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eNews: Volume 15, Number 2 (June 2017)

Volume 15, Number 2 (June 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

NIOSH Focuses on Small Business Safety and Health

NIOSH has led a research program focused on small business safety and health for more than two decades because we know workers in small businesses are injured and killed on the job at a higher rate than workers in larger businesses. Over the years, we have expanded our research focus from identifying small businesses in high-risk sectors to understanding how community networks affect worker safety and health. Small businesses often have limited resources, and we must adapt our efforts and create solutions that are accessible in these economic situations. Although these organizations are small, they can make a big impact on the well-being of the people they employ.

What do we mean by small?

A “small” business is defined in many ways. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.7% of all U.S. firms are considered small businesses, with fewer than 500 employees (Narrowing the distinction further, just over one-third (34%) of the U.S. workforce is employed by a business with fewer than 100 employees.

For discussions of workplace safety and health and for research purposes, the NIOSH Small Business Assistance Program considers small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees. NIOSH researchers have also found that other than number of employees, it is important to consider factors such as age of the business, structure of the ownership, and availability of resources for workplace safety and health.

Solutions for Small Business

We know in many cases, businesses are starting smaller and staying smaller, and given that small businesses often lack safety and health professionals, the need for simple and inexpensive ways to assure safe and healthful working conditions (e.g., Total Worker Health and hazard control banding) is increasingly important. Apps like the NIOSH Ladder Safety app take a lot of the guesswork out of how to identify hazards and protect workers. Tools that work for small businesses—designed for convenience and ease of use—help everyone. Small business needs can drive safety solutions to cost less and to be more effective.

While NIOSH continues to lead a research agenda focused on small business safety and health needs, we recognize that no single organization can effectively reach the millions of small businesses that could benefit from assistance. That is why we have expanded our research agenda to include a specific focus on understanding the role of intermediaries. Intermediaries might be organizations already engaging small businesses in occupational safety and health assistance, looking for new ways to engage small firms, or already well-connected to a small business network. The range of intermediaries includes suppliers of goods and services (equipment/material suppliers, insurance companies, legal and financial advisors, health providers), membership organizations (trade associations, chambers of commerce), education organizations (community colleges, vocational schools), and government agencies. Some of our colleagues at NIOSH Total Worker Health Centers of Excellence—including the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest and the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health—are making great advances in this line of research.

Moving the Small Business Safety and Health Research Agenda Forward

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. This event represents a culmination of two decades of our small business research agenda and an opportunity to generate new ideas through collaboration with world experts, entrepreneurs, and small business leaders that are creating safe and healthy workplaces. We encourage small business leaders, researchers, safety and health professionals, and all those who share an interest in creating safe and healthy small workplaces to join us and be part of the conversation to move worker well-being and sustainable business health from ideas to achievable reality.

NEW  Video Series: Improving EMS Worker Safety Through Ambulance Design and Testing
NIOSH partnered with Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate as well as other federal agencies and the ambulance industry to develop a seven-part video series that covers new crash test methods. The series highlights changes impacting ambulance design, testing, and manufacture. These changes support efficient patient care and improve safety in the ambulance patient compartment for emergency medical services workers, first responders, and their patients.

Study Shows Certain Job Factors Relate to Fair or Poor Health in U.S. Workers
Occupation, lack of paid sick leave, and multiple psycho-social factors are related to workers’ own perceived low health status, according to a study by NIOSH researchers. The study, published this month online ahead of print in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that workers employed in business operations jobs, such as marketing or human resource professionals, were more likely to rate their health as fair or poor. The study also found workers who had no paid sick leave, worried about becoming unemployed, had difficulty balancing work and family, or who were bullied at work were more likely to report poor health. Read more.

NIOSH at the American Industrial Hygiene Association Annual Meeting—AIHce
The 77th annual meeting of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo (AIHce), is taking place June 4-7 in Seattle, Washington. The conference draws thousands of IH/OH professionals, including industrial hygienists, EHS specialists, safety, and risk management professionals, all of whom are responsible for the safety, health, and environment of today’s workspaces. The conference focuses on the important trends, needs, and research that impact worker health. AIHce 2017 will include many presentations by NIOSH.

Nominations Open Safe-in-Sound Awards 2018
The call for nominations is open for the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ 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, Florida. The awards honor excellence and innovation in hearing loss prevention practices in the work environment.

Rear Admiral Randall J.F. Gardner Visits NIOSH
On May 22, Rear Admiral Randall J.F. Gardner, United States Public Health Service Commission Corps chief engineer officer, met with NIOSH leadership representatives, commissioned officers, commissioned corps engineers, and civil servant engineers at the NIOSH Cincinnati facilities to get an overview of the agency and our engineering research. During the visit, RADM Gardner toured the Ventilation, Impulse Noise, and Organizational Science and Human Factors Laboratories. NIOSH thanks RADM Gardner and his staff for the visit.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH Infographic Wins Award from the Center for Plain Language
The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety received an Award of Distinction at the 2017 ClearMark Awards ceremony, held at the National Press Club and hosted by the Center for Plain Language. The award-winning Keep Workers Safe on the Road infographic, which was nominated in the “Original Documents—Short” category, covers the human and economic impact of work-related crashes.



