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NIOSH eNews – August 2016

Volume 14 Number 4 (August 2016)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Innovating a NIOSH Classic

Since its first printing in 1978, the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards  continues to be the most popular NIOSH document. This year, a new product—the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards Mobile Web Application—transforms the guide into an interactive mobile app, making its chemical data more accessible than ever and easier for the user to customize for a wide variety of tasks. The mobile app version answers a growing demand from NIOSH stakeholders to provide a NIOSH-sanctioned mobile product that accurately presents the Pocket Guide information. In May 2016, NIOSH introduced the mobile app version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition in Baltimore, Maryland.

The mobile Pocket Guide is customizable and easy to use. A few finger taps on a screen yields data on 677 chemicals and potential hazards. Users can tailor the guide to suit their individual needs and preferences. The “Preferences” function allows users to customize the app to show only the data fields pertinent to the work being performed. The “Favorites” function gives easy access to the most-needed chemicals, allowing users to mark them as “favorites.”

The NIOSH Pocket Guide gives descriptive information, recommended exposure limits, protective measures, and emergency recommendations for 677 chemicals commonly found in the work environment. Workers, employers, occupational health professionals, and first responders use the paper version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to get information about workplace chemicals, for routine work and during emergencies. The Pocket Guide clearly presents key information on chemicals, such the physical description, the chemical and physical properties of each chemical, potential routes of exposure, and signs and symptoms of exposure. It also informs users on steps to take to prevent exposure to the chemical and emergency procedures to implement if someone becomes exposed to the chemical.

As the Internet and other communication technology make specialized information publically available, more people use mobile applications to access this information. Mobile applications help users by allowing them to personalize information and resources for use anywhere.

NIOSH saw the demand for a web app version of the Pocket Guide and developed new product technology to meet that demand. The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards Mobile Web Application is a sustainable product that works on virtually every modern mobile device, using the device’s web browser. Users can download the web app and use it offline, like familiar mobile apps that are made specifically for mobile device platforms such as Apple’s iOS or Android. The web app is like a mini-website, and it does not require expensive or time-consuming programming to work on different devices. This approach will allow NIOSH to develop similar products faster and they will cost less to develop, disseminate, and maintain.

The Pocket Guide format has evolved over the years as communication technology changed. The original printed NIOSH Pocket Guide was 191 pages—and at 4¼ inches by 8 inches, it neatly fits into the average pocket. The current book is 424 pages and measures 3 inches by 7 inches. Though the guide is available on the NIOSH website, the printed version remains highly popular and is in demand at conferences, meetings, and through the NIOSH-INFO public information service. Today, it is available in print, on CD-ROM, in electronic format on the NIOSH website, and now as a web app. We believe this availability in diverse forms meets our customers’ expectations for a product tailored to their individual needs, which may vary from user to user. Like other providers of information, we’re in a highly fluid time when no single form of dissemination will serve everyone equally well.

Download the free mobile NIOSH Pocket Guide app from the NIOSH website, where you will find instructions on how to install the app, as well as more information on the app’s features.

Be A Part of Buy Quiet

NIOSH is soliciting proposals for entities and organizations to host and maintain the Buy Quiet Web Tool and the Database of Noise Levels for Machinery and Power Tools through a non-exclusive license. Details about this opportunity can be found in the Federal Register or in NIOSH’s media advisory. Eligible organizations should contact Bryan Beamer by August 25.

Easy Access to NIOSH Engineering Control Solutions

NIOSH’s new Engineering Controls Database contains descriptions of controls, effectiveness summaries, and schematics of engineering control technology evaluated by NIOSH during laboratory and field investigations. Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was established in 1970, NIOSH has been developing valuable information, best practices, and guidance on engineering controls addressing a variety of workplace hazards. If you have any questions or need additional information, send an email to

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Remembers Thomas Waters

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society dedicates a special issue of Human Factors volume 58 to Thomas R. Waters, long-time NIOSH employee and posthumous recipient of the 2016 James P. Keogh Award for Outstanding Service in Occupational Safety and Health. Dr. Waters is credited with developing and validating the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (RNLE), the most commonly used ergonomic assessment tool in the world. Legislators in Spain, Italy, and Germany have all referenced the RNLE to create their own manual lifting guidelines. Three articles in this special issue explore modifications to the RNLE and two articles review Dr. Waters’ impact on safe patient handling research. Dr. Waters published a total of 27 articles on the RNLE and 27 articles on safe patient handling. You can read Dr. Waters’ publications on PubMed Central.

NIOSH July Research Rounds Available

Read the July issue of the NIOSH Research Rounds monthly electronic bulletin. Articles this month discuss research on reducing silica dust exposure for workers, primarily in construction, sandblasting, and mining; vibrations from hand-held riveting tools used by aircraft workers; and obstructed breathing issues in certain jobs.

