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NIOSH eNews – May 2017

Volume 15, Number 1 (May 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Presents 2017 Awards for Significant Scientific Contributions

Each April, we recognize NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions in the past year to the field of occupational safety and health. This year’s annual awards ceremony honored researchers for their work in 2016 that demonstrated excellence in science that informs and supports the prevention of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The awards include the following:

  • The Alice Hamilton Award, for scientific excellence of technical and instructional materials by NIOSH scientists and engineers.
  • The James P. Keogh Award, for outstanding service by an individual in the occupational safety and health field.
  • The Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award, for exceptional efforts by NIOSH researchers and partners in applying occupational safety and health research to the prevention of workplace fatalities, illnesses, or injuries.
  • The Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science (DIA).

Alice Hamilton Awards

Named after Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneering researcher and occupational physician, the Alice Hamilton Award honors exceptional contributions in biological sciences, engineering and physical sciences, human studies, and educational materials. The submissions go through a rigorous review by panels of scientific experts, including peers from both outside and inside NIOSH.

The work of this year’s award recipients underscores the breadth and significance of occupational safety and health research. To protect U.S. healthcare workers faced with the Ebola epidemic, NIOSH scientists and their CDC colleagues helped implement safety and health controls for infectious disease in the first U.S. hospital to care for a patient with Ebola virus. Looking to examine the effectiveness of vibration-reducing gloves, NIOSH researchers tested the ability of different commercially available gloves to reduce vibrations from powered hand tools, finding the gloves provide little protection to the worker. NIOSH researchers conducted the first-known study to calculate the overall number of years lost by U.S. workers due to work-related hearing impairment and provided an estimate of different levels of hearing impairment by industry. To protect workers exposed to heat and hot environments, NIOSH researchers published a new document with lifesaving, up-to-date information and recommendations for working in heat. NIOSH scientists also developed a new tool to measure airborne engineered nanomaterials.

James P. Keogh Award

The James P. Keogh Award for Outstanding Service in Occupational Safety and Health recognizes a current or former NIOSH employee whose career “exhibits respect and compassion for individual workers, with tireless leadership, courage, and a fierce determination to put knowledge into practice to enhance their well-being.”

For 2017, NIOSH honors Diane Porter for her lifetime commitment to promoting worker safety and health. In more than 30 years in public service, Ms. Porter’s efforts have reached millions of workers and improved countless workplaces and communities. She spent three decades at NIOSH, retiring in 2015 as the institute’s founding deputy director.

Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award

The Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award, named for the inventor of the hard hat, Edward W. Bullard, and the inventor of the personal industrial hygiene sampling pump, R. Jeremy Sherwood, recognizes recipients for outstanding contributions in three categories: Knowledge, Interventions, and Technology. The awards honor outstanding projects in 2016 to increase worker protection in oil and gas extraction, healthcare, and mining. In the Knowledge category, NIOSH researchers were honored for their efforts to evaluate and raise awareness about the hazards to workers who manually gauge or collect fluid samples from storage tanks at oil and gas well sites. In the Interventions category, a training designed to educate nurses and nurse managers on how to reduce the health and safety risks of shift work and long work hours took top honors. A project was honored for its focus on improving workers’ ability to see safety hazards in underground coal mines. The award-winning project for Technology designed better lighting for areas in and around roof-bolting machines.

Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science

The Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science recognizes outstanding collective contributions to science excellence at NIOSH by individual intramural scientists and support staff. Dr. Charles Geraci, an internationally recognized leader in the nanotechnology field, received the Distinguished Career Scientist award for his contributions in policy, research, and field investigation strategies, and in the application of research to the health and safety approaches needed for the responsible development of emerging nanotechnologies. Dr. Candice Johnson received the Early Career Scientist award for her initiative and strong work ethic. Joining NIOSH less than 5 years ago, Dr. Johnson has initiated research to investigate occupational exposures, reproductive health, women’s health, cardiovascular health, health disparities, and biases in epidemiologic studies, in addition to multiple deployments related to the Ebola and Zika viruses. Ms. Vanessa Williams, the team lead for visual communications—with 35 years of government service—received the Scientific Support award for expertly assisting NIOSH staff as they develop and disseminate communication products to help get NIOSH’s research and knowledge into the hands of workers, employers, and other stakeholders.