NORA Services Council Holds Webinar
In May, the Services Sector Council held a webinar on contingent worker health and safety. It featured guest speakers Mikey Foley from Washington state SHARP (Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention) and David DeSario from Council members also discussed research needs for the third decade of NORA related to contingent worker health and safety. For more information about NORA council meetings, contact

News from Our Partners

New York Develops Worker Safety Videos Based on Fatality Investigations
More than 13 people are fatally injured at work every day in the United States. Identifying the factors and two videos ( in its Worker Fatality Prevention Video Series, Plumber Killed in a Catastrophic Trench Collapse and Truck Driver Buried in Smoldering Mulch. These videos, based on investigations done by NYFACE staff, identify risk factors and provide prevention methods that can be used by both employers and employees to prevent fatal occupational injuries.

Washington Develops Industry-specific Job Evaluation Checklists
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are common and lead to high-cost workers’ compensation claims. Washington State’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program created industry-specific checklists that can quickly assess levels of risk for WMSDs of the back, shoulder, hand/wrist, and knee in a given job. Checklists were developed for the agriculture, healthcare, construction, manufacturing, services, and wholesale/retail trade industries. These checklists can be used to prioritize prevention efforts by identifying jobs or tasks that pose the greatest risk of injury.

Georgia Occupational Health Indicators Data Summaries
The Georgia Department of Public Health Occupational Health Surveillance Program has published two Occupational Health Indicator (OHI) data summaries: 2013 Demographics and Summary Tables and A Look at Key Trends. The Indicators serve as measures of the occupational health status of Georgia’s civilian workforce and are used to increase awareness of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the state. Detailed data and examination of annual trends among some of the OHIs of special interest in Georgia are presented.

Exploring Markers of Occupational Health Disparities in North Carolina Using the American Community Survey
The North Carolina Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) is involved in a multiyear project to describe disparities in occupational health throughout the state. Using methods recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, select “markers” for health disparities among Hispanic immigrant workers from 2010 through 2014 were compared to all workers in North Carolina. Hispanic immigrant workers were found to be almost twice as likely not to speak English well or not at all, 3.2 times more likely to be at or below the income-to-poverty threshold, 1.4 times more likely to require 1 or more hours to commute to work daily, and 5.3 times more likely to have up to a high school education with no diploma. NC OHSP has partnered with the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the N.C. Office of Minority and Health Disparities to conduct a pilot project to obtain more detailed worker experience data to better describe circumstances contributing to occupational health disparities in North Carolina.

r2p Corner

New Partnership Agreement between NIOSH and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
NIOSH recently signed a 5-year partnership agreement with the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE). NIOSH and IISE will work cooperatively through the partnership to provide outreach, communications, and professional development opportunities regarding occupational safety and health, including ergonomics, and facilitate the transfer and implementation of effective workplace injury prevention measures.  For more information contact Stephen Hudock at (513) 533-8183 or

FACE Reports

Tree Service Foreman Fatally Injured While Repairing a Skid-steer Loader—MassachusettsA foreman for a tree service company was fatally injured while repairing a skid-steer loader with the lift arm and bucket attachment in the raised position. Once the hydraulic line was removed, the foreman was crushed against the loader’s frame when the lift arm and bucket came down. The foreman was pronounced dead.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Trainee Suffers Heart Attack during Fire Fighter Training and Dies—MichiganA trainee was participating in a fire department’s search and rescue training. After about 1.5 hours of practical training, the trainee took a break. He became dizzy, lightheaded, and unresponsive. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the trainee was pronounced dead.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

New HHE Video Series Shows What Happens on a Site Visit
Ever wonder what happens when the Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) team visits a workplace? Watch three new HHE videos to get a glimpse into our activities. Each video shows a different type of testing or sampling conducted in a workplace and reactions from the employer and employees. See the videos here.

Assessment of Metalworking Fluid Exposure at an Automotive Part Manufacturing Plant
After our initial visit, the company lowered metalworking fluid mist levels below the NIOSH recommended exposure limit by improving local exhaust ventilation and adding a splash shield to compressed air guns. However, in a follow-up visit, HHE Program investigators found some machine operators with skin rashes and breathing problems. We recommended the company continue improving metalworking fluid management practices and train employees about the health hazards of metalworking fluids. 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.

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.

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.

Request for the Technical Review of 4 Draft Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) Value Profile Documents
The notice was posted on May 5.  Electronic or written comments must be received by June 19. 

This Month in History

In mid-June 2000, occupational safety and health experts met at a NIOSH scientific workshop in Washington, D.C., to discuss the health effects of smoking in the workplace. Representatives from government agencies and private industry reviewed current knowledge and identified areas for research to protect workers against work-related exposure to smoking. More information is available: Work, Smoking, and Health: A NIOSH Scientific Workshop.