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NIOSH eNews – December 2010

Volume 8 Number 8 December 2010


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
December eNews 2010

A Distinguished Honor, Well Deserved

Please join me in congratulating Diane Porter, NIOSH Deputy Director for Management, on her receipt of a distinguished Presidential award. Diane was awarded the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive for 2010, which recognizes exemplary sustained accomplishment by career civil service executives. This honor is well deserved.

The prerequisites for the award are exacting. To quote the Senior Executive Service criteria:

1. Program Results: The executive has an exceptional record of achieving major program goals and exceeding customer expectations by marshaling internal and external human, financial, and technological resources to attain high-quality outcomes that are technically sound, cost-effective, and yield rewards commensurate with the level of risk.

2. Executive Leadership: The executive possesses a sound strategic overview of the public sector environment and has shown creativity, adaptability, and resilience in his or her efforts to align program efforts with the organization’s vision, mission, and goals and in partnering with stakeholders inside and outside the organization. The executive has also demonstrated the ability to lead people effectively by fostering employee development, cooperation, and teamwork, and by constructive resolution of conflicts.

More information about the Presidential Rank Awards can be found at

Diane’s record of service to NIOSH, our stakeholders, and the Nation is a model of excellence. For nearly three decades, Diane’s keen sense of mission, executive skills, energy, and personal integrity have helped to define NIOSH’s high standing in the stakeholder community. Her leadership has been essential to our success in engaging a long series of diverse and challenging responsibilities.

Those accomplishments include the success of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), the independent scientific review by the National Academies of eight NIOSH programs, our diligence in carrying out the duties assigned to NIOSH by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, our prompt engagement of miners’ safety and health needs under the MINER Act of 2006, the stewardship of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, and our coordination with diverse partners to meet the threat of the H1N1 influenza outbreak last year— to name only a few examples.

In each case, and in many others besides, Diane was integral in bridging with our stakeholders in many different industrial sectors to understand their needs and expectations, coordinating with our scientists and engineers in widely separated locations to help them integrate new duties into ongoing programs and to devise benchmarks for evaluating our performance, and working closely with administrative staff to ensure that we allocated time and resources effectively and appropriately. I am the third NIOSH Director to benefit from Diane’s professional and personal strengths.

Diane’s award also highlights the fact that the qualities of strong leadership are not exclusive to the private sector. We expect, rightly so, that government agencies will provide the services that they are constituted to deliver and will do so in ways that make best use of our tax dollars. More often than not, that involves making difficult decisions on competing priorities, managing limited resources effectively, and moving decisively to meet urgent needs, sometimes on short notice. We depend on executives at the career level, like Diane, who have the talent, insight, and tenacity to help us meet those challenges.

Like other agencies, NIOSH will lose many senior managers to retirement in the next few years. Organizationally, we are trying to ensure that successors will be available with requisite skills and experience. Diane has been a leader in this respect too, as a personal mentor, as a model for balancing work and family demands, and as a strategist in helping to design and implement programs in mentoring, diversity, and career development across NIOSH. Her career, as honored by the Presidential Rank Award, sets a high bar of excellence for our current and future generations of executives alike.

Football Linemen at Higher Risk for Attacks

The New York Times recently reported new concerns about risks of cardiovascular disease among linemen in the National Football League and notes NIOSH’s pioneering 1994 study that found a greater-than-expected incidence of heart attacks among linemen. The NIOSH study is being updated for anticipated publication in early 2011.

Monitoring and Addressing Harmful Overexposures to Lead

A new NIOSH Web-based resource, ABLES, is intended to help users identify, monitor, and address harmful overexposures to lead. The Web site provides data on cases of elevated levels of lead in the blood of adults and trends in those cases over time. It also allows users—particularly occupational and environmental health professionals and researchers—to create customized data products from those data.

Simple Tractor Upgrades Can Increase Farm Safety

Tractor overturns are a serious risk for fatal injuries among farmers. An article in USA Today (Nov 3) notes NIOSH research on the problem and highlights a NIOSH-funded program in the university-based Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health to encourage farmers to reduce their risk of tractor rollovers by retrofitting older tractors with roll bars and seatbelts.