For more information about the NIOSH Science Awards, including winners and nominees for all categories, or for more information about NIOSH research activities, visit the NIOSH website.

NIOSH Recognizes Worker’s Memorial Day
April 28 was Worker’s Memorial Day. This day provides us with the opportunity to pause and reflect on what is important for the health and safety of our workers and their families. In recognition, NIOSH released its annual Workers Memorial Day statement by NIOSH Director, John Howard, M.D.

NIOSH Appoints New Director of Western States Division
NIOSH has appointed Ryan Hill, MPH (CDR, USPHS), as director of its Western States Division. CDR Hill began his role as the Division’s first full-time director on May 1. In his new role, CDR Hill will lead a diverse group of scientists who conduct research to reduce a wide variety of occupational safety and health hazards in high-risk industries predominant in the West, such as oil and gas extraction, maritime, commercial fishing, wildland firefighting, and aviation. Learn more.

New Web Page Highlights Healthcare Worker Survey
A new NIOSH topic page, Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers, addresses hazardous drugs and other chemical hazards typically found in healthcare settings. NIOSH conducted the online survey to better understand the circumstances surrounding healthcare workers’ exposures, to examine adherence to safe handling guidelines and best practices, and to assess impediments to using personal protective equipment and other exposure controls. The survey targeted several classes of hazardous chemicals including antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, chemical sterilants, high-level disinfectants, and surgical smoke. The topic page provides concise information on why and how the survey was done, findings and recommendations, and access to published articles and other information.

Free Webinar and Live Facebook Chat on Roofing and Construction Safety to Be Held as Part of National Safety Stand-Down
To raise awareness of fall hazards, NIOSH, OSHA and the Center for Construction Research and Training will hold the fourth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction from May 8-12. The weeklong event encourages employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, safety demonstrations, and trainings in hazard recognition and fall prevention. As part of the Stand-Down, the National Roofing Contractors Association will host a free webinar on May 8 to discuss the hazards present after a worker has fallen from a roof and his or her personal fall-arrest system has deployed or activated. NRCA will also ( host a live Facebook chat on May 10 to discuss trending roofing and construction safety topics. For more events being held across the country, see OSHA’s Stand-Down events page.

OHSN Updates System
The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) released two new modules in March. The systems now allow healthcare facilities to track injuries and illnesses related to sharps injuries and blood and body fluid exposures, as well as traumatic injuries.

Occupational Exposure Banding on Wikipedia
The occupational exposure banding Wikipedia page is now available. Occupational exposure banding, also known as hazard banding, is a process intended to quickly and accurately assign chemicals to specific categories (bands), each corresponding to a range of exposure concentrations designed to protect worker health.

Nominations Open Safe-in-Sound Awards 2017
The call for nominations is open for the Safe-in-Sound Award Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ ( and the deadline is July 15. Since 2009, the awards are given annually by NIOSH in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA). The 2018 Awards will be presented at the NHCA Annual Conference, on February 16, 2018 in Orlando, FL.  The awards honor excellence and innovation in hearing loss prevention practices in the work environment.

USE 2017 – Health and Safety for Small Enterprises Conference
NIOSH and the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health are hosting the fourth international Understanding Small Enterprise (USE) Conference in Denver, Colorado on October 25–27. The conference brings together small businesses, health and safety researchers, and industry experts from around the globe. Early bird registration is available until June.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

2017 Liberty Mutual Awardee
Leslie MacDonald, along with researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, were presented with the 2017 Liberty Award at the recent 2017 Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference in Daventry, Northamptonshire, UK. The award recognizes their investigation of the association between exposure to biomechanical and organizational job stressors during pregnancy and employment continuity.

