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NIOSH eNews – October 2015

Volume 13 Number 6 (October 2015)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Partnership Focuses on Reaching Spanish-speaking Immigrant Workers With Occupational Safety and Health Information

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, serves as a reminder that health equity in occupational safety and health is central to our nation’s overall health and safety. In a partnership with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its network of 50 consulates in the United States, NIOSH has developed a series of multimedia materials—Protéjase en el trabajo, or Protect Yourself at Work. These materials will be shared with lower-wage Spanish-speaking immigrant workers in the United States. The materials include four brochures, two posters, and five videos. They offer evidence-based information to raise awareness about potential occupational safety and health issues, and they encourage workers to seek help for work-related questions or concerns.

Spanish-speaking immigrant workers may be unfamiliar with U.S. labor, health, legal, or other systems. For this reason, community-based organizations that have existing relationships with these workers are often a more comfortable, trusted, and empowering entry point for their questions and concerns. The infrastructure of the Mexican consular system in the United States—one of these trusted venues—offers workers necessary information. It also provides the health, social, community, and legal services they may need to advocate for themselves, improve their workplace safety and health, and overcome the many barriers they may face. The cornerstone of health promotion activities in the Mexican consulates is the Health Windows (Ventanillas de Salud) program. The Mexican Foreign Ministry’s Protection Department (Departamento de Protección a Mexicanos) also operates in each of the 50 U.S. consulates. The department provides individual assistance on immigration, human rights, and legal issues, among others. The NIOSH collaboration with the Mexican government shows the importance of seeking ways in which to integrate occupational safety and health into existing activities and infrastructure.

Although the consulates are an established infrastructure serving to connect immigrant workers with their local resources, the Protéjase materials can be distributed by any organization that serves Latino immigrant communities. We encourage you to use the materials for any Hispanic Heritage Month events you have planned, and to continue using them in the future to help Spanish-speaking immigrant workers learn about their rights at work, understand that there may be hazards in their workplaces, and find out where to get help to prevent or eliminate the risks.

While the immediate goal of this project was to develop and test the Protéjase materials, our larger goal was to develop an ongoing relationship with the Mexican government in an effort to better document and address the occupational health disparities facing Mexican immigrants in the United States. This small project has developed into a series of collaborations with the Mexican Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, and Governance that range from epidemiological surveillance to interventions. Perhaps most importantly, the partnership has led the Mexican government to integrate occupational health as a key topic of health promotion with their work among their diaspora (separated populations) in the United States. This simultaneously allows NIOSH to develop its institutional capacity to work with immigrant populations.

To find out more about the Protéjase materials, additional resources available for Spanish-speaking immigrant workers, and to download the free materials, please visit the Protéjase website in English or Spanish.

A series of NIOSH science blogs on Protéjase describe the content and usefulness of the Protéjase materials, developing and testing the illustrations and text, and the role of the NIOSH/Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs partnership. We invite you and your colleagues to use these materials and consider additional ways that we can communicate with the diverse U.S. worker population, their employers, and other partners.

Dr. John Howard Reappointed as Director NIOSH and Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program.

John Howard, M.D.

Effective September 3, John Howard, M.D., was reappointed as the NIOSH director and as administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program. Dr. Howard is the sixth director of NIOSH and, with this reappointment, is now the longest-serving director. Dr. Howard has worked with scientists, medical professionals, workers and labor groups, and business leaders to effectively lead investigations into new and potential health hazards, and to address workplace health and safety concerns. As one of the nation’s leaders in occupational health and worker safety, his dedication and passion to ensuring safe and healthy workplaces will lead NIOSH into the future as the organization adapts to the ever-evolving nature of work. Read more about Dr. John Howard’s reappointment as NIOSH director.

