NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH eNews – September 2016

Volume 14 Number 5 (September 2016)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NORA Enters Its Third Decade

On October 1, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) enters its third decade. Unveiled in 1996, NORA is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Through NORA, diverse parties come together to create a research framework for the nation, including stakeholders from universities, large and small businesses, professional societies, government agencies, and worker organizations. NIOSH is proud to continue its role as steward of NORA.

The questions guiding the third decade are two-fold: What research should be done in 2020 and beyond? Can an efficient and effective structure be found to identify and integrate research priorities? To answer these questions, NORA will move forward with an enhanced structure and a continued focus on a national research agenda.

In the third decade, the 10 sectors formed for the second decade will continue to prioritize occupational safety and health research by major areas of the U.S. economy. These areas are:

  • Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
  • Construction
  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Services
  • Public Safety
  • Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade

More information about the industries included in each sector is available here.

NORA will have an enhanced structure in the third decade. In addition to the 10 sectors, there will be 7 cross-sectors organized according to the major health and safety issues affecting the U.S. working population. These include:

  • Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and Other Chronic Disease Prevention
  • Hearing Loss Prevention
  • Immune, Infectious, and Dermal Disease Prevention
  • Musculoskeletal Health
  • Respiratory Health
  • Traumatic Injury Prevention
  • Healthy Work Design and Well-being

The sector and cross-sector structures will bring complementary viewpoints to occupational safety and health problems. The sector approach allows us to bring specialized knowledge and experience to bear on concerns that are unique to, that disproportionately affect, or are best solved within the organizational structures of specific industries. The cross-sector focus offers flexibility to address commonalities in hazards that cut across industries.

The work of NORA will continue to be carried out by councils, one for each sector and cross-sector. Members will represent the diverse mix of NIOSH stakeholders, including business, labor, government, and academia. Meetings are held both virtually and in person, creating a national venue for individuals and organizations with common interests in occupational safety and health to come together. Sector councils will be carried forward into the third decade of NORA. Current sector council members are welcome to continue their participation and new members are also welcome. Councils for the new health and safety cross-sectors are forming now. Meetings for the third decade will begin in the fall/winter of 2016, so contact the NORA Coordinator now if you are interested in participating.

Councils are charged with starting the third decade by identifying broad strategic research objectives for the nation and then spending the remainder of the decade working to address those issues through information exchange, collaboration, and enhanced dissemination and implementation of solutions that work. Members benefit by hearing about cutting-edge research findings, learning about evidence-based ways to improve safety and health efforts in their organization, and forming new partnerships. In turn, members share their knowledge and experiences with others and reciprocate partnerships.

For over two decades, NORA has been a successful framework for occupational safety and health. We look forward to continued partnerships to improve workers’ health and well-being. If you’d like to learn more about the third decade of NORA, visit the NORA website. If you’d like to participate in a sector or cross-sector council, contact the NORA coordinator.


NIOSH Announces Free, Confidential 2016 Screenings for Coal Miners

NIOSH is offering a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners in western Virginia through September 12. The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust. All coal miners (current, former, underground, surface, and contract) are encouraged to participate. For specific locations and/or to learn more click here.

Free Upcoming Webinar on Productive Aging and Work

The NIOSH National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW) will co-host a free NIOSH Total Worker Health® Webinar: “Productive Aging and Work: Theory, Health Data, and Practical Solutions.” The webinar will examine a model of productive aging, recent data from older workers focusing on a broad range of work-related injuries and health outcomes, and an action-oriented educational program designed to help organizations create workplaces supportive of workers throughout the life span. Join us on Tuesday, September 27 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM EST for this exciting educational opportunity. Register here.

NIOSH and Partners Kick-off Noise Safety Challenge

NIOSH, OSHA, and MSHA have partnered to launch the “Hear and Now—Noise Safety Challenge,” a competition to encourage designers, developers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators to submit ideas for technological solutions to hearing protection problems. Ten finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors, judges, and representatives from government offices. Submissions are due September 30, and a final event will be held on October 27, in Washington, D.C. More information about the challenge is available on the Hear and Now webpage.

NIOSH, WVU and Monongalia County Schools Bring Work Safety Curriculum to Schools

NIOSH is pleased to announce a collaboration with West Virginia University (WVU) and the Monongalia County (W.Va.) School System to bring Youth@Work: Talking Safety, a curriculum in workplace safety and health, to local eight-grade students. Many young people are unaware of their employment rights and the potential hazards that exist in the workplace. Recent statistics show that 1.6 million U.S. youth age 15–17 are employed. Although work provides many benefits for young people, it can also be dangerous. Every year, nearly 59,800 teens ages 15 to 17 get injured on the job seriously enough to seek emergency room treatment. Recognizing this, NIOSH formed a partnership with WVU and the Monongalia County Middle Schools to implement an educational program directed at teaching foundational workplace safety and health knowledge and skills to young workers before they enter the workforce. Youth@Work: Talking Safety is a fun, free, and engaging curriculum that helps educate young people about the basics of job safety and health.

Research Associates Some Pesticides With Respiratory Wheeze in Farmers

New research from North Carolina State University connects several pesticides commonly used by farmers with both allergic and non-allergic wheeze, which can be a sensitive marker for early airway problems. For the study, NIOSH and partners from NC State, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and Westat used interview data from the 2005—2010 Agricultural Health Study to evaluate the association between allergic and non-allergic wheeze and 78 pesticides. The research and findings are available in Environmental Health Perspectives.