Cincinnati Federal Executive Board’s Recognition of Federal Service Excellence Awards
The Cincinnati Federal Executive Board recently recognized federal employees for excellence in service. NIOSH was well represented with 46 nominees this year. The winner of the 2017 Federal Service Excellence Professional/Scientific Award was Kendra Broadwater. The winner of the 2017 Federal Service Excellence Project Team Award—Scientific/Medical/Engineering—was the Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Program Team of Elizabeth Masterson, Geoffrey Calvert, James Deddens (retired NIOSH employee), Scott Henn, Pamela Schumacher, Marie Haring Sweeney, Christa Themann, and David Wall.

2016 Photo Contest Winner

2016 CDC International People Photo Contest Winner

Aaron Sussell of NIOSH recently won third place in the CDC 2016 International People Photo Contest. While assisting on the NIOSH exposure study of sugarcane cutters in El Salvador, Aaron took the winning photo of a sugarcane worker.


Public Safety Council Webinar
A webinar was conducted on March 16 for the members of the Public Safety Sector Council. CAPT Robert E. McCleery, MSPH, CIH, Deputy Branch Chief, NIOSH HHE Program, gave a presentation entitled Solving Problems through NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations. For more information about the Public Safety Council, contact Mr. Wm. Haskell, Public Safety Sector co-coordinator at

News from Our Partners

Maryland Occupational Health Indicators Report
The Maryland Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Project has expanded on the available occupational health indicator data in Maryland to include sub-state data, race and ethnicity data, and a state-specific indicator measuring work-related emergency department visits. The occupational health indicator report summarizes Maryland data from 2000 to 2013. The percentage of Maryland workers in high-risk industries and occupations has increased since 2000, but the majority of work-related injury and illness indicator rates show a decreasing trend (with the exception of work-related burns and pesticide poisonings, which have an upward trend). The Eastern Shore and Western regions of Maryland tend to have higher work-related hospitalization and emergency department visit rates, and Hispanic workers have a higher rate of fatal work-related injuries.

Respiratory Hazards and Asthma Home Care Aides
Home care aides, a rapidly growing occupation group, may encounter respiratory hazards on the job. In fact, a UMass Lowell study reported that 80% of home care visits involved cleaning, frequently with bleach. Recent findings from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show that asthma is twice as common among home care aides compared to all other workers in the state.

California Publishes “Fragrances and Work-related Asthma—California Surveillance Data, 1993–2012”
Perfume was the ninth most common exposure among all work-related asthma cases identified by The California Department of Public Health’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP). WRAPP also found that nearly a quarter of fragrance-associated cases were classified as new-onset asthma. These findings and more were published online in the Journal of Asthma in March. While there has been reporting of sensitivity to perfume in the general population and in individual occupational case studies, this is the first time state-based surveillance data about work-related asthma (WRA) associated with fragrance exposures has been examined. California is one of five states that conducts WRA surveillance in partnership with NIOSH.

ERC Faculty and Students Present Findings at University of Michigan Public Health Research Symposium
In March, the University of Michigan Educational Research Center (ERC) sponsored a Public Health Research Symposium. The interdisciplinary event featured occupational safety and health presentations and poster sessions by ERC trainees and faculty from three ERCs: University of Michigan, University of Cincinnati, and University of Illinois at Chicago. The symposium provided networking opportunities for ERC trainees, faculty, and staff to discuss research interests. Click here for a recap of this event.

ERC Students Tour Ford Factory to Learn About Workplace Injury Prevention
While in the “Great Lake State” for the University of Michigan’s Public Health Research Symposium, Education Research Center students from the University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois at Chicago toured the Ford Rouge Factory. Trainees from multiple disciplines had the opportunity to learn about Ford’s history of occupational safety and health initiatives and current workplace injury prevention efforts. A key feature of the factory tour was Ford’s green roof system, which has had unexpected safety and health issues. Click here to learn more.

