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NIOSH eNews – April 2012

Volume 9 Number 12 April 2012


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
April eNews 2012

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Update

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Maryann D’Alessandro, Ph.D., as the third Director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) effective March 19, 2012. Dr. D’Alessandro served as the Interim Deputy Director for NPPTL since December 2011. She began her NIOSH career in December 2003 as the Associate Director for Science for NPPTL, after serving since 1988 at various U.S. Army research and development organizations throughout the country and in two research universities. She succeeds Les Boord who retired from federal service in November 2011.

As Director, Dr. D’Alessandro will be responsible for NPPTL’s operations at its locations in Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV. This work supports the NIOSH mission to prevent work-related injuries and deaths by advancing the knowledge and application of occupational safety and health. Since its inception in 2001, NPPTL has made significant contributions to this mission through cutting edge research in the development and testing of personal protective equipment to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. This research supports the NPPTL mandate to certify respirators and update the Respiratory Protective Devices Federal Regulation, 42 CFR part 84; and more importantly the research supports the estimated 20 million U.S. workers who rely on personal protective equipment on a regular basis to protect them from various workplace hazards.

The Respirator Certification Activity is the cornerstone of NPPTL. This activity emphasizes fairness, integrity, and consistency in all respirator certification and audit activities. In calendar year 2011, NPPTL improved the quality of the nation’s inventory of respiratory protection for workers in all industry sectors by making 501 respirator approval decisions. This includes 71 new approvals and 155 modifications to the existing stock of respirators and completing 121 respirator audits. Since September 2011 the Respirator Certification Activity has issued 124 new approvals, 24 of which are CBRN SCBAs or self-contained breathing apparatus as they are known. CBRN respirators protect emergency responders in the case of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) event.

The Policy and Standards Activity keeps pace with technology and provides timely regulatory updates necessary to keep manufacturers producing and delivering products to ensure the workers remain safe. One such regulatory update became effective in March. The Closed Circuit Escape Respirator (CCER) rule marks the first update to 42 CFR 84 since 1995. Under this rule, currently approved CCERs can remain in service for their full service life, while a 3-year transition period allows CCER manufacturers to continue sale of manufactured and NIOSH labeled currently approved devices. As of April 9, NIOSH will only accept applications to the new performance standards of this final rule.

NPPTL Stakeholder Meeting participants in the Pesticide Handler Breakout session try on nitrile gloves to help them understand proper donning and potential self-contamination issues.

NPPTL Stakeholder Meeting participants in the Pesticide Handler Breakout session try on nitrile gloves to help them understand proper donning and potential self-contamination issues.

NPPTL also addresses priority research areas and translates findings into the workplace through partnerships. For example, through a partnership with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), cooperative research and development agreements with two large respirator manufacturers were signed to develop more comfortable and usable respirators for healthcare workers to improve respirator compliance. Another significant partnership is with the California Department of Public Health which led to the development of a Respiratory Protection Program Healthcare Worker Toolkit for the state of California, which is now under development for nationwide applicability.

In 2011, NPPTL expanded its research activities to the south to the NIOSH Morgantown laboratory to enhance laboratory research capacity through use of additional laboratory space in Morgantown to develop research, testing, and evaluation capability to support personal protective technology research and policy and standard development activities.

A few weeks ago NPPTL hosted its fifth annual Personal Protective Technology Program Stakeholder meeting in Pittsburgh on March 21 and 22. This meeting provided an opportunity for over 300 users, manufacturers, researchers, and other interested parties to meet with over 40 NIOSH researchers in discussions of current and future research needs. Industry experts presented on PPE selection, use, and expectations from their perspectives; integrating their research and experience into the discussion. These meetings have proven successful as they offer stakeholders the opportunity to provide input to NIOSH PPT program and learn about current activities. For more information on the meeting go to /niosh/npptl/resources/certpgmspt/meetings/03202012/

Over the past 11 years NPPTL has successfully navigated the “growing pains” phase of the organization, and continues to strive for excellence in all of its key operational areas — in its core research, standards development, certification, and surveillance activities — and in its effort to expand the PPT Program and its objective to most effectively address the PPE priorities in the workplace. Today NPPTL is organized for results and continues to work with partners to help workers understand PPE expectations and use in an effort to enhance workplace safety and health.

Diesel Exhaust Studies Published

Findings by scientists from the National Cancer Institute and NIOSH on risk of lung cancer death from heavy exposure to diesel exhaust among underground miners were published in March.

New eNews Feature

Beginning this issue NIOSH is replacing the “Word of the Month” section with a “Did You Know” section, offering interesting facts about occupational safety and health that you may not have known before.