@NIOSHConstruct Twitter Reaches Over 18,000 Followers

NIOSH takes the gold this month with the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health reaching more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, the largest following of any NIOSH-related twitter account, having seen a huge soar since the 16,000 followers only a short time ago in May. In the heat of the summer when protection from the sun is an added variable for construction workers, safety and health on the job really comes to the forefront. Follow @NIOSHConstruct to receive real-time information on construction safety and health research, partnerships, and practice that address the safety and health challenges construction workers face and help prevent work-related illness, injury, and disability during the summer months.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

Ag Safety and Health Publication Award
NIOSH researcher Girija Syamlal, MPH was recognized by the International Society of Agricultural Safety and Health as the “outstanding contribution to the research literature of agricultural safety and health,” for the paper “Respirator Use Among U.S. Farm Operators: Evidence From the 2006 Farm and Ranch Safety Survey.”

New Deputy Director for the Spokane Mining Research Division
Pam Drake, MPH, has been appointed as the deputy director of the Spokane Mining Research Division. Pam has over 27 years of experience in occupational safety and health research in the mining industry. She began her government career in 1988 with the U.S. Bureau of Mines as a research chemist with the environmental group. In 1996, after the transition to NIOSH, she began working on projects related to occupational health in mining. For the past nine years, she has served in numerous management positions, including acting team leader, deputy branch chief, branch chief, acting division director, acting associate director for science, and interim deputy director, providing leadership and guidance to a multidisciplinary team of researchers.

New Director for the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division
R.J. Matetic, PhD, has been appointed as the director of the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division. Dr. Matetic brings a long history of experience in the mining health and safety research community. His career began at the Pittsburgh Laboratory in 1984 when he joined the U.S. Bureau of Mines as a mining engineer. Since 1984, Dr. Matetic has served in ever-increasing roles of responsibility including principal investigator, team leader, section chief, branch chief, and director. His areas of responsibilities have been diverse and have included ground control in mining, injury prevention from equipment operation, electrical and mechanical safety systems, and occupational hearing loss prevention.

News from Our Partners

New Hampshire Publishes Report to Better Characterize Lower Blood Lead Levels in Adults
Despite significant reductions in lead exposure in the United States, elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) in adults remain a significant occupational health problem. A recent New Hampshire report, published by the NH Occupational Health Surveillance Program, indicates that out of 650 reported cases during the study period of 2009 through 2013, almost 90% of the cases had BLLs between 10–24 μg/dL. The top industry groups associated with the lower BLLs include manufacturing, construction, waste management and remediation services, and repair and maintenance services.

r2p Corner

Collaboration Between NIOSH and OSHA
NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently signed a three-year partnership agreement to continue the sharing of exposure-related information between the agencies. The agreement promotes the mutual exchange of NIOSH’s Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance data and OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System and OSHA Information System databases. For more information contact Scott Henn.

NIOSH/AOHP Extends Partnership Agreement
NIOSH and the Association of Occupational Health Professionals (AOHP) recently renewed their partnership for another five years. Under the extended agreement the two groups will continue their collaborative partnership to protect the safety and health of our nation’s healthcare workers. Read more.

FACE Reports

Maintenance Worker Struck by Forklift Carriage—Tennessee
A maintenance worker was crushed by the forks of a forklift he was repairing. As the worker was under the forklift, he tightened a hydraulic fitting and the carriage and forks fell, striking his head and pinning him underneath. The worker died from his injuries.

Tree Care Worker Electrocuted While Trimming Branch Near Power Line—New Jersey
A tree care worker was electrocuted after his power pole saw made contact with a 7,200-volt primary transmission line. The worker was on an extension ladder, and as he used the power pole saw, it contacted the power line. The worker died from high-voltage electrocution.

Plant Manager Crushed to Death Under Fallen Pile of Steel Beams—New Jersey
A plant manager was killed after a pile of steel beams fell over and crushed him. The manager was walking between an unsecured, stacked pile of steel beams and a flatbed trailer that was being loaded. The manager suffered blunt impact injuries of the head and neck and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Career Fire Apparatus Operator Dies After Falling Down an Unsecured Elevator Shaft at a Five-story Residential Structure—Ohio
A career fire apparatus operator (FAO) responded to a working fire at a five-story residential apartment building. Visibility was limited due to moderate smoke and the FAO fell down an unsecured elevator shaft. The FAO was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Assessment of Peracetic Acid Exposure Among Federal Poultry Inspectors
Although HHE Program investigators did not find peracetic acid in air samples, they found low concentrations of acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide in the evisceration department and surrounding areas. Some employees reported occasional eye and throat irritation, which can be caused by exposure to chemicals used in the plant. For more information click here.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

World Trade Center Health Program; Amendments to Definitions, Appeals, and Other Requirements
The notice was posted on August 17. Written comments must be received by September 16.

NIOSH Draft Immediately Dangerous to Life or Death Value Profile for Peracetic Acid
The notice was posted on August 11. Written comments must be received by October 11.

NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety: Midcourse Review of Strategic Plan
The notice was posted on August 15. Written comments must be received by October 14.

Call for Papers

10th International Conference on Managing Fatigue
Call for Abstracts– Deadline extended to September 30.

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

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”

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, NIOSH deployed dozens of staff to New York City. As part of federal emergency response and assistance at Ground Zero, NIOSH specialists provided direct technical assistance and advice on managing occupational health and safety risks in rescue and recovery operations. More information is available: Protecting Workers at the World Trade Center Site.