WEBINAR: Safe Jobs 4 Youth – Activities to Educate Youth About Workplace Safety & Rights on the Job
As part of Safe Jobs 4 Youth Month a webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 16 at 7am & 11am PT. As the summer job season approaches, many young people are entering the workforce for the very first time. There’s a good chance no one has ever told them about their rights on the job, or how to stay safe at work.  This webinar will walk participants through three separate activities they can use to better prepare youth to work safely, know their rights and responsibilities, and know how to speak up effectively when problems arise at work. ( Register here.

OSHA Seeks Applications from Organizations Interested in Becoming OSHA Training Institute Education Centers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced that it is seeking applications from nonprofit organizations interested in providing instructor-led classes on occupational safety and health as part of the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers Program. The national program serves private and public sector employers, supervisors, and workers within OSHA’s jurisdiction. For information on how to apply, see the Federal Register notice. Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. CDT on Friday, June 30.

SafeYouth@Work Project Promotes OSH to Young Workers
The SafeYouth@Work project aims to promote the occupational safety and health of young workers, with a focus on those aged 15 to 24. This project is currently working to provide an opportunity for 200 youth champions for workplace safety and health (aged 18 – 24) to participate in the World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore in September 2017, fully funded. There is also an opportunity for 6 youth artists to win the opportunity to particulate. Learn more here.

r2p Corner

Partnership Between NIOSH and American Society for Testing and Materials
NIOSH and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) recently signed an agreement to facilitate the partnership between NIOSH/NPPTL and the ASTM International’s Committee F23 on Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment. The agreement includes cooperation in development of test methods, product standards, practices, guides, classifications, and terminology related to worker and emergency responder protective clothing and equipment. This will be accomplished by NIOSH employee membership and participation on ASTM standards development committees. For more information, contact William Haskell at or (978) 470-1211.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Career Female Fire Fighter Dies after Becoming Lost and Running Out of Air in a Residential Structure Fire—Pennsylvania
A female career fire fighter/EMT died after becoming lost and running out of air in a structure fire. The fire fighter/EMT was the third fire fighter on a hoseline crew attacking the fire when the fire overran their position. A fire fighter and the officer escaped, but the fire fighter/EMT was trapped and radioed a Mayday. Due to the fire conditions, her buddy breather hose burned through and she lost her available air supply and died.

Fire Fighter Suffers Heart Attack after Participating in a Parade—New York
A volunteer fire fighter responded to a fire at an assisted living facility. On arrival, he found the fire had been extinguished. He departed to a neighboring town and marched approximately 1 mile in a parade. Approximately 90 minutes after completing the parade, the fire fighter became unresponsive. The fire fighter was transported to the hospital and died.

Fire Boat Captain Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death after Winterizing Fire Boat—Michigan
A seasonal career fire boat captain began his 24-hour shift. He piloted the fire department’s fire boat to its slip at the nearby U.S. Coast Guard station. For about 2 hours, the captain and a crewmember winterized the boat. He then gave a tour of the boat. After returning, the captain took a nap. About 4 hours later, crewmembers found the captain unresponsive. The captain was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Diesel Exhaust Exposures at Multiple Fire Stations in a City Fire Department
HHE Program investigators measured low levels of diesel exhaust and carbon monoxide in the living areas and apparatus bay at all three fire stations. We recommended having the apparatus bay exhaust fans operate automatically when bay doors are opened, moving turnout gear away from apparatus exhaust pipes, and removing exercise equipment from the apparatus bay. 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.

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.

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.

Assessing Safety and Health Hazards to Workers in Oil and Gas Extraction: A Survey—New
The notice was posted on April 6. Written comments must be received within 30 days of this notice.
Measuring Well-being for Total Worker Health—New
The notice was posted on April 20. Written comments must be received within 30 days of this notice.

This Month in History

Nearly three decades ago, NIOSH published results from more than 500 health hazard evaluations of indoor air quality. Most of the 1971 through 1988 evaluations were in office buildings. Although the precise cause of workers’ symptoms was unclear in most cases, the fact that their symptoms decreased when they were away from work led investigators to suspect the workplace. More information is available at NIOSH Indoor Air Quality Investigations: 1971 through 1988.