Deepwater Horizon Response Update

The eighth report in a series of interim reports from the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program of Deepwater Horizon response workers was released on October 26. Updated spreadsheets of data from industrial hygiene sampling and health exposure surveys are also available. /niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/gulfspillhhe.html.

NIOSH Announces Funding Opportunities

Centers of Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce

Funding for the NIOSH WorkLife Program Centers of Excellence will be recompeted in FY2011 in accordance with announcement no. RFA-OH-11-001 ( The deadline for applications is January 28, 2011.

The NIOSH WorkLife Program (/niosh/worklife) emphasizes the promotion of workplace programs, policies, and practices that result in healthier, more productive employees through a focus on disease prevention, health promotion, and accommodation to age, family, and life stage. To assist with these efforts, NIOSH currently funds three Centers of Excellence: Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (UMass-Lowell) (; Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence (University of Iowa) (; Center for Work, Health, and Well-being (Harvard School of Public Health) ( Research supported by the NIOSH WorkLife Program is needed to demonstrate the positive impact of integrated health promotion and health protection programs on the safety and health of workers while also resulting in healthier work environments. For the purpose of this announcement, health promotion activities without attention to conditions and policies of the workplace are outside the scope of this program.

Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention

Funding for the Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention will be recompeted in FY2011 in accordance with announcement no. PAR-11-022 ( The deadline for applications is February 4, 2011.

The NIOSH-funded Ag Centers conduct high quality research and help translate scientific discoveries into practical applications to improve agricultural health and safety. They help find practical solutions to complex problems, cultivate collaboration and partnerships, and conduct outreach/education efforts for specific issues or worker populations. Highlights of Ag Center activities can be found in Ag Connections newsletter at Or visit the Center Web sites to learn more: Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (; High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (; Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health (; Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (; Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention (; Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education (; Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (

Report Recommends NIOSH Expand Leadership in Personal Protective Technologies

A report released November 11, by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommends that the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory continue and expand its leadership role in the development and implementation of conformity assessment (certification) processes related to nonrespirator personal protective technologies (PPT). The new report ( is a result of a 2009 request by NIOSH for IOM to assess the certification mechanisms needed to ensure the effectiveness of nonrespirator PPT. The request was generated from a 2008 National Academies PPT program evaluation that included the recommendation for NPPTL to “oversee all PPT certification in order to ensure a minimum uniform standard of protection and wearability.”

Wanted: Your Hospital’s Innovative Practices that Improve Both Patient and Staff Safety

The Joint Commission, in collaboration with NIOSH, is seeking examples of effective practices that integrate safety-related activities that improve processes and outcomes for both patients and health care workers, such as conducting security risk assessments. The examples will be considered for discussion at a roundtable meeting and potential inclusion in a free educational monograph intended to help organizations improve quality and safety. If your organization has an effective practice to submit, please complete the online survey at or contact Kristine Donofrio ( for more information.

Video Highlights Hispanic Worker Risks

NIOSH works with its partners to identify work-related hazards that can affect the growing Hispanic worker population and to provide meaningful information for reducing risks. In a new Spanish-language video presentation on the Dialogo de Costa a Costa news service, NIOSH’s Maria Lioce highlights occupational cancer issues.

New Technology For Reducing Ladder Slips

Ladder slips account for more than one third of all ladder-related fall incidents. NIOSH is collaborating with SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development institute, to develop a prototype device that will enhance extension ladder stability. The device will use an innovative electroadhesion technology invented and developed at SRI. Electroadhesion provides a means to electrically attach a ladder to a variety of building surfaces using considerable force, thereby providing increased traction and resistance to slip. Applying electroadhesion technology to ladders has the potential to improve their stability on variety of materials with smooth, rough, and dusty surfaces. More information is available at /niosh/topics/falls/ICFPP/2010/pdfs/ICFPPBookFinalMay2010.pdf or contact Peter Simeonov (

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Photos of NIOSH at work are among those displayed recently at the National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice Web site. The photos taken by NIOSH Health Scientist Aaron Sussell were submitted to the first National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice Photo Contest and were selected for the photojournalism exhibit at the National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice Conference, September 23-25, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

