Period
The notice was posted on March 8. Electronic or written comments must be received by April 22.

Enhancing Mine Workers’ Abilities to Identify Hazards at Sand, Stone, and Gravel Mines – New
The notice was posted on March 10. Written comments should be received within 30 days of this notice.

EEOICPA Special Exposure Cohort Petitions – Extension
The notice was posted on March 24. Written comments must be received on or before May 25.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

American Industrial Hygiene Conference
May 21–26, Baltimore, MD

2016 International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference
June 16–19, Baltimore, MD

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

2016 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media
August 23–25, Atlanta, GA

Alliance for Hazardous Materials Professionals
August 28–31, Washington, DC

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP)
September 7–10, Myrtle Beach, SC

American Public Health Association
October 29–November 2, Denver, CO

The NIOSH web page, Conferences and Events, offers a list of upcoming conferences.

“This Month in History”

Two decades ago NIOSH released the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). In another milestone on that April day, NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) celebrated their 25th anniversaries together at Washington’s National Museum of American History. In commemoration, Linda Rosenstock, M.D., then the director of NIOSH, said, “As we observe OSHA and NIOSH’s past successes, it is also fitting that we consider ways to address new concerns created by changes in the modern workplace. The National Occupational Research Agenda, which NIOSH released today, is the first step in a collaborative U.S. effort to guide vital safety and health research over the next decade.”