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NIOSH eNews – November 2015

Volume 13 Number 7 (November 2015)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH National Center for Productive Aging and Work Seeks to Understand the Issues and Implications of an Aging Workforce

As we move further into the 21st century, converging demographic, economic, and cultural trends have made population aging one of the most important issues facing U.S. workers and businesses. In this context, however, far less attention has been paid to the safety and health needs of older workers. Today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 American workers is over 65. In 2020, 1 in 4 American workers will be over 55. The increased and projected labor participation rates of older workers show the substantial role of older workers in the workforce today and in the future. At this critical juncture, forming the NIOSH National Center for Productive Aging and Work is more relevant today than ever before.

The new virtual Center is hosted by the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health®. It focuses on worker safety for all ages, promotes their lifelong well-being, and advances the concept of productive aging. This concept calls for providing a safe and healthy work environment for all workers and creating work conditions that allow workers of every age to function optimally and thrive—without disabling work injuries and illnesses. This should begin on their first day on any job and continue until the last day before they fully retire. It also recognizes the benefits that accrue to organizations as they retain the institutional knowledge and extensive skills of long-term, older workers.

At this early stage, the Center recognizes how important it is to form and foster collaboration and to align its mission with stakeholder needs. Therefore, a vital part of the Center’s mission is to help the Institute to internally collaborate on age-related research. The Institute also partners with other government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academia, labor, professional associations, and industry. Internal and external collaboration provides skills and knowledge that complement those available within the Center and the Institute. Engaging with stakeholders helps translate NIOSH research findings into relevant and useful guidance. Stakeholders cooperate and participate with the Center to carry out effective research, translation, and dissemination activities that apply to real-world settings.

We all have a stake in better understanding how aging relates to the experience of work. Therefore, I invite researchers from across the Institute and external stakeholders to collaborate with the Center and help set its direction.

The Center seeks partnerships with other organizations, researchers, stakeholders, and sector members to explore research opportunities or to help the Center identify and develop materials to serve an age-diverse workforce. To participate, please contact the Center co-directors, Dr. Jim Grosch and Dr. Juliann Scholl, at

Visit the center’s new website to learn more about the National Center for Productive Aging and Work.

NIOSH Helps Fund Workplace Safety and Health Projects for Low- and Middle-income Countries

The National Institutes of Health and other U.S. (including NIOSH) and Canadian partners are investing $20.9 million over 5 years to establish seven regional research and training centers in low- and middle-income countries. The Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) Hubs will consist of multidisciplinary groups of researchers and partner organizations collaborating on common research and training topics that address environmental or occupational health issues.

NIOSH Researcher to Present at Occupational Risk Prevention

At the upcoming International Conference on Occupational Risk Prevention, NIOSH senior scientist Vladimir Murashov, PhD, will discuss World Health Organization guidelines on protecting workers from potential risks of manufactured nanomaterials. The conference will be Nov. 23–26, 2015, in Santiago, Chile. In a video on the conference website, Dr. Murashov shares what he will present at the meeting.

NIOSH to Cohost Motor Vehicle Safety Webinar

NIOSH and the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research will cohost a webinar on Occupational Research in Motor Vehicle Safety from 3 to 4 p.m. EST on November 10. This webinar will feature motor vehicle research presented at the 2015 National Occupa­tional Injury Research Symposium. It will focus on research in occupational road safety, including organizational-level approaches to influence 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 here.

Help for Small Businesses

Do you own or manage a business? The NIOSH Small Business Resource Guide provides plans, tools, tips, and information from across the web on how to keep your workers safe and well from job-related injury and illness while managing time and cost investments. This guide is intended to help small business owners, employers, and managers.

NIOSH/AIHA Kick-off ‘Safety Matters’ Initiative

NIOSH and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) are launching a new initiative called Safety Matters. The program’s goal is to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to participate in safe and healthy work environments throughout their working lives. Safety Matters is a free, 1-hour interactive teaching module and slide presentation for students in grades 7 through 12. Volunteers can use the materials to do outreach at schools to build awareness of occupational safety and health. Contact Rebecca Guerin, NIOSH, for more information.

Noise Hazards in Construction: Infographics Available

NIOSH and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, have created a series of infographics that drive home the danger of noise-induced hearing loss in the construction industry. The infographics were developed through the OSHA-NIOSH-CPWR Research to Practice (r2p) working group. The infographics cover the risk of hearing loss, steps to prevent hearing loss, and the benefits of buying quieter equipment. They use information from the NIOSH Buy Quiet initiative and data from CPWR’s The Construction Chart Book. They can quickly and easily be used in websites, social media posts, slideshows, and other materials. The infographics are available from NIOSH through the Buy Quiet website, the Hearing Loss Prevention website, and through CPWR.

President Obama Recognizes USPHS Ebola Service

On September 24, President Obama presented the first Presidential Unit Citation to the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. President Obama recognized the Commissioned Corps work as a uniformed service working on the frontlines of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Commissioned Corps officers at NIOSH, alongside their civilian counterparts, have participatedin the Ebola response both domestically and internationally as a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). NIOSH officers have served by deploying domestically on hospital assessment teams and quarantine stations, and from their respective agency duty stations. NIOSH officers also have deployed as safety officers internationally on CDC infection control, epidemiology, health education, and vaccine teams. They have deployed as technical consultants to several countries in West Africa and as participants on the U.S. Public Health Service’s Monrovia Medical Unit mission to Liberia.

Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention Webinar Nov 3

On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, will host a free webinar with the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health® “Advancing Total Worker Health®: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls at Work and Beyond.” The webinar will discuss the major causes of slip and fall incidents; how to prevent slips, trips, and falls at work and home; and the critical role cleaning and maintenance plays in promoting safe walking surfaces. The webinar will take place at 9 a.m. Pacific / 11 a.m. Central / 12 p.m. Eastern. Click here for more information and to register.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

New Flag Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

Congratulations to NIOSH Deputy Director, RADM Margaret Kitt, who is one of several new flag officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. As the senior-ranking officers in the Commissioned Corps, flag officers exemplify the core values for which Commissioned Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service are known. They provide executive-level leadership within the department and to the agencies to which they are assigned. Flag officers carry the title of Assistant Surgeon General. The Surgeon General and the Corps rely on them to support special initiatives and exhibit the highest caliber of public health leadership.

News from Our Partners

Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center Report

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center’s NIOSH-funded Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program produced a report, “Foreman Falls into Running Auger after Stepping on Door Panel with Broken Door Interlocks.” The report focuses on a foreman who stepped on a door panel with broken door interlocks and fell into a running auger. The report was disseminated to 2,420 employers and published in EHS Today in August 2015.

Preventing Worker Drownings

The California Department of Public Health has produced a new digital story (short video) highlighting best practices for preventing worker drownings. The video details how José, a 45-year-old lake maintenance worker, drowned after falling from a boat while removing weeds and algae from a golf course lake. The video, which is available in English and Spanish, explains how to prevent a similar incident. To view this video, please visit the California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program’s digital story website.

FACE Reports

Laborer Compressed Between the Top Rail of a Scissor Lift Guardrail and a Steel Beam— Massachusetts

A laborer was fatally asphyxiated when his head and neck were compressed between a beam and the top rail of a scissor lift. The laborer was working from a raised scissor lift to secure a large tarp. The tarp became caught on the scissor lift’s joystick control, causing the lift to rise up and resulting in the fatal compression.

Temporary Worker Fell From a Fixed Ladder Inside a Building Being Renovated— Massachusetts

A laborer employed by a staffing agency and placed with a commercial builder/property manager fell from a fixed ladder. The victim was standing on the fixed ladder while helping a superintendent place filters on a roof, when he fell about 17 feet to the concrete floor.

Cell Tower Technician Dies After Antenna Array Falls and Decapitates Him—Kentucky

A tower technician was 242 feet in the air on a cellular tower performing maintenance. The supporting shackle suffered a catastrophic failure causing the cable to snap. The antenna array crashed down, striking three points on the tower, and then the cables decapitated the technician and amputated his right arm.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fire Fighter Suffers Heart Attack During Training and Later Dies—Kansas

A career fire fighter participated in air management training as part of the fire department respiratory protection program. During the training, the fire fighter told his battalion chief that he waswinded and his chest was hurting. The fire fighter was transported to the local hospital. While in the cardiac catheterization lab, the fire fighter suffered cardiac arrest and died.

Captain Suffers Heart Attack During Fire Suppression and Dies Two Days Later—Texas

A career captain was dispatched to a house fire.After working on-scene for about 10 minutes, the captain exited the house, remarking that he could not breathe and was having chest pains.He became unresponsive, and he lost his pulse and stopped breathing. Paramedics provided advanced life support on scene and on the way to the hospital. Despite 24 hours of life support, the captain suffered irreversible anoxic brain damage. In consultation with the family, life support was removed.

Shift Safety Officer Falls Through Hole in Floor into Basement of Vacant Row House and Dies from Smoke Inhalation—Maryland

A shift safety officer responded to a fire in a vacant row house.He entered the adjoining vacant row house to check on the interior conditions and fell through a hole in the floor into the smoke-filled basement.Several hours passed before he was determined to be missing. Crews returned to the vacant row house and found the shift safety officer, who had died.

r2p Corner

NIOSH Renews Partnership Agreement with NFPA and FPRF

NIOSH recently renewed for 5 years its partnership agreement with the National Fire Protection Association and its Fire Protection Research Foundation. The agreement promotes partnering, cooperating, and coordinating activities that involve the three organizations. The partnership focuses on emergency responder protective clothing and equipment. This includes personal protective equipment for response emergencies such as fire, technical rescue, hazardous materials, emergency medical, and special operations. It also includes personal protective equipment for responding to terrorism incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive hazards (CBRNE). The partnership applies to developing standards for emergency responder organizations and personnel concerning the safety, deployment, operations, and protection of emergency responders. For more information, contactWilliam Haskell at, or (978) 470-1211.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Noise and Metal Exposure Recommendations Provided to an Orthopedic Implant Manufacturer

Although an improved ventilation system lowered airborne cobalt levels, NIOSH found surfaces contaminated with metals, an air sample of hexavalent chromium over half the NIOSH recommended limit, and noise exposures that exceeded both the OSHA and NIOSH limits. NIOSH recommended the company improve engineering controls, start a hearing conservation program, train employees to prevent exposures, and have employees medically evaluated if they have persistent work-related symptoms. For more information click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

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.

Occupational Safety and Health Program Elements in the Wholesale Retail Trade Sector —Extension
The notice was posted on October 5. Written comments should be received within 30 days.

Call for Abstracts

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

2016 International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference
Deadline for submission is November 9.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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 11–16, 2016, Jacksonville, FL

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

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

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

“This Month in History”

This month, 107 years ago . . .

On November 28, 1908, a coal mine explosion killed 154 miners in Marianna, PA. The following November, a fire in a coal mine in Cherry, IL, killed 259 miners. Ultimately, these and other mine disasters culminated in the 1910 Organic Act (Public Law 61-179) establishing the U.S. Bureau of Mines to help improve safety and protect mine workers. Eighty-five years later, Congress closed the bureau and transferred its functions to other federal agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 1997. To learn more about the history of the U.S. mining-safety program, visit History of the Mining Program.