NIOSH Represented on Firefighter Injury Surveillance Board

Dawn Castillo of the NIOSH Division of Safety Research has been selected to serve on the advisory board for the development of the Firefighter Nonfatal Injury Surveillance System (F-NISS). The purpose of F-NISS is to standardize information from surveillance systems and unify them into a core data set describing firefighter injuries accurately and consistently at the national, regional, and local levels. The project is being developed as the result of a grant awarded to Drexel University by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

NIOSH Requests Public Comment

Protecting First Responders
NIOSH is accepting comments through December 20 on a document to better protect first responders. The document expands the 1995 method development and testing methods to monitor for gases and vapors. Laboratories, manufacturers, and consensus standard setting bodies use these documents.

Sharing of SCBA in an Emergency Escape
NIOSH is accepting public comments through January 12, 2011 regarding its policy on “buddy breathers,” or the sharing of a single self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) by two people in an emergency escape. Under longstanding NIOSH policy, the use of any component of an SCBA to provide a second person with access to the device invalidates NIOSH certification. NIOSH is reviewing the policy in light of current practices and standards. /niosh/docket/review/docket147/

New Respiratory Device Standards
NIOSH is developing appropriate standards and test procedures for the various types of respiratory protective devices used to provide protection to workers in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear environments. NIOSH invites public comments through February 12, 2011, on a proposal to develop a performance standard for one such device, a combination respirator unit that employs the technologies of two or more different types of respiratory protective devices. /niosh/docket/review/docket082A/

News from Our Partners

Texas Nationwide Occupational Health Surveillance Campaign

The Texas Occupational Injury and Illness Surveillance Program is engaged in an ongoing campaign with state partners about the scope of occupational health surveillance across the country, including the work of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, NIOSH, and Education and Research Centers. The campaign not only illuminates what the state of Texas is doing to assess the public health impact of occupational injury and illness but also what has been accomplished at the federal level. An example slide show has been posted under “educational resources” at

New Occupational Hygiene Twitter Site Worth a Look

Free, stand-alone industrial hygiene training modules and other IH resources are now available at and on Twitter @OHlearning. This new Web site, brought to you by the Occupational Hygiene Training Association, was formed to promote better standards of occupational hygiene practice throughout the world. Visit the Web site for more information and and/or follow OH Learning on Twitter @OHlearning.

New Arizona Training Center Opens for Western Miners

On November 12, the Arizona Daily Star reported on a NIOSH cooperative agreement that establishes a new safety and health training center for Western miners at the University of Arizona. The new center will offer training focused on the unique safety and health needs of miners in the West’s hard rock metal mines and sand, gravel, and stone mines.

Economists Discuss “Green Construction” With Eye to Future Research

The Construction Economics Research Network heard presentations that defined “green construction” and examined its impact on the construction labor force and on construction safety and health at the annual meeting of the Center for Construction Research and Training in October. Representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Labor, and four labor and joint labor-management organizations presented their current activities and programs to nearly 40 participants. Presentations elicited discussions on the LEED system, government initiatives and their limits, associated hazards of green construction, and the need for jobs/career opportunities and worker training. To view the presentation slides go to

OSHA Construction Advisory Committee to Meet

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) will meet Dec. 9-10, in Washington, D.C.

Health Hazard Evaluations (HHE)

HHE logo Evaluation of H1N1 Exposure Among Internal Medicine Housestaff and Fellows

NIOSH health hazard evaluation (HHE) investigators evaluated exposure to the pH1N1 virus among internal-medicine staff and fellows at four medical centers. Investigators found gaps in infection control knowledge and in adhering to personal protective equipment recommendations, along with incomplete exclusion of ill housestaff and fellows from work. HHE investigators recommended that a comprehensive influenza infection control strategy include education and vaccination. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2009-0206-3117.pdf


NORA Symposium 2011 Call for Poster Abstracts Continues

Poster abstracts for the NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact through Research and Partnerships will be accepted until March 9, 2011.