RAND Releases Report on OSH Systematic Review

A new RAND report commissioned by NIOSH, Systematic Reviews for Occupational Safety and Health Questions—Resources for Evidence Synthesis, is now available. Evolving scientific standards and public policy increasingly require clear documentation and transparent approaches when using scientific evidence to develop guidance or recommendations. The RAND report provides practical guidance and resources for researchers interested in conducting systematic reviews. Essential steps such as (1) defining a policy question, (2) creating a protocol, (3) conducting a literature search, (4) documenting and assessing studies, (5) evaluating evidence, and (6) drawing conclusions are described in detail.

Calendar showing September 2016, with the 6th circled in red and the words "N95 Day!"

Mark Your Calendar! September 6 is N95 Day

NIOSH once again takes the lead of N95 day activities on September 6. Watch our website for information on N95 Day. Several states have already provided proclamations. A webinar is being planned, and an entire webpage devoted to respiratory protection resources will be unveiled. Don’t miss this year’s activities.

The 2016 Sammies People’s Choice Award Polls are Open!

Dr. Hongwei Hsiao, NIOSH Division of Safety Research Branch Chief, is a finalist for the Samael J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) for his research and design of a new generation of personal protective equipment and industrial apparatus that improves worker safety. While the category winners are chosen by an official selection committee, everyone can vote for their top picks. People’s Choice voting is open now and will close at 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 9, 2016. Cast your vote for Dr. Hsiao now!

Follow NIOSH On Instagram!

Go to @NIOSHUSA to follow NIOSH on Instagram! Here you will find photos, memes, infographics and various other updates on NIOSH communication products and occupational safety and health research.

NIOSH Cincinnati Summer Interns 2016

It’s summertime in Cincinnati, which means the interns are here! Each summer Cincinnati NIOSH supports interns from an alphabet soup of programs and from universities all over the U.S. The interns work on research projects throughout the divisions, gaining valuable research experience and knowledge of occupational safety and health, while contributing meaningful work on NIOSH projects. The infusion of new ideas and enthusiasm are welcome additions to the Cincinnati summer. This summer, interns are participating in projects at NIOSH as part of the NIOSH Collegiate Leaders in Occupational Safety and Health (CLOSH), Project Imhotep, Public Health Leadership and Learning Undergraduate Student Success (PLLUSS), Pathways, and University of Cincinnati Co-op program, among others.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Team’s Project CURE
Jennifer Tyrawski and Allison Tepper from NIOSH received an HHS Innovation Award for their work on Project CURE (Clear, Useful Reports for Everyone), which aims to improve the Health Hazard Evaluation reports so that all of the different audiences for the reports can easily find and understand the information they need. The project was part of HHS’ Ignite Accelerator Program, which is an internal innovation startup program for staff within the Department who want to improve the way their program, office, or agency works.

News from Our Partners

Wisconsin Health Services Responds to Elevated Blood Lead Levels
In March, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) became aware of what the department identified as elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥ 5 µg/dL among Fraser Shipyard workers in Superior, Wisconsin, who sought medical care. State health officials said they have identified over 100 Wisconsin residents with elevated BLLs  from the state’s Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) system and other surveillance reporting. DHS is coordinating an investigation with the Minnesota Department of Health and local public health agencies to determine the extent of the lead exposure and to prevent future exposures. Fact sheets have been developed for healthcare providers and workers and are available on the Wisconsin ABLES website.

OSHA Quarterly Update on New Compliance Assistance Resources

OSHA issued the following new or updated compliance assistance products in the third quarter of FY 2016. This report covers products issued in the third quarter of FY 2016 (April 1 to June 30) and includes OSHA compliance assistance products, materials developed by grantees under the Harwood Grant Program, products developed by OSHA’s Alliance Program participants, and NIOSH resources, including Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program reports and Workplace Solutions. For a listing of all new compliance assistance products issued by OSHA, see OSHA’s New Compliance Assistance Products web page.

LA BRFSS Report on Service Workers
The Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance Program in Louisiana, a NIOSH state partner for occupational health surveillance, released the Louisiana Service Worker Wellness Report. The report is based on a representative and random sample of the state’s adult population, collected through the 2013–2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System with the NIOSH-supported Industry and Occupation Module. The study found that Louisiana service workers, who were 17% of all employed workers in the state, reported significantly higher prevalence of poor health, chronic health conditions, and health risk behaviors than all other workers. Recommendations for prevention are provided. For more information email or call (504-568-8159) Jocelyn Lewis.

