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NIOSH eNews – April 2017

Volume 14 Number 12 (April 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Keeping Workers Safe on the Road

Millions of workers drive or ride in a motor vehicle as part of their jobs. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related injury deaths in the United States, accounting for 23,865 deaths from 2003–2015. These deaths have an impact on workers, their families, businesses, and communities. In 2013 alone, motor vehicle crashes at work cost U.S. employers $25 billion—$65,000 per nonfatal injury and $671,000 per death.

Crash risk affects workers in all industries and occupations, whether employees drive tractor-trailers, cars, pickup trucks, or emergency vehicles and whether driving is a primary or occasional part of the job. NIOSH is the only part of the U.S. federal government whose mission encompasses prevention of work-related motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries for all worker populations. Other federal agencies have responsibilities and interest in motor vehicle safety for specific worker groups (e.g., truckers, fire fighters, law enforcement officers). The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety’s goal is to ensure that those who work in or near vehicles come home safely at the end of their workday.

The Center recently assessed progress on its 2014–2018 strategic plan and sought public comment to guide future directions. Feedback will guide priorities through 2018 and inform the next strategic plan. A full midcourse review report is now available for download.

Other additions to the Center’s portfolio include:

  • Behind the Wheel at Work: This quarterly eNewsletter, launched in December 2015, connects subscribers to subject-matter experts, exclusive interviews, research updates, practical tips on workplace driving, and links to NIOSH and partner resources.
  • CDC Communications: NIOSH worked with CDC to create CDC Vital Signs: Trucker Safety. With the CDC Foundation, the Center developed CDC Business Pulse: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work, an interactive resource to help employers prevent work-related crashes through information on the human and economic impact of workplace crashes. Forbes featured this resource in a February 2017 guest op-ed by NIOSH’s Dr. Stephanie Pratt.
  • Collaborative Road Safety Communications: The Center works with other NIOSH programs and external partners—such as the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety and National Safety Council (NSC)—on activities ranging from blog posts to Twitter chats to cross-promotion of resources. For example, at NSC’s request, the Center developed a blog post for explaining the value of multimedia materials available on that site for educating workers about advanced safety features on their vehicles.
  • Fact Sheet: The Center published Older Drivers in the Workplace: How Employers and Workers Can Prevent Crashes.
  • GIF: To reach audiences with engaging content, the Center developed NIOSH’s first animated GIF that is specific to distracted driving.
  • Infographic: This infographic answers the question: Why does workplace motor vehicle safety matter? It covers information that is important for human resources or safety professionals to make a business case for workplace motor vehicle safety programs.

For information about the Center’s work, visit our Motor Vehicle Safety at Work webpage.

New Report Says Many Workers Get Too Little Sleep

Too little sleep is more common in some occupations than in others. There are significant differences in short sleep duration—less than seven hours a night—among occupational groups, according to a CDC study published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This is the first study to evaluate short sleep duration in more than 90 detailed occupation groups and across multiple states. Learn more.

NIOSH Announces Free, Confidential Screenings for Coal Miners

In March, NIOSH began once again offering a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program. The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease in coal miners caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust. Learn more.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month 

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety is recognizing Distracted Driving Awareness Month throughout April. Access the Center’s recently updated Distracted Driving at Work webpage, which now includes a Spanish version of our distracted driving GIF to use on Twitter. Follow @NIOSH_MVSafety on Twitter for safe-driving tips.

Safety Pays in Mining

NIOSH’s new, free web tool—Safety Pays in Mining—offers mining companies information on the cost of injury claims, as well as a few suggestions on how that same money might be spent in other ways. Preventing injuries saves workers from pain and disability, but it also helps companies save money that could be put toward other expenditures. Safety Pays in Mining displays not only distributions of direct costs for specific injuries, but also an estimate of indirect costs stemming from the incident, including overtime for other workers to fill an injured worker’s role, training costs for a replacement worker, and time spent using administrative resources to address the injury. Seeing the cost of injuries spelled out in dollars may help companies see that in mining, investing in safety pays.

NIOSH Wants Your Feedback!

NIOSH announces the availability of a draft web-based database called PPE-Info for public comment. NIOSH developed the database in 2012 and is requesting the public’s comments to help update its database. Comments are due by April 13.

NIOSH Seeks Comment on Draft Document Describing its Proposed Occupational Exposure Banding Process

NIOSH announces the availability of a draft Current Intelligence Bulletin entitled The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process: Guidance for the Evaluation of Chemical Hazards for public comment. NIOSH is seeking comments on the draft document until June 13. A public meeting will be held to discuss the document on Tuesday, May 23. This is a new tool to protect workers from workplace chemicals without occupational exposure limits (OELs). Currently, the rate at which new chemicals are being introduced into commerce significantly outpaces OEL development, creating a need for guidance on the risk on thousands of chemicals that lack evidence-based exposure limits. This NIOSH docket, including the draft document and more information about the public meeting, is available at here. The docket, for the submission of public comments, is available at Enter CDC-2017-0028 in the search field and click “Search.”

