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NIOSH eNews – February 2011


Volume 8 Number 10 February 2011


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
February eNews 2011


Some 1.3 million men and women belong to the Reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces. One of them may be your supervisor, your coworker, your employee—or you. In civilian life, 60.8 percent of Guardsmen and Reservists have full-time jobs, and another 21.9 percent hold part-time employment.

Before 9/11, a commitment to the Guard or the Reserves typically meant a few months of initial active duty, followed by a weekend of service or training each month. Today, service in the Reserves is more likely to mean activation and overseas deployment than in the past, often lasting for a year or more, often involving assignment to a combat zone. According to statistics from the Defense Manpower Data Center, more than 100,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists are on active duty.

Once deployment ends, returning to the civilian workplace may involve making up for lost time and quickly having to readjust to different schedules, surroundings, and demands. It may be a difficult transition, physically and emotionally, especially for those who have returned from combat. In turn, the loss of an employee to active duty for potentially a year or more and then his or her reintegration into the workforce afterward may demand flexibility and patience from coworkers, supervisors, and upper management.

For industry as a whole, reintegrating record numbers of returning Guardsmen and Reservists comes at a time when businesses already face seismic pressures from economic reverberations, downsizings, investments in new technologies, and other uncertainties.

Families, friends, supervisors, and human resources staffs have important roles in helping Guardsmen and Reservists to readjust to the civilian workplace after long deployments and in helping employers to accommodate their return. Reintegration also poses challenges that we as occupational safety and health professionals are uniquely positioned to address:

  • In the past nine years, more than 8,000 Guardsmen and Reservists have been wounded in combat. Like any injury, a combat wound may result in some degree of temporary or permanent physical impairment. Where an impairment exists, does it put the returning worker at risk of further injury on the job, and if so, what measures are needed to prevent that from happening? Fundamentally, these are occupational safety and health questions.
  • Combat can inflict emotional as well as physical wounds. A Guardsman or Reservist returning from a combat zone may carry the burden of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression. He or she may try to cope with those pressures by adopting habits or behaviors that harm rather than help. Alternatively, he or she may be under professional care with specific regimens of treatment. What implications do those conditions, behaviors, or treatments have for the returning worker’s wellbeing on the job? What are the implications for the wellbeing of coworkers? For example, how does anxiety or depression affect a worker’s ability to operate heavy mobile machinery safely in a warehouse, mine, or construction site? What further stressors may be imposed by the job itself? These are questions that must be woven into strategies for easing what may be difficult and emotionally trying readjustments.
  • When a Guardsman or Reservist is deployed, the civilian employer faces a basic question-how to fill in for an employee who may be gone six months, a year, or longer. The prolonged absence of an employee, whatever the reason, requires an adjustment in work routine. This can involve temporary hiring, reassignment of duties, or rethinking of schedules. Any of those options affects the normal flow of work. The shorter the advance notice before the deployment, the smaller the business, or the more specialized the absent employee’s duties, the greater the impact on work organization. When the Reservist returns from deployment, those decisions have to be revisited all over again. Increasingly over the past 20 years, employers have recognized that disruptions and stresses in work organization can affect the health and satisfaction of employees and, in turn, have significant implications for the efficiency, productivity, and profitability of the business. More and more, employers recognize that work organization is a leading occupational safety and health issue for the twenty-first century, inextricable from other factors that help determine a company’s viability.

We in NIOSH have begun to work with our partners, notably the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, to address our community’s role in anticipating and meeting the needs of returning Guardsmen and Reservists and their employers. This is a challenge for NIOSH and its collaborators that the authors of the Occupational Safety and Health Act could hardly have envisioned 40 years ago. It is one that deserves serious attention. At this stage, we face these questions: Do we understand the issues? Have we perceived the right needs? Do available resources address the right needs? Are Guardsmen and Reservists aware of the available resources, and is outreach well-timed to meet their needs when they are ready to seek assistance? In looking at the composition of the Guard and Reserve community—mostly male, white, married, educated through at least high school, and between 21 and 30 years old-what are the safety and health ramifications of those demographics?

The physical and emotional consequences of combat also raise occupational safety and health issues for veterans transitioning into civilian life from enlistments or full professional careers in the Armed Forces. As a rule, those transitions are less abrupt than those for returning Guardsmen and Reservists, and veterans have access to support services and networks that may not be available to the Guardsman or Reservist. Nevertheless, in assuming that, at least initially, we should focus on Guardsmen and Reservists because their needs may be the most pressing, we also must ask ourselves, “Should we broaden our approach?” If partners agree that our initial thinking makes sense, can we gain insights and knowledge from the experience of Guardsmen and Reservists that may also help meet the needs of returning veterans?