CPRW r2p Construction Consortium Update
In June, CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training held their annual r2p in Construction Consortium meeting in Cincinnati. There were approximately 80 participants, including representatives from CPWR, NIOSH, academia, industry, and labor. Some of the sessions highlighted during the meeting included advancing r2p through safety culture and climate, reducing ergonomic risks through research, social marketing in construction, and emerging hazards—does new technology create new risks? Each attendee received a copy of the recently developed CPWR Construction Safety and Health Social Marketing Toolkit. The meeting also included presentations and discussions on engineering controls. Much of the current focus on that topic is on how to reduce hazardous exposures in construction through focused efforts on the top portion of the hierarchy of controls that involves engineering and design. The meeting was supported by a cooperative agreement between NIOSH and CPWR.

r2p Corner

New Agreement Between NIOSH and Tucker Energy Services
NIOSH and Tucker Energy Services signed an agreement to collaborate on the testing of the NIOSH Mini-baghouse Retrofit Assembly. The NIOSH Mini-baghouse Retrofit Assembly is a patent-pending control designed and engineered as a “bolt on” aftermarket retrofit for the many thousands of sand movers currently operating at hydraulic fracturing sites in the United States and internationally. For more information, email Eric Esswein or Arthur Miller. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH.

FACE Reports

Crane Operator Killed by Falling Steel Beam—Oregon
A crane operator was killed when a 35-foot (5600-lb) H-beam fell and crushed the crane cab. The operator was struck in the head and died.

Mechanic Dies After Being Crushed Under Electrical Cabinet—New Jersey
A mechanic died after being crushed by a 993-pound electrical cabinet that tipped over. The mechanic died from compressional asphyxia combined with chest and cervical spine injuries.

Day Laborer, First Day on the Job, Struck and Killed by Backhoe Bucket—New Jersey
A Hispanic day laborer was killed after he was hit in the head by the bucket of a backhoe loader. The victim suffered blunt force head injuries and was pronounced dead.

Truck Driver Dies After Being Struck by Semi-trailer Truck in Trailer Lot of Customer Yard—Washington
A truck driver working outside his semi-trailer truck died when he was struck and crushed against his trailer by a semi-trailer truck that swung wide as it pulled out of an adjacent parking stall. The victim died at the scene.

Crane Operator Killed by Falling Steel Beam—Oregon
A crane operator was killed when a 35-foot (5600-lb) H-beam fell and crushed the crane cab. The operator was struck on the head and died.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

Career Fire Lieutenant Dies in Cluttered Apartment Fire on 19th Floor of High-rise Residential Apartment Building—New York
A career lieutenant was overcome by extreme fire conditions while attempting to find a fire in an apartment on the 19th floor of a 21-story residential apartment building. The lieutenant was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Noise, Hearing Loss, and Whole Body Vibration at a Hammer Forge Company
At the hammers, HHE Program investigators found impact noise levels up to 148 decibels and noise exposures above 100 decibels, A-weighted. Most employees’ noise exposures were above exposure limits. Many employees had hearing loss. We found whole body vibration and hand-arm vibration could meet or exceed recommended limits. For more information click here.

Silica Recommendations Provided to a Natural and Engineered Stone Countertop Fabricator
Although the company used wet methods to control dust, HHE Program investigators found overexposures to respirable crystalline silica. Exposures were highest for employees using pneumatic wet grinders with diamond cup wheels. We recommended the company use engineering controls to decrease exposures and establish a medical surveillance program. For more information click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Survey of Musculoskeletal Disorders Prevention Tools/Methods: 10-year Follow-up
The notice was posted on June 7. Written comments must be received on or before August 8.

Availability of Nonexclusive License: Hosting and Maintaining the Buy Quiet Web Tool and the Database of Noise Levels for Machinery and Power Tools
The notice was posted on July 11. Representatives of eligible organizations should submit expressions of interest no later than August 25.

Call for Papers

10th International Conference on Managing Fatigue
Call for papers. Deadline to submit is September 1.

INRS Science Conference
Call for papers. Deadline to submit is September 15.

Work, Stress, and Health 2017: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities
Call for proposals. Deadline to submit October 31.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

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

MINExpo International 2016
September 26–28, Las Vegas, NV

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

18th International Society for Respiratory Protection Conference
November 7–11, Yokohama, Japan

10th International Conference on Managing Fatigue
March 20–23, 2017, San Diego, CA

INRS Science Conference
March 29–31, 2017, Nancy, France

Work, Stress, and Health 2017: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities
June 7–10, 2017, Minneapolis MN

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

“This Month in History”

Nearly three decades ago, NIOSH testified before the Department of Labor on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule on air contaminants. First to testify was Richard A. Lemen, who at that time served as director of the NIOSH then-Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer: “This comprehensive updating of the Z-Tables will directly influence the health of all American workers… Even though NIOSH will question some of the specific permissible exposure limits that have been proposed, NIOSH does not question the wisdom of this rulemaking.”