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eNews: Volume 15, Number 8 (December 2017)

Volume 15, Number 8 (December 2017)

From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH

Healthier Work Design Can Support Workers during the Holiday Bustle

Juggling work demands and outside-of-work responsibilities can cause stress for workers during the best of times. For many, the holidays represent a time of great cheer and the opportunity to connect with friends and family. However, the holidays may also present people with an increased task load which includes more family obligations, increased volunteer and community commitments, preparing for houseguests or travel, a busier-than-usual social schedule, and gift-buying and wrapping. This increase in activity and demands can pose psychological and financial stress for some workers and may spillover to affect them at work.

Healthy Work by Design

There is much employers can do to support their employees. The concept of healthy work centers on the assertion that certain aspects of work and organizational design (i.e., workload, scheduling, participation and worker involvement, feedback and communication, job security, and flexible work arrangements) are critical contributors to worker well-being and organizational effectiveness. These aspects of work can be crafted to protect workers from harm and promote their well-being and ability to thrive both at work and outside-of-work. At all times, it is important to assure that your workplace is safe and free of known occupational hazards. Job redesign and organizational change should be considered for eliminating or reducing sources of stress in the work environment.

To help support employees, there are steps that employers can take. Careful attention to minimizing task overload (too much to do in too little time with insufficient resources) is important at all times, but may be particularly essential during stressful times such as the holidays. Management should also take care to minimize schedule changes made on very short notice. For more information about work schedules, long work hours, and fatigue, visit the NIOSH page on Work Schedules.

Family-friendly policies can play a large role in reducing employee fatigue and stress. Employer-sponsored policies and benefits such as well-being and employee assistance programs, flexible work schedules, telework, and being responsive to requests for time off can provide much-needed support for employees. Remember to make sure employees are aware of, and have access to these benefits.  Employers can also offer resources that reinforce employees’ efforts to manage their health and balance demands such as exercise facilities, yoga or stress management courses, and information on proper sleep hygiene, and nutrition during the holidays. Coordination of health protection at work with efforts to promote well-being through healthy work design and implementation of these and other supportive organization-sponsored benefits and programs is a central tenet of  Total Worker Health®.

Management and all members of an organization should be reminded to enjoy time with family and friends so they can bask in all the restorative and enriching activities the season has to offer. Finally, continue to provide employees with the opportunity to engage in decision making and professional development. For more information about occupational stress and healthy work design, please see the NIOSH topic page on Stress at Work, and the NIOSH Healthy Work Design and Well-being Program webpage respectively.

Partners in success

A healthy organization is created through a positive organizational culture where people are valued and treated fairly with respect, coupled with supportive and inclusive leadership at all levels of the organization. These organizational practices help foster vibrant workplaces and inspired employees. Workplaces that support employees and provide opportunities for them to utilize their skills, develop professionally, and do their best in their overall life will benefit in many ways as they see lower employee turnover and risk for disease, and higher job satisfaction, productivity, mental health, and well-being .  The gift of healthy work is one that will sustain benefits for the long-term, for all involved, well beyond the holiday season.

Please think about strategies for supporting employees during this busy season. We wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

World Trade Center Health Program Seeks Committee Membership Nominations
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is seeking nominations for membership on the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and the Disease, Disability, and Injury Prevention and Control Special Emphasis Panel (SEP). Nominations must be submitted by December 15 for WTCHP SEP and January 26, 2018, for the STAC.

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium is Now Accepting Abstracts and Session Proposals
NIOSH and partners will host the 7th National Occupational Injury Research Symposium—NOIRS 2018. This year’s theme is “Advancing Worker Safety in the 21st Century Through Research and Practice.” Abstracts and session proposals are being accepted through March 2, 2018. Submit your research today!

NIOSH Releases New PPE Conformity Assessment Framework
NIOSH recently released the National Framework for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Conformity Assessment (CA)—Infrastructure document. The document provides a framework to assist in developing, structuring, and managing PPE CA in the workplace. The framework can be tailored and broadly applied to all PPE that protects from a variety of risks regardless of the hazard, type, or environment. This document represents the first in a series of documents supporting the National Framework for Conformity Assessment of PPE. NIOSH will use this document series to publish additional documents related to the development, implementation, and use of conformity assessment programs for PPE.

Celebrate 2 Years of Behind the Wheel at Work!
Sign up for the NIOSH workplace motor vehicle safety newsletter, Behind the Wheel at Work, before we release the 9th issue to our over 19,000 subscribers. Since 2015, we have connected our readers to subject-matter experts, exclusive interviews, research updates, practical tips on workplace driving safety, news about upcoming events, and links to NIOSH and partner safety resources.