I look forward to updating you on our progress as we move ahead with this initiative in 2011, and I invite you to consider partnering with us if you have not already done so.

In Memoriam: John T. Talty

His friends and colleagues in NIOSH were very saddened to learn of the death of John T. Talty on January 23 from a sudden illness. John’s distinguished service with NIOSH included 30 years in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (1960-1990). He then served two additional decades, first with the Education and Information Division and then with the Office of Extramural Programs. John provided excellent leadership, direction, and guidance in a number of occupational safety and health disciplines, including industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, occupational safety, and occupational health psychology. He was instrumental in ensuring the quality of training provided by the Education and Research Centers and Training Project Grants funded by NIOSH. John leaves an occupational safety and health legacy that includes a multitude of students who benefited from his dedication and many more who will do so. John was a truly remarkable person who will be greatly missed.

DHHS Launches Healthy People 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched Healthy People 2020 in December 2010. Healthy People provides a set of national 10-year health promotion and disease prevention objectives aimed at improving the health of all Americans. NIOSH serves as the coordinator of the occupational safety and health topic area of Healthy People. Please visit to view the occupational safety and health objectives. NIOSH looks forward to our continuing work with partners to address these objectives, and to further our goals for preventing job-related injury, illness, and death under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) and Research to Practice (r2p).

NIOSH Twitter Site Launched for Hearing Loss Prevention and Noise Control

Follow NIOSH and the work-related hearing loss prevention community on Twitter ( to stay connected. Tweets will address information related to occupational noise control and hearing loss prevention, including safety and health research, facts and statistics, news and updates, conferences, and publications. For more information, contact Heidi Hudson ( or Mark Stephenson ( or go to /niosh/programs/hlp/

Equipment Could Help First Responders Better Identify Airborne Viruses

A recent report by NIOSH and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examines the use of the two-stage bioaerosol cyclone sampler, developed by NIOSH, as a potential tool for collecting and analyzing airborne virus samples following a bioterrorist attack. The NIOSH sampler could potentially fill a gap in the technologies available for efficient sample collection and preparation following such an incident. The sampler is a lightweight device that could be used either as an area sampler (i.e., hospital room) or as a personal breathing zone air-sampler that could be worn on the clothing of healthcare workers or others.

NIOSH Partners “Top 25 Newsmakers of 2010”

NIOSH congratulates two construction partners who were recently recognized among the “Top 25 Newsmakers of 2010” named by McGraw-Hill’s Engineering News Record (ENR) magazine. CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training consortium researcher David Rempel of the University of California at San Francisco was recognized for his work in developing an overhead drilling tool to significantly reduce the stress on a construction worker’s shoulders, arms and hands, as well as reducing fall hazards. Gary Fore, now the retired vice president of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), was also recognized for his work in establishing a partnership of industry stakeholders to study airborne silica dust and reduce worker exposure in road-milling operations. Gary also serves on the NORA Construction Sector Council. See

NIOSH Launches Online Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers

On January 31, NIOSH launched an online Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers. The survey asks about health and safety practices and types of exposure controls used by healthcare personnel who handle or come in contact with hazardous chemical agents. The chemical agents under study include antineoplastic agents, anesthetic gases, surgical smoke, aerosolized medications, high level disinfectants and chemical sterilants. More than 20 professional organizations have partnered with NIOSH to make the survey available to their members. All sampled participants received an invitation email on January 31, 2011. Survey results will be available on the NIOSH web site later this year. For more information, contact Jim Boiano ( or Andrea Steege (

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Workforce Assessment

NIOSH soon will conduct an “Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Workforce Assessment” to survey private and public sector employers of OSH professionals and providers of OSH training regarding the existing and available jobs for OSH professions and graduates being produced in the nation’s OSH training programs. These web surveys are the first of their kind in over 30 years. NIOSH expects the surveys will provide information about the current supply of, and future demand for, OSH-trained employees and what kinds of OSH training employers expect will be needed. Providers and randomly selected employers will be contacted to participate.

Reminder of Public Comment Periods Ending in February

Flavoring Substitutes
Comments are due February 9, on substitutes for the chemical diacetyl used in butter flavorings, as it addresses potential worker health risks from work-related inhalation of heated flavoring vapors in food production.

Infectious Diseases and Emergency Responders
Comments are due February 11, on a proposed list of infectious diseases that may pose life-threatening health risks to emergency response employees through bloodborne or airborne transmission.

Respiratory Device Standards
Comments are due February 12, on a proposal to develop a performance standard for a combination respirator unit that employs the technologies of two or more different types of respiratory protective devices. /niosh/docket/review/docket082A/

Small Tubules and Potentially Big Health Implications!
Comments are due February 18, on a draft document, Current Intelligence Bulletin: Occupational Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofibers. /niosh/updates/upd-12-02-10.html.