Pope Francis I Offers Prayer of Remembrance For The Victims of 9/11

In his Prayer of Remembrance on September 25 at the Ground Zero Memorial in New York City, Pope Francis I embraced the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their loved ones: “We ask you in your goodness  to give eternal light and peace  to all who died here: the heroic first-responders:  our fire fighters, police officers,  emergency service workers  and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy  simply because their work or service  brought them here on September 11. We ask you, in your compassion, to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here fourteen years ago, continue to suffer from injuries and illness.” The World Trade Center Health Program extends warm appreciation to His Holiness for his words of consolation to those still suffering or sick from the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His prayer is welcome encouragement for the Program in our ongoing commitment to serving our members by providing monitoring and treatment. Thanks too, to Dr. Roberto Lucchini, Director, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, one of the clinics participating in the Program, for providing information to the Papal staff for the prayer.

The NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS) Is Now The RESPIRATORY HEALTH DIVISION(RHD)!

On September 22, the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS) officially became the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division (RHD). The DRDS name originated in 1976, when operations based in the NIOSH-Morgantown facility were reorganized. The DRDS name reflected its focus on studying how respiratory hazards such as coal, silica, asbestos, and endotoxin caused occupational respiratory disease. Over the next 40 years, DRDS studied these and many other respiratory hazards. DRDS also provided important public health services, including the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program, Health Hazard Evaluations primarily focused on respiratory issues, and the Spirometry Course Certification Program. RHD will always retain at its core the DRDS mission of protecting workers from diseases caused by respiratory hazards. But the RHD name also reflects its public health service mission and NIOSH’s desire to do more than just prevent disease. We want to optimize health, enabling the people we serve to enjoy their lives to the fullest. Details about RHD can be found in a recent Federal Register Notice.

#PlanAhead with Drive Safely Work Week, October 5–9

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety is celebrating Drive Safely Work Week, October 5–9. This year’s campaign, #PlanAhead: Your Key to Driving Safely, underscores the fact that planning may be the most critical leg of any journey, whether that journey takes place on the job or off. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, the campaign will help you to minimize risks on the road and offer resources to help you become a better planner for both business and personal travel. Find more information on traffic safety, or follow @NIOSH_MVSafety on Twitter for daily #PlanAhead tips.

NIOSH and Partners Develop Design Guidelines for Ambulance Patient Compartments

NIOSH research on ambulance design was cited in a September 22 announcement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which also was posted on EurekAlert!, a science news website. The release explained that to maximize safety for paramedics and other first responders without compromising effectiveness of ambulances, NIOSH, NIST, , and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) developed design guidelines for ambulance patient compartments.

NIOSH Research Contributes to Proposed EPA Revised Regulations

On August 24, the Environmental Protection Agency published a Federal Register announcement on revised regulations for certification and training of pesticide applicators to ensure the competent use of “restricted use” pesticides. These are pesticides that can be purchased by competent pesticide applicators only. This is the first major revision to this regulation in 40 years. The EPA stated that the proposed new requirements would provide health benefits to pesticide applicators, agricultural workers, and the public. Findings from SENSOR-Pesticides, a NIOSH program led by Geoff Calvert of NIOSH, are extensively cited in the announcement as justification for the revisions. These findings provide the crucial evidence showing that the benefits of the revised regulations outweigh the costs. For more information, contact Geoff Calvert at

NIOSH Study Finds Measures Lacking for Compounding Antineoplastic Drugs

A new NIOSH research article found that recommended safe handling practices for compounding antineoplastic (chemotherapy) drugs are not always followed in healthcare settings. This study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and is available online. This paper presents findings on current engineering and administrative control practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and barriers to using recommended PPE for nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians as they prepare antineoplastic drugs.

NIOSH Awards 26 Cooperative Agreements to States for Worker Injury and Illness Surveillance

In September, NIOSH announced funding for cooperative agreements with 26 organizations for occupational injury and illness surveillance. The awards include renewals for 23 previously funded state programs, and new awards to three additional state programs.

Celebrating Health Literacy Month!

Did you know October is Health Literacy Month? Learn more about health literacy, and find resources and training links on health literacy, plain language and more on the web.

