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eNews: Volume 15, Number 5 (September 2017)

Volume 15, Number 5 (September 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

A Look at the NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Office for National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month and the current response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey remind us of the importance of being ready for emergencies and disasters. This unprecedented event will demand a long term commitment to the recovery of the affected areas in Texas and Louisiana. It also underscores the importance of keeping responders and volunteers who are working on recovery activities safe and healthy.

This is also the 15th anniversary of NIOSH’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Office (EPRO).  NIOSH recognized the need for an office to coordinate emergency preparedness and response activities after the September 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, followed closely by the anthrax letter attacks.

EPRO plays a critical role in planning and coordinating NIOSH’s work to improve preparedness and response for all response workers ahead of the next disaster. When an emergency does strike, EPRO coordinates how our occupational physicians, epidemiologists, industrial hygienists, toxicologists, engineers, and others are mobilized to respond.

While we may not predict an emergency, we can prepare for them. NIOSH has guidance, resources, and tools to help employers, workers, labor unions, and professional organizations better prepare for a disaster before it happens, as well as resources that can be used during the response to protect the health and safety of response workers.

Even after immediate response activities end, workers continue to face hazardous conditions as recovery from a disaster begins. Recovery workers should be aware of the potential dangers associated with cleanup like electrical hazards, exposure to carbon monoxide from generators and hazardous materials, musculoskeletal hazards, structural instability, and confined spaces. The NIOSH Storm, Flood, and Hurricane Response topic page has information to help prepare for the potential dangers involved during clean-up and other recovery activities and the proper precautions to take to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

Additionally, recovery workers should also be mindful of stress and fatigue that are associated with working long hours while responding. To protect mental and physical health and personal safety while deployed, workers should do their best to maintain their own health and recognize the signs of stress and fatigue in themselves and their team members.

As a result of the well-documented health and safety deficiencies identified following the 2001 terrorist attacks, NIOSH—in collaboration with federal agencies, state health departments, and unions—created the Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMSTM) System.  ERHMS is a framework that allows an organization to monitor the health and safety of emergency responders throughout the predeployment, deployment, and postdeployment phases of response in order to protect emergency responders from illness and injury. NIOSH recently developed ERHMS Info ManagerTM, a free, custom-built software product that allows for the collection of data across all phases of a response and can also be used for calculations and analyses. NIOSH has also developed a user’s manual and training videos to accompany the software. More information on ERHMS, free online training, and ERHMS Info Manager is available on our ERHMS website.

While some emergencies may be more difficult to predict than others, it is critical to be prepared to respond to many types of events and to be aware of resources available. We hope you find these resources helpful in your own organizations. While disasters don’t plan ahead, you can.

Join NIOSH in Recognizing N95 Day—Today!
N95 Day is an annual NIOSH event that recognizes the importance of respiratory protection in the workplace and the importance of familiarizing yourself with the available resources to help make educated decisions when selecting and wearing a respirator. This year’s campaign continues to focus on N95 filtering facepiece respirators. However, we are expanding “Beyond the N95” and including information on some other types of respiratory protection. Join in the social media conversation by using the hashtag #N95Day. We are also hosting a N95 Day webinar  today, Tuesday, September 05, at 1:00 PM EST. If you miss the webinar, it will be posted to the NIOSH website shortly after the event. To learn more, visit the N95 Day webpage.

Updated Fentanyl Resources Available for Workers
NIOSH has updated our Fentanyl topic page, Protecting Workers at Risk. On the new page, NIOSH identified four job categories where emergency responders might come into contact with fentanyl or its analogues: Pre-Hospital Patient Care, Law Enforcement, Investigation and Evidence Handlings, and Special Operations and Decontamination. NIOSH delineated the level of risk to responders into three categories—minimal, moderate, and high—and created a table that provides recommendations for personal protective equipment based on job category and level of risk. We have also updated the fentanyl resources page.

Save the Date: 2018 National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
The National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS) will be held October 16–18, 2018, at the Morgantown Marriott (formerly Waterfront Place Hotel) in Morgantown, West Virginia. For updates, check the NOIRS webpage. If you wish to receive email communications about NOIRS, email and we will add you to our mailing list.

NEW Fact Sheet—EMS Workers: How Employers Can Prevent Injuries and Exposures
More than 22,000 EMS workers visited emergency departments each year for work-related injuries, according to a four-year study. This new NIOSH fact sheet, co-branded with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, provides EMS employers with recommendations for preventing injuries and exposures among workers.

NIOSH Launches Mobile Lifting Calculator App
NIOSH recently launched a new mobile app called NLE Calc, which is designed to help workers avoid injuries that are typically caused by job-related manual lifting tasks. The mobile app is available for both Apple and Android phones at their respective application stores.

NIOSH Offers Webinar on Aging Workforce
The NIOSH National Center for Productive Aging and Work and the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health® are co-hosting a free webinar, Interventions and Promising Practices in the Aging Workplace, as part of the Productive Aging and Work webinar series and in observance of National Employ Older Workers Week. In this webinar, presenters will provide an overview of interventions and promising practices for addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by an aging workforce. Join us on September 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM EDT. Continuing education credits are pending for this activity. Register here.

NIOSH and Partners Offer LEED PtD Pilot Credit
The NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health worked with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to develop a LEED Prevention Through Design (PtD) Pilot Credit. Two webinars are available that describe the pilot credit, featuring NIOSH staff and content. NIOSH and USGBC also co-authored a new NIOSH Science Blog published in July 2017 called “Opportunities for Integrating Safety and Health into Sustainable Building Projects: Have You Tried the Prevention through Design (PtD) Pilot Credit?” Learn more here and share your thoughts on the PtD Pilot Credit.