NIOSH Photo Published, African American Coking Workers

African American Coking Workers

NIOSH is honored to have an image (shown at right) of black coke oven workers published in The Journal of African American History. The Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies provided the photo, which appeared in “Gateway to Hell”: African American Coking Workers, Racial Discrimination, and the Struggle against Occupational Cancer, by Alan V. Derickson. Derickson, professor of Labor Studies and History at Penn State University. Derickson sharpens focus on the history of mid-twentieth-century African American steel workers who, due to racial discrimination, were disproportionately consigned to topside coke oven work and thus disproportionately experienced workplace economic and health and safety inequalities, including occupational cancers. Derickson’s original research brings to the forefront black coke workers’ leadership for positive changes, including their crucial role in the creation of the NIOSH Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Coke Oven Emissions, 1973.

NIOSH Releases New Topic Page

NIOSH posted a new topic page on occupational exposure banding in conjunction with the public release of the draft NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin: Guidance for the Evaluation of Chemical Hazards and the Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the draft document. This topic page provides useful resources and information about the proposed occupational exposure banding process. The webpage is available at:

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Basic and Applied Sciences Professional Advisory Group Senior Officer of the Year Award
Congratulations to CDR Ryan Hill, U.S. Public Health Service, for receiving the 2017 Basic and Applied Sciences Professional Advisory Group Senior Officer of the Year Award. The award will be presented at the 2017USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wednesday June 7.


Manufacturing Seminar
On March 15, the NIOSH Manufacturing Sector and the Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies co-hosted the seminar Transformational Power of Emerging Technology for Health & Safety, Environmental Protection and Sustainability. The invited presenters were Mr. R. Mukund and Ms. Amanda Petzinger of Gensuite LLC, and they addressed the opportunities and challenges faced by the manufacturing industry from the surge of new technologies, such as wearables, artificial intelligence, QR technologies, and virtual/augmented reality. Contact Thais Morata for more information about the NORA Manufacturing Council.

Traumatic Injury Prevention Council Agenda
The Traumatic Injury Prevention Council held its third meeting on March 3. Council members worked to revise eight draft strategic objectives and descriptions that workgroups had completed in advance of the meeting. The next step is to distribute a draft agenda document for council members’ review and input. Contact Christine Schuler for more information.

News from Our Partners

Louisiana Department of Health’s Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance Program A report characterizing work-related fatal injuries occurring in Louisiana from 2015 and 2016 was recently completed by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance Program. Louisiana has one of the highest work-related fatality rates in the country, with an annual rate significantly greater than the U.S. rate. To provide accurate and timely fatality data, a multisource mortality surveillance system was established to capture and track case reports from death certificates, OSHA FatCat, and publicly available data sources (e.g., news articles, police websites).

Minnesota Occupational Health Indicators
The Minnesota Department of Health Occupational Health Surveillance Program has summarized the available occupational health indicators for Minnesota into the Occupational Health Indicators Report. The report provides data beginning with the year 2000 through the most recent year available, allowing for discussion of the trend.

California Workers Still Exposed to Lead at Harmful Levels
A recent report from the California Department of Public Health presents data on adults with elevated blood lead levels (BLLs)—now defined by health agencies as 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter (μg/dL) and higher. Thousands of California workers are still exposed to lead at harmful levels and are at increased risk for adverse health effects. California is one of approximately 30 states that conducts BLL surveillance and participates in the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program coordinated by NIOSH. Click here for more about ABLES.

r2p Corner

New Total Worker Health Affiliated Agreements
NIOSH recently signed new collaborative agreements with the National Security Agency and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The purpose of these agreements is to engage in mutually beneficial activities to advance the goals of the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health® and promote the safety, health, and well-being of workers. Academic institutions, labor organizations, non-profit associations, public sector entities, and similar organizations interested in becoming an Affiliate may contact

New Total Worker Health Alliance in Oregon
Three organizations recently signed an agreement to expand the knowledge and application of the NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) principles. The organizations are Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health & Sciences University, which houses the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC), one of six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health; SAIF, a TWH affiliate and a not-for-profit, state-chartered workers’ compensation company that covers almost half of all policies in the state; and Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), within the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), which enforces the state’s occupational safety and health regulations and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. Academic institutions, labor organizations, nonprofit associations, public sector entities, and similar organizations interested in becoming an affiliate may contact

FACE Reports

Construction Laborer Killed in Trench Collapse While Taking Grade Measurements—Kentucky
A laborer was assisting with digging a trench along a roadway. The laborer entered the trench, which was lacking cave-in protection, to take grade measurements. As the laborer was taking measurements, the soil shifted, and he was buried beneath the soil. The laborer died at the scene.