New Compendium Highlights Development of Clinical Decision Support to Enhance Worker Health
A new compilation of articles published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, describes an effort led by NIOSH to develop and evaluate clinical decision support (CDS) designed to assist primary care clinicians’ with care of their working patients using CDS tools in electronic health records. This is the first effort to systematically develop and assess the practicality and usefulness of providing clinical decision support linked to work through health information systems in the primary care setting.

New NIOSH/FDA Partnership to Harmonize N95 Regulatory Oversight
NIOSH and the Food and Drug Administration signed a partnership agreement to streamline and harmonize regulatory oversight of N95s in November. The goal of this effort is to help manufacturers easily identify, understand, and work to meet their marketing requirements and to help ensure the availability of safe and effective medical products, particularly during times of increased demand.  See the FDA’s November 29, Federal Register Notice for more details.

Dr Leslie Nickels

In Memoriam of Dr. Leslie Nickels
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Leslie Nickels. Dr. Nickels worked for NIOSH for seven years. She most recently served as the Associate Director for the NIOSH Research to Practice Office and Co-coordinator of the NIOSH Global Collaborations program. Dr. Nickels was an integral part of NIOSH work with both the World Health Organization and the International Commission on Occupational Health. She held a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Nickels trained as an industrial hygienist and spent her career working the areas of enforcement, education and training, and research. She held adjunct assistant professor appointments at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Rush University College of Nursing, and Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies and lectured and trained on occupational health risk assessment, risk management, control and prevention, and risk communication. Her research areas included training intervention effectiveness in the informal economy and non-institutional workplaces settings, and on work as a social determinant of health.

Monthly Features

NIOSH Congratulates

James Green at the American Ambulance Association ceremony.

James Green at the American Ambulance Association ceremony.

James Green Recognized for Ambulance Safety Research
NIOSH researcher Mr. James Green recently received the 2017 Person of the Year Award, presented by Automotive Testing Technology International. More information about Mr. Green and this award is available online. Mr. Green also won the 2017 EMS Partnership of the Year Award from the American Ambulance Association. Both awards were for his role and partnerships with the ambulance industry to develop 10 crash test methods designed to improve worker and patient safety in an ambulance patient compartment.

NIOSH Recognizes Three Mining Companies with Innovation Awards
NIOSH, in conjunction with the National Mining Association (NMA), recognized the efforts of Peabody Energy Corp., Kinross Gold Corp., and Freeport-McMoRan for developing new equipment or tools or using existing technology in new ways. The three companies were awarded 2017 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards during NMA’s Safety Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6.

NIOSH colleagues Pam Graydon, Ed Zechman, Thais Morata, David Byrne, Chuck Kardous, Bryan Beamer, Trudi McCleery at the award ceremony.

NIOSH colleagues Pam Graydon, Ed Zechman, Thais Morata, David Byrne, Chuck Kardous, Bryan Beamer, Trudi McCleery at the award ceremony.

AFGE Names Cincinnati Supervisor of the Year
CAPT David Byrne was recently selected as the 2016 Supervisor of the Year by the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3840 at the NIOSH Cincinnati location. This award promotes a sense of caring and respect within NIOSH, which is crucial to teamwork in the workplace. CAPT Byrne was selected from among several outstanding supervisors for continually striving for fair and equitable compensation for his employees, ensuring the individual dignity of each employee, providing an atmosphere of free expression, guaranteeing “fair play” to all, sparing no effort to provide safe working conditions, and helping make employees feel involved, important, and appreciated. Including CAPT Byrne, the nominees were John Piacentino, Elizabeth Whelan, CAPT Greg Kinnes, and Aaron Sussell.


NIOSH Alumni in the News
Dr. Boris Lushniak, former acting U.S. surgeon general as well as a NIOSH scientist, recently received the American Medical Association’s (AMA) top honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Lushniak was one of several physicians honored at the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Honolulu. Learn more

News From Our Partners

New Report Explores Barriers to Breastfeeding in the Workplace
Results of a survey distributed to four New Hampshire WIC agencies are discussed in the new report, Exploration of Breastfeeding Barriers Associated with Returning to Work Among Women Enrolled in the NH Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The report aims to better understand the barriers to women breastfeeding after childbirth, particularly focused on workplace industry groups and accommodation policies and support practices that encourage or discourage breastfeeding after returning to work. Results indicate that “I went back to work” was the top reason for discontinuing breastfeeding by women working in the Accommodation Food and Hospitality industry group (33%). Women in every industry group reported they would have continued breastfeeding longer if it was easier to pump at work, with Health Care (39%), Manufacturing (58%), and Social Assistance Services (56%) being the top three industry groups represented.

New Fact Sheet Reminds Employers of the Importance of Preventing Distracted Driving
The Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program recently released a FACE fact sheet focusing on the risks of distracted driving. Company owners and managers of employees who drive for work will find valuable prevention recommendations to stay safe. A limited amount of free copies of the fact sheet, “Keep Employees in Motor Vehicles Safe by Preventing Distracted Driving and Ensuring Seat Belts are Worn!” are available. Downloadable versions are also available in both English and Spanish.