r2p Corner

r2p logo Learn About Impact Around NIOSH

A series of communication products have been developed that highlight NIOSH or NIOSH-funded research activities demonstrating impact on worker safety and health. These Impact Sheets briefly describe an occupational safety or health hazard, the specific research activity conducted, the resulting impact or scientific recommendations, and significant statistics surrounding the issue. Several of these products feature award-winning projects, as well as projects from the first and second decades of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). NIOSH continues to develop and publish Impact Sheets to further educate and raise awareness of occupational safety and health research activities. Impact Sheets can be found at For more information please contact Elizabeth Dalsey at

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

Assaults on Nursing Assistants

Nursing assistants are a critical part of the dedicated staff who work day and night in nursing homes to keep residents safe, secure, cared-for, and comfortable. Yet the very workers ensuring the safety of our seniors are themselves at risk for workplace violence and assaults. NIOSH is seeking your comments on strategies that have worked to reduce violence against nursing assistants. /niosh/blog/nsb112210_nurse.html.

Communication Products

Fishing Fatality Facts and Safety Recommendations

NIOSH announces the publication of four reports summarizing fatality data for U.S. commercial fishing regions.

Gulf of Mexico /niosh/docs/2011-106/pdfs/GC_CFID_Summary_EV.pdf
East Coast /niosh/docs/2011-105/pdfs/EC_CFID_Summary_EV.pdf
West Coast /niosh/docs/2011-104/pdfs/WC_CFID_Summary_EV.pdf
Alaska /niosh/docs/2011-103/pdfs/AK_CFID_Summary_EV.pdf

It’s Dangerous Up There!

Aerial lifts are used in many industries to elevate workers to working areas above ground level. Data indicate that most work-related deaths from aerial lifts involve scissor lifts and boom-supported lifts, such as cherry pickers and bucket trucks. NIOSH teamed with partners to design, develop, and test safer aerial lift equipment and fall-protection systems for commercial use and to develop specific design methods and criteria for future development. /niosh/docs/2010-166/

Engineer It Out of Here!

On November 19, NIOSH released Prevention through Design (PtD): Plan for the National Initiative. The PtD program focuses on removing occupational hazards through the redesign of work equipment, structures, materials, and processes. /niosh/docs/2011-121/.

Cashing In On Good Safety and Health

Hard economic times are often very dangerous to U.S. workers because some companies under financial strain are tempted to cut safety programs for quick cost savings. This philosophy and the related actions can have high human and financial costs. Xavier University of Ohio partnered with NIOSH to offer a course, Business Values in Safety and Health, to MBA students who learn how investing in occupational safety and health can boost business. /niosh/docs/2010-162/

Protecting Those Who Save Us

NIOSH and partners are working to reduce ambulance crash-related injuries and deaths among EMS workers. The Ambulance Crash Survivability Improvement Project addresses the layout and structural integrity of ambulance compartments, design of hardware, and occupant restraints. The findings will be used to help inform new standards for ambulance safety devices, structural integrity, and other safety-related factors. /niosh/docs/2010-164/pdfs/AmbulanceCrash.pdf

New Firefighter Fatality Investigation Report

Fire Chief Suffers Sudden Cardiac Death During Emergency Medical Response— Utah


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

2011 National Symposium on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Health and Safety
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is December 30.

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

NIOSH National Occupational Injury Research
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is April 1, 2011.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Respirator Approval Labels Workshop
December 8, Pittsburgh, PA. This meeting will also be available via live meeting conferencing. For more information contact or 412-386-5200.

Public Meeting on Respirator Standards and Regulations
December 9, Pittsburgh, PA. This meeting will also be available via live meeting conferencing. /niosh/npptl/resources/pressrel/letters/lttr-12092010.html

Musculoskeletal Disorders and Chronic Pain Conference
February 10-12, 2011, Los Angeles, CA.

2011 National Symposium on Agriculture, Forestry, & Fishing Health & Safety
June 26-30, 2011, Boise, ID.

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

Word of the Month

ABLES— is the NIOSH Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance database. Exposure to inorganic lead continues to be an important health problem worldwide. In the U.S. the vast majority of reported elevated blood lead levels have been work related. To further the goal of reducing lead exposures in adults, NIOSH makes available to the public health community lead exposure data through this interactive database.

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.