Teen Laborer Rides on Side of Forklift, Falls While jumping, and is Run Over by Rear Tire—Kentucky
A 17-year-old teen laborer (the victim) and a 19-year-old laborer were ending their work day at an agricultural distribution center. While the 19-year-old laborer was operating a forklift, the victim rode on the side, and he jumped off to open a gate while the forklift was moving. The victim’s foot caught in the forklift’s back wheel guard and he fell. The victim died from his injuries.

Seasonal Lawn Mower Operator Crushed and Dies after Lawn Mower Rolls Over on a 30-degree Slope—Kentucky
A lawn mower operator was killed when he was involved in a lawn mower rollover incident. The operator was mowing horizontally on a hill with a 30-degree slope when his mower slid down the hill and rolled onto him. The operator was pinned beneath the mower and died.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Career Fire Fighter/Engineer Dies after Falling Through Translucent Corrugated Roof Panel While Searching for Fire Extension—Colorado
A career fire fighter/engineer was critically injured after falling through a translucent corrugated roof panel while sizing up the roof at a commercial structure. The roof was not well illuminated and the translucent panel blended with the rest of the roof. He fell onto a concrete floor. Six days after discharge from the hospital, he suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest and died.

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies after Inhaling Super-heated Gases at a Residential Structure Fire—New York
A volunteer fire fighter (lieutenant in rank) died after inhaling super-heated gases in the basement at a residential structure fire. Shortly after entering the basement, his crew realized the fire fighter was missing. The lieutenant was located, and as he was dragged outside, he became unresponsive. He was transported to a hospital and was pronounced dead.

Career Fire Fighter Dies From an Out-of-air Emergency in an Apartment Building Fire—Connecticut
A career fire fighter died while conducting interior fire-fighting operations in a residential apartment fire. The fire fighter became separated from his crew as they attempted to exit the structure. The fire fighter was found lying with his foot caught on furniture. He was transported to the hospital and was pronounced dead.

Sergeant Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death While on Duty—Michigan
A fire department sergeant working a 24-hour shift responded to a call in the afternoon. Upon returning to the fire station, he became ill and remained there for the rest of the shift. When a crew arrived the next day, they found the sergeant unresponsive. The sergeant was pronounced dead.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program

Evaluation of Metalworking Fluid Exposure and Dermatitis at a Gun Barrel Manufacturing Facility
NIOSH investigators found a statistically significant association between skin exposure to coolant and work-related dermatitis. Some employees reported work-related, asthma-like symptoms. Employees with work-related respiratory symptoms were exposed to airborne metal working fluid (MWF) levels known to cause or exacerbate respiratory symptoms. We recommended limiting skin and respiratory exposure to MWF by improving MWF mist control, changing manual handling practices, and improving access to and consistent use of gloves. For more information click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

A Performance Test Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used during Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs; Extension of Comment Period
The notice was posted on December 8, 2016. Written electronic or written comments must be received by June 7.

Survey of Engineered Nanomaterial Occupational Safety and Health Practices—New
The notice was posted on February 10. Written comments must be received on or before April 11.

Factors Influencing the Transmission of Influenza—New
The notice was posted on March 2. Written comments must be received on or before May 1.

Pulmonary Function Testing Course Approval Program—Revision
The notice was posted on March 2. Written comments must be received on or before May 1.

Request for Nominations of Candidates to Serve on the Mine Safety and Health Research Advisory Committee (MSHRAC)
The notice was posted on March 3. Nomination materials must be postmarked by April 30.

Health Risks to Workers Associated With Occupational Exposures to Peracetic Acid; Request for Information
The notice was posted on March 7. Electronic or written comments must be received by June 5.

Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The notice was posted on March 9. Meeting is open to the public 8:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m., EDT, April 12, and available by webcast.

Proposed Revised Definitions for the Levels of Evidence for NIOSH Skin Notation Profiles; Request for Comment
The notice was posted on March 9. Comments must be submitted on or before April 10.

Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations: Survey of Engineered Nanomaterial Occupational Safety and Health Practices; Extension of Public Comment Period
The notice was posted on March 14. Written comments must be received on or before May 11.

Draft Current Intelligence Bulletin: The Occupational Exposure Banding Process: Guidance for the Evaluation of Chemical Hazards; Notice of Public Meeting; Request for Comments
The notice was posted on March 15. Electronic or written comments must be received by June 13.

Anthropometric Information on Law Enforcement Officers—New
The notice was posted on March 16. Written comments must be received on or before May 15.

World Trade Center Health Program; Request for Nominations of Scientific Peer Reviewers of Proposed Additions to the List of WTC-related Health Conditions
The notice was posted on March 22. Nominations must be submitted postmarked or electronically received by February 1, 2019.

“This Month in History”

Thirty-nine years ago, NIOSH published recommendations for workplace exposure to hydroquinone, which can cause eye and skin irritation, impaired breathing, dizziness, nausea, headache, and even death if ingested. Hydroquinone also may increase the risk of cancer. NIOSH recommends using protective clothing and equipment when using hydroquinone in the workplace. More information is available at NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics: Hydroquinone.