Anthrax Information Available on NIOSH Web

NIOSH announces a new topic page on anthrax. This page features NIOSH information and resources for protecting workers from exposure to anthrax. It also provides a home on the Web for guidance and products developed by the NIOSH anthrax working group. /niosh/topics/anthrax/

Healthcare Facilities Needed to Test Interactive OSH Surveillance System

NIOSH is currently seeking innovative healthcare facilities to test the data transmission process of its new Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) surveillance system. The OHSN is a new voluntary and secure electronic occupational safety and health surveillance system that examines non-infectious occupational safety and health issues among healthcare personnel. NIOSH invites all healthcare facilities to incorporate our data elements in preparation for general enrollment in the network, currently scheduled for December 2012. For more information go to /niosh/topics/ohsn/ or email

Join Total Worker Health™ in Action

Sign up now to receive the NIOSH Total Worker Health™ (TWH™) Program quarterly newsletter, TWH™ in Action! TWH™, evolving from the NIOSH WorkLife Initiative, is a strategy integrating health protection and health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being. To receive or view our newsletter, go to To learn more about Total Worker Health™, go to /niosh/twh.

NIOSH Provides Comments on ‘Hours of Service of Drivers’ Rule

Research-based comments from NIOSH on safety and health issues related to commercial driving were acknowledged formally in the final rule, “Hours of Service of Drivers” (48 CFR Parts 385, 386, 390, and 395), published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, effective February 27. More information on this rule can be found at

In Memoriam: Former NIOSH Researcher Tom Fischbach

NIOSH is saddened by the death of former NIOSH researcher Thomas J. Fischbach on March 22. Tom worked at NIOSH from 1977 until his retirement in 1997. His significant contributions at NIOSH included: work on analysis of worker disability data, work with NIOSH engineers to control dangerous workplace hazards, methodology for evaluation of analytical methods and their accuracy, time series data analysis for real-time instruments, and promotion of the use of measurements below the limit of detection in statistical analyses.

Special Audiology Journal Issue on Hearing Loss Prevention

Supplement 1, February 2012, of the International Journal of Audiology is a dedicated issue focused on Hearing Loss Prevention. NIOSH developed this special joint issue in cooperation with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA). It highlights research presented at NHCA’s 36th Annual Conference in February 2011. Drs. Thais Morata, NIOSH, and Colleen LePrell, University of Florida, Gainesville, were invited editors. For the full issue, see

Sleep Tweets

On March 9, NIOSH research experts for work schedules and related sleep issues participated in a Twitter event, #Sleepchat. The event was organized by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, National Institutes of Health. Go to /niosh/topics/workschedules/ for more information on the health and safety implications of shift work and long work hours. Also you can follow NIOSH on Twitter at @niosh for more information on occupational safety and health.

NIOSH Congratulates….

Andrew Klein, School Lab Safety Award Winner

Andrew Klein, machine shop tech teacher from Reading, Pennsylvania, received the 2012 NIOSH and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) School Lab Safety Award. The award is given to a teacher or professor who promotes occupational safety and health in school laboratories. For more information, go to /niosh/updates/upd-03-22-12.html.

NIOSH Morgantown Recognized as Breastfeeding-friendly Worksite

The NIOSH laboratory in Morgantown, West Virginia, was one of the five West Virginia businesses recognized as an Outstanding Breastfeeding Supportive Worksite by the West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance. This award is given to businesses in West Virginia that meet criteria identified by the Alliance for having breastfeeding-friendly worksites and making it easier for moms to nurse their babies while at work. Go to for more information on the award and the alliance.

News from Our Partners

Bathtub Refinishing Hazards Identified

The Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, in conjunction with NIOSH and OSHA, reported 13 deaths nationwide, three of them in Michigan, among bathtub refinishers using methylene chloride-based stripping agents (MMWR 61(07):119–122, Although the hazards of methylene chloride are known, the hazard to workers in the bathtub refinishing industry has not been previously recognized.

Sharps Injuries Among Hospital Worker Data Released

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) is pleased to announce the release of its ninth annual data report, “Sharps Injuries among Hospital Workers in Massachusetts, 2010.” Since 2001, Massachusetts public health regulations have required acute care and rehabilitation hospitals to report sharps injuries to hospital workers to the MDPH annually. The report can be found at or in PDF at

Open for Comments

OSHA is accepting comments on how to prevent worker injuries and deaths from reinforcing concrete activities and vehicle backovers

AIHA is accepting comments for an updated AIHA/ANSI Z10 standard. This standard defines minimum performance requirements for occupational health and safety management systems. Deadline for comment is May 14. To view the draft and the comment form, go to

New Health Hazard Evaluation Reports Now Available

HHE logo Needlestick Injuries Among Employees at a Retail Pharmacy Chain

The HHE program evaluated concerns about pharmacists’ potential exposure to needlestick injuries while administering vaccines in a nationwide retail pharmacy chain. The investigator found that 33 needlestick injuries had been reported across an 11–year period. The company’s policies and procedures were comprehensive, and employees were following good work practices at both of the pharmacies visited. The investigator recommended that managers promote prompt reporting of needlestick injuries and ensure that needlestick injury reports have complete information. Employees were encouraged to promptly dispose of used needles in sharps disposal containers.