NIOSH Judi Coyne Selected for Governors Health Conference Advisory Committee

NIOSH congratulates Health Communication Specialist Judi Coyne, who was nominated and selected to serve on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference Advisory Committee. This committee is responsible for the organization of the annual conference. Dr. Howard has been invited to speak at the 2011 event.

News from Our Partners

Solar Panels Focus of California Fatality Investigations

The California Department of Public Health’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) program recently investigated three separate incidents involving deaths of workers installing solar panels. CA/FACE has developed recommendations and training materials for solar installers on how to prevent falls from roofs, falls through skylights, and electrocutions. Further information is available at

Apply Now! OSH Internships Now Available

Applications are being accepted for the Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP) through March 14. OHIP is a national program committed to recruiting, training, mentoring and inspiring a new generation of occupational safety and health professionals to prevent job injury and disease through a partnership with workers. Funded by NIOSH and other organizations, OHIP is a project of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). Applications are available at or for more information, contact Sarah Jacobs, or Ingrid Denis,


Arizona Public Safety Council Meeting Just Days Away

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Public Safety Sector Council will meet February 15-16, at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. The mission of the Public Safety Sector is to reduce or eliminate occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among workers in law enforcement, fire fighting, corrections and emergency medical service through a focused program of research and prevention. More information is available at /nora/councils/pubsaf/default.html

Partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)

NIOSH has entered into a partnership with RILA to improve worker safety and health and to facilitate the implementation of the NORA National Wholesale and Retail Trade Agenda (/nora/). RILA’s members include many of the largest retailers in the country. For more information about the partnership, see the Jan. 20 NIOSH Update (/niosh/updates/upd-01-20-11.html) or contact

Save the Date – National Manufacturing Sector Conference

The NORA Manufacturing Sector Council will host the National Manufacturing Sector Conference on Sept. 7-8, 2011, in Cincinnati, OH. For more information, contact Greg Lotz, NORA Manufacturing Program Manager, or 513-533-8482 or Michael Baskett, NORA Program Coordinator, or 513-533-8153.

r2p Corner

r2p logo Asphalt-Milling Partnership Accomplishments

Accomplishments of a diverse partnership to reduce exposures to silica in asphalt milling are described in the January-February 2011 issue of HMAT (Hot Mix Asphalt Technology) magazine. NIOSH provided leadership in encouraging the partnership, conducting field trials to assess silica dust exposures, and providing technical assistance to help design controls for milling machines.

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

NIOSH blogs about state-of-the-art technology in cancer detection! What are the benefits of this technology over the traditional x-ray for detecting work-related cancers? What are potential concerns or questions? This blog provides some background information on the study and describes the approach that NIOSH will take in considering what the findings mean for worker screening. /niosh/blog/nsb011011_ct.html

Communication Products

Teach the Teachers!

NIOSH announces the publication of Emergency Escape and Refuge Alternatives Instructor Guide and Lesson Plan. NIOSH wrote this guide to help mine safety instructors teach miners about emergency escape and using refuge alternatives (that is, retreating to a shelter in the mine after an explosion if escape routes are blocked, and waiting safely for rescue). The training is a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and is intended for group-based training.


To see other new NIOSH communication products, including documents and topic pages, go to the NIOSH “What’s New” page. /niosh/whatsnew/

Call for Abstracts

NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact through Research and Partnerships.
Call for poster abstracts. Deadline for submission is March 9.

National Communication Association 97th Annual Convention
Call for submission. Deadline for submission is March 16.

NIOSH National Occupational Injury Research Symposium
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is April 1.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Occupational and Environmental Medicine Update and Construction Industry: Old and Emerging Occupational Hazards
March 17-19, San Francisco, CA

Personal Protective Technology Program Stakeholders Meeting
March 29, Pittsburgh, PA

Work, Stress, and Health 2011Work and Well-Being in an Economic Context
May 19-22, Orlando FL

NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact Through Research and Partnerships
July 12-13, Cincinnati, Ohio

5th International Conference on Nanotechnology Occupational and Environmental Health
August 9-12, Boston, MA

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
October 18-20, Morgantown, WV

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at /niosh/exhibits.html.

Word of the Month

Bioaerosol Sampler— A device for the collection, identification, and measurement of bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms in a suspension of airborne particles.

Please send your comments and suggestions to us at

This newsletter is published monthly via email by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to inform members of the public health community as well as interested members of the general public of Institute related news, new publications, and updates on existing programs and initiatives.