New FDA FRN Related to N95 Premarket Notification Requirements
The November 29, Federal Register announced the FDA’s intent to exempt certain N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and surgical N95 respirators from premarket notification [510(k)] requirements. The comment period is open until January 29, 2018.

New Construction Safety Program for CTE Available
The Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at the University of California, Berkeley, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), and West Virginia University (WVU) recently released a NIOSH-funded guide for Career Technical Education (CTE) Construction administrators and instructors. Your Construction Safety Program: Safe Students, Safe Workers was developed based on recent research on occupational safety and health education in post-secondary CTE construction programs. The guide describes and provides action steps to improve the key elements that every CTE construction program should have to create a safe environment in which to work, learn, and instill safety knowledge and values into every student. The aim of this effort is to reach new and younger workers entering the construction workforce so safe work practices are learned early in a person’s career. The guide and a 10-minute, free, online self-assessment designed to help CTE instructors and administrators gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their existing OSH program can be downloaded from the CPWR website.

FACE Reports

Commercial Roofer Falls 30 Feet Through a Skylight While Installing Roof Insulation—Kentucky
A roofer was installing insulation and corrugated metal roofing panels on a warehouse roof. He was stretching roofing insulation near the peak of the roof and lost his balance. He stepped onto a skylight and it broke. He fell to concrete below, fatally striking his head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Semi-truck Owner-Operator Crushed by 7.6 Ton Steel Coil While Securing Load to Flatbed Trailer—Kentucky
A truck driver and a crane operator were using a bridge crane to load a steel coil onto a semi-trailer. While standing on the trailer bed, the crane’s sling became entangled in the steel coil, and it toppled onto the driver. The truck driver was pinned under the steel coil and died at the scene.

Forestry Worker in Vehicle Killed from Timber Falling Activity—Oregon
A forestry worker was killed when her vehicle was struck by a tree that was cut by a faller within an active logging area. The tree that he cut fell downslope and into the road. When the faller went to clear the tree from the road, he found the forestry worker in her vehicle. The forestry worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Report

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies in a Floor Collapse While Working above a Residential Basement Fire—South Dakota
A volunteer fire fighter died in a floor collapse while working above a residential basement fire. While fighting the fire, the fire fighter was on the hoseline with a crew, and they encountered heavy heat, smoke, and fire. The crew backed out by following the hoseline. Once outside, they discovered the fire fighter was missing. A recovery was made, and the fire fighter was removed from the house.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

Evaluation of Odors in a Commercial Office Building
NIOSH investigators found transient odors from a nearby heliport, ferry terminals, emergency power generators, and highway were likely entering the building’s outdoor air intakes and resulting in periodic fuel odor complaints. We recommended a comprehensive ventilation assessment and working with municipal authorities on ways to reduce helicopter traffic near the building. For more information click here.

Evaluation of Exposures at a Water Heater Manufacturer
Finding overexposures to silica and biomarkers of exposure or sensitization to methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, HHE Program investigators recommended starting silica and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate medical surveillance programs, improving ventilation for the mill room hopper and tank finishing operations, and promptly referring employees who report asthma-like symptoms to an occupational medicine physician. For more information click here.

New NIOSH Communication Products

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

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Online Training for Law Enforcement to Reduce Risks Associated with Shift Work and Long Work Hours—New
The notice was posted on October 13. Comments must be received by December 12.

Application of Biological Monitoring Methods for Chemical Exposures in Occupational Health
The notice was posted on October 16. Comments must be received by December 15.

Respiratory Protective Devices—Revision
The notice was posted on October 20. Comments must be received by December 19.

Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the World Trade Center Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC)
The notice was posted on November 7. Nominations for membership must be received by January 26, 2018.

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 postmarked or submitted electronically by February 1, 2019.

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 received by February 1, 2019.

Call for Abstracts

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
Deadline for abstract and session submissions is March 2, 2018.

19th Conference of the International Society for Respiratory Protection
Deadline for papers and posters submission is March 15, 2018.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

Kentucky Conference on Health Communication
April 12–14, 2018, Lexington, KY

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

Fifth International Fishing Industry Safety and Health Conference (IFISH 5)
June 10–13, 2018, St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

5th International Conference on Occupational & Environmental Health
September 10–12, 2018, Hanoi, Vietnam (link coming soon)

19th Conference of the International Society for Respiratory Protection
September 15–20, 2018, Denver, CO

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

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences is available on the NIOSH website.

This Month in History

President Richard Nixon signed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, establishing the NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program. The program aims to prevent early symptoms of black lung disease, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, from progressing to severe disease by providing free periodic chest X-rays and lung-function tests to coal miners.