NIOSH Seeks Director Western States Division

NIOSH has opened the search for Director of the Western States Division (WSD) based in Spokane, Washington. The WSD is a geographically diverse Division comprised of staff in Spokane, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and Denver, Colorado. The WSD will conduct research and provide technical assistance for the prevention of work-related illness, injury, and death, with an emphasis on the special occupational safety and health needs in the western United States. The vacancy announcement is opened through October 9, 2015.

NIOSH Researcher Interviewed by “Marketplace” Radio

Kyla Retzer of NIOSH was interviewed on America Public Media’s “Marketplace” radio program for a segment about risks of serious injury and death in oil and gas extraction. The segment aired on Sept. 18.

NIOSH’s Dr. Mark Hoover Featured Speaker for Nanoinformatics Webinar

Dr. Mark Hoover a NIOSH senior research scientist, will present at the upcoming webinar, “Introduction to Nanoinformatics” hosted by the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative. Designed for non-specialists, the webinar will introduce basic nanoinformatics concepts, as well as the benefits and applications of nanoinformatics. The webinar will take place Friday, October 2, from noon to 1 pm EDT. Register for the event

Join Us For A Occupational Research in Motor Vehicle Safety Webinar Nov. 10

NIOSH and the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research will host the Occupational Research in Motor Vehicle Safety webinar from 3-4 p.m. EST on November 10. The webinar will feature motor vehicle research presented at the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium held in May. It will focus on national and international research in occupational road safety, including organizational-level approaches to influencing driver behaviors and performance, a naturalistic driving intervention study to reduce risky driving behaviors among truck drivers, and use of statewide data to examine occupational motor vehicle injuries. Register online here.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Kaori Fujishiro receives 2014 Best Paper Award                                

NIOSH researcher Kaori Fujishiro and coauthors received the 2014 Best Paper Award from the Journal of Organizational Behavior. Kaori and Annekatrin Hoppe, a professor at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, shared the first authorship. They received the recognition at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management on August 10th in Vancouver, British Columbia. The award paper is “Workplace Racial/Ethnic Composition, Job Satisfaction, and Low Back Health Among Warehouse Workers”—J Organ Behav 35(2):172–193.

Patricia Sullivan Awarded EPA Gold Medal for Exceptional Service

NIOSH researcher Patricia Sullivan received the EPA’s “Gold Medal for Exceptional Service” for her work with EPA in establishing the science base needed to inform decisions on managing risk from environmental exposure to Libby amphibole asbestos. The award recognized members of a cross-agency team for exceptional scientific leadership and innovation in developing the “Libby Amphibole Asbestos Toxicological Review,” a risk assessment that included exposure-response analysis using data on a NIOSH cohort of asbestos-exposed Libby, MT vermiculite workers. The Gold Medal is an EPA honor award, and it is given for distinguished service of major significance to environmental improvement.                                                                  

News from Our Partners

Washington State’s SHARP Program Develops Format to Share Research Results

The Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has developed a new one-page, easy-to-read publication format to share key findings of published SHARP research. See SHARP’s recent research findings on such topics as job organization and worker health, acid burns in car and truck wash workers, worker perceptions of musculoskeletal injury risk, and injury prevention in the services sector.

Georgia Work-related Pesticide Exposures Data Summary                      

The Georgia Department of Public Health Occupational Health Surveillance Program has created a work-related pesticide exposures data summary, using data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the Georgia Poison Center. The summary characterizes work-related pesticide-associated illnesses and injuries reported in Georgia during 2006–2011, and it includes information on case demographics, type of substance, route of exposure, and exposure effects.

OSHA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Rule Clarifying Employers’ Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Injuries, Illnesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is extending the deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule that clarifies an employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness. The comment due date has been extended to October 28, 2015. The proposed rule was published in the July 29, 2015, issue of the Federal Register. Members of the public can submit written comments on the proposed rule at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for submission details.