2016 Health Hazard Evaluation Program Annual Report Available
The NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program is pleased to share the 2016 annual report. The report includes summaries of interesting projects and other highlights of our year. We hope the report stimulates conversations about who the HHE Program is and how we make a difference for the health and safety of employees throughout the United States.

NIOSH Hearing Loss Researchers Collaborate on Study of Impulse Noise
Researchers from the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Team participated in a multi-center study at the Quantico Marine Base in Quantico, Virginia, to characterize exposure from impulse noise and develop an empirical model that can be used to recommend guidelines for impulse noise exposure. The study was a joint collaboration of scientists and researchers from NIOSH, the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Brigham Young University. The study is the largest of its kind to date and is expected to form the basis for future impulse noise research and dose-response. For more information and updates, follow @NIOSHNoise on Twitter.

AIHA meeting

Savannah Implements Safety Matters Program for Working Youth
Recently, an American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) member who works for Gulfstream in Savannah partnered with the Savannah Mayor’s Office to present the Safety Matters program to over 300 at-risk youth before they started their summer jobs with the city. Safety Matters is a program developed by NIOSH and AIHA to raise awareness among young people about workplace safety and health and to provide an understanding of the skills and knowledge they need to become active participants in creating safe and healthy work environments throughout their working lives.

NIOSH Researcher Provides Input for Seattle Times Article on Aging Workers
Jim Grosch, co-director of the NIOSH National Center for Productive Aging and Work, recently provided input into an article by the Seattle Times. The story “Workplace Accident Death Rate Higher for Older Workers” was published August 2.

Monthly Features

NORA Update

Comment Now On New Draft NORA Agendas

Two draft NORA agendas are now available for public comment.

  • Draft—National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and Other Chronic Disease Prevention is open for public comment until October 10. Read the draft agenda and provide comments here.
  • Draft—National Occupational Research Agenda for Manufacturing is open for public comment until October 23. Read the draft agenda and provide comments here.

If you have any questions contact

r2p Corner

NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Renew Agreement

Recently, NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) renewed their agreement to continue collaborative efforts to identify workplace safety and health research needs, translate research into practice, and promote the health and protection of workers. NIOSH and AAOHN have a mutual commitment to creating a culture of safety and health and maintaining safe and healthful work environments. For more information, please contact Megan Casey.

FACE Reports

Orchard Tractor Operator Dies When Run Over by Rotary Mower after Falling from Tractor—Washington

An orchard worker died when he was run over by a rotary mower. The worker was using a tractor with a mower attachment to cut the grass, and he fell or was getting off the tractor when he was run over by the mower. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Forest Crew Worker Electrocuted While Trying to Cut Tree Fallen on High-voltage Power Line—Washington

An inmate on a forest work crew was electrocuted while using a chainsaw to cut into a tree that had fallen onto an 115,000-volt power transmission line. The worker died from electrocution at the scene.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports

Fire Fighter/Paramedic Suffers Heart Attack after Performing Physical Fitness Training and Dies—Minnesota

A fire fighter/paramedic worked a 24-hour shift and responded to five calls. He then exercised for about 1 hour in the fire station’s gym. Soon after, he collapsed and was found unresponsive by crewmembers. He was transported to a hospital and was pronounced dead.

Firefighter Dies Several Months after Suffering A Heart Attack On-Scene—Pennsylvania

 A volunteer fire fighter was dispatched to an unattended trash fire. He assisted in advancing the hose line and extinguishing the fire. He then complained of chest pain and was transported to a hospital. Approximately 14 weeks later, while still in the hospital, he died.

Lieutenant Suffers an Acute Aortic Dissection after Physical Fitness Training–North Carolina

A career lieutenant arrived for duty at his fire station at 0600 hours. He exercised and ran outside. A crewmember arriving at the station at 0735 hours, found the lieutenant unresponsive. The lieutenant was pronounced dead at the scene.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Noise Recommendations Provided to a Gray and Ductile Foundry

Finding that employees we monitored had noise exposures greater than noise exposure limits, and most noise exposures were greater than 100 decibels, A-weighted, HHE Program investigators recommended improving acoustic barriers and treatments, maintaining equipment to eliminate rattling from loose parts, and ensuring employees wear their hearing protection properly. For more information click here.

Evaluation of Noise Exposures During Total Knee Replacement Surgeries

HHE Program investigators found one surgeon’s noise exposure exceeded the NIOSH REL, but all other surgical staff were below noise exposure limits. We estimated that surgeons could be overexposed to noise depending on the noise level during surgeries and length and number of surgeries in a work shift. We recommended including orthopedic surgeons in a hearing loss prevention program, using quieter surgical tools, and providing hearing protection. For more information click here.

New NIOSH Communication Products

Emergency Medical Services Workers: How Employers Can Prevent Injuries and Exposures

Protecting Oil and Gas Workers from Hydrocarbon Gases and Vapors

What’s New on the NIOSH Science Blog? Join the Discussion Today!

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The notice was posted on August 14. The meeting will be held on September 26, 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., EDT.

Draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular, and Other Chronic Disease Prevention
The notice was posted on August 9. Electronic or written comments must be received by October 10.

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 July 26. Comment period extended to February 28, 2018.

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.

Call for Abstracts

2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health®
The deadline for abstract submission is October 31.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

National Safety Council Expo
September 25–27, Indianapolis, IN

Understanding Small Enterprises (USE) Conference
October 25–27, Denver, CO

10th International Joint Conference on Occupational Health for Healthcare Workers
November 28–30, Khon Kaen, Thailand

2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health®
May 8–11, 2018, Bethesda, MD

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2018
October 16–18, 2018, Morgantown, WV

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at

This Month in History

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, NIOSH deployed dozens of staff members to New York City as part of federal emergency response and assistance at Ground Zero. NIOSH staff 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.