FACE Reports

Orchard Laborer Dies after Being Struck and Run Over by Dump Trailer— Washington

An orchard laborer was killed when he was struck and run over by a dump trailer that became unhitched from a tractor. Factors that led to his death included that the tractor-trailer hitch ball was not the proper size for the trailer coupler, and that the safety chains and other safety equipment were not properly connected or not functioning.

Two Propane Gas Supplier Workers Electrocuted when Boom Truck Crane’s Boom Contacts 7,200 Volt Overhead Power Line—Washington

A propane service technician and a material handler were electrocuted at a propane gas supplier’s tank storage yard when a truck crane’s boom contacted an overhead power line. Factors that led to the death of the workers included the lack of a site survey and safety program, and the crane not having safety features intended to prevent or minimize the risk of electrocution.

Log Truck Driver Dies When Struck by Logs Being Loaded onto Trailer—Washington

A log truck driver was killed when he was struck and crushed by logs being loaded by a grapple loader onto the trailer of his truck. Factors that led to the death of the driver included the lack of any visual or radio communication, and the failure to use high-visibility safety vests.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Career Fire Fighter Struck and Killed Working a Crash Scene on Ice Covered Interstate Overpass—Texas                                                                

On February 10, 2014, a 40-year-old male career fire fighter died after being struck by a civilian’s vehicle and falling 56 feet from an overpass. He was one of four fire fighters working a crash scene involving multiple vehicles on an ice-covered interstate bridge and overpass. NIOSH investigators identified weather conditions (ice on roadway), scene/traffic management, operating in unprotected zone (situational awareness), and an inattentive motorist among the contributing factors that led to the fatality.

r2p Corner

New Agreement Between NIOSH and the International Safety Equipment Association

Recently, NIOSH and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) signed an agreement to research the ability of protective helmets used by construction workers to prevent work-related traumatic brain injury. The NIOSH and ISEA research agreement utilizes research professionals at NIOSH and products provided by ISEA member companies. For more information, contact Christopher Pan at (304) 285-5978, or

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Recommendations Provided to an Electrical Supply Company                 

Although theelectrical supply company had begun implementing safety programs, investigators noted improper storage of chemicals, inadequate exhaust and ventilation systems, and they were concerned that employees took home soldering work. Recommendations included compliance with OSHA Hazard Communication requirements, improving ventilation, and ending take-home work.

Evaluation of Indoor Environmental Quality in a Public Elementary School     

HHE Program investigators identified problems with the school’s ventilation system, but they found no widespread mold or water damage. Concerns about mold exposure were largely triggered by inappropriate medical testing. Recommendations included renovating the ventilation system and stopping blood and urine tests for mold and toxins.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

World Trade Center Health Program: Addition of New-Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Acute Traumatic Injury to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions
The notice was posted on September 11. Comments must be received by October 26.

A Vapor Containment Performance Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazard Drugs
The notice was posted on September 8. Electronic or written comments must be received by November 9.

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

Call for Abstracts

2016 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
Proposals must be submitted by Friday, October 23,

International Conference on Occupational Health and Safety 2016
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is November 1,

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

2016 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
March 20–22, 2016, San Antonio, TX

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
April 11–14, 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, 22 years ago . . .

NIOSH urged immediate action to prevent workplace homicide. From 1980 to 1989, NIOSH documented 7,603 homicides in U.S. workplaces. At that time, taxicab driver/chauffeur had the highest rate of workplace homicide. More recently, more than 700 workplace homicides occurred each year from 1992 to 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupations with the highest rates were sales and related jobs; protective services; and transportation and material moving services. To learn more about preventing workplace homicide, visit NIOSH Workplace Safety & Health Topics: Occupational Violence. To read the NIOSH Alert, go to Request for assistance in preventing homicide in the workplace. To read the NIOSH Update from 1993, go to: NIOSH Urges Immediate Action to Prevent Workplace Homicide.