Evaluating Preventive Measures at an Indium-Tin Oxide Production Facility

The HHE Program evaluated concerns about the potential lung toxicity of indium compounds at an indium-tin oxide production facility. Two cases of rare lung disease occurred among workers at the facility in 2000 before the current owner purchased the facility. Investigators found that since acquiring the facility the company had made extensive changes, including improving ventilation, adding machine enclosures, and establishing a respiratory protection program. Indium air levels exceeded 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter throughout the facility and were higher in the refinery and reclaim areas. Investigators determined that some current and former workers had abnormalities on medical tests, suggesting work-related health effects. Workers in areas with high indium exposures did not always have more lung abnormalities, which suggests that different types of indium have different health risks. Investigators recommended that (1) managers continue to monitor exposures and monitor workers’ health with medical testing, (2) dust migration from production processes be controlled, and (3) employees wear personal protective equipment as instructed by the employer and report new chest symptoms to the appropriate person.

Links to these HHE reports can be found at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies, Three Injured during Wildland Fire

A volunteer fire fighter suffered third-degree burns over 60% of his body while working at a wildland fire, and he died 11 days later. Three fire fighters were also injured when two fire department brush trucks became stuck in sand and their position was overrun by the fast-moving fire. Factors that contributed to the death and injuries include ineffective training on wildland fire-fighting, ineffective situational awareness, ineffective personal protective equipment, and failure to use a fire shelter from the approaching fire. /niosh/fire/reports/face201110.html

Lieutenant Suffers Fatal Heart Attack During Physical Fitness Training

A career fire lieutenant collapsed during physical fitness training while working a 24-hour shift. He was found by crew members in an unresponsive condition, sitting beside a treadmill. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of physical-fitness training triggered a heart attack, resulting in cardiogenic shock and subsequent hypoxic brain injury. /niosh/fire/reports/face201125.html

Lieutenant Suffers Fatal Stroke Following Training

A volunteer fire lieutenant suffered a stroke a few hours after participating in annual training on using a self-contained breathing apparatus. NIOSH investigators concluded that the lieutenant’s death was likely caused by an ischemic stroke due to a congenital abnormality in the brain’s vascular system, and possibly triggered by the heavy physical exertion required by the training. /niosh/fire/reports/face201126.html

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies, Five Others Injured during Wildland Urban Interface Fire

A volunteer fire fighter died from blunt force trauma while trying to escape from smoky conditions with limited visibility at the scene of a wildland urban interface fire. The fire was about to overrun and consume the brush truck the victim was driving. Five other fire vehicles were attempting to leave the area at the same time, when the victim was either struck or run over in the limited-visibility conditions. NIOSH investigators identified ineffective incident command, ineffective personnel accountability, a lack of situational awareness, ineffective radio communications, failure to use a fire shelter, and weather conditions as contributing factors that led to this fatality. /niosh/fire/reports/face201109.html

Captain Collapses at a Structure/Grass Fire and Dies

A career fire captain suddenly collapsed after assisting with exterior fire suppression operations. The captain was on call when his fire department was dispatched to a grass fire that spread and threatened a dwelling. The captain assisted with the exterior fire suppression operations at the dwelling and surrounding grass for about 13 minutes before he collapsed. He died 9 days after the collapse. /niosh/fire/reports/face201124.html

WTC Health Program Update

Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee Meets

On March 28, the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee held its final meeting before submitting its recommendation to the WTC Program Administrator on the petition to have cancer or types of cancers added to the list of covered conditions for the WTC Health Program. During the meeting, committee members had the opportunity to hear from members of the public and voted on the final recommendations they will make to the Program Administrator. To view the documents from the meeting, and for further updates, go to /niosh/topics/wtc/stac.


Video on Safety for Roughnecks

A new NIOSH video, titled Move It! Rig Move Safety for Roughnecks, raises awareness about hazards to rig workers during tear down and set up of oil and gas drilling rigs. NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Council members saw a need for this product and made their worksites and workers available for the production. The video is available in hard copy as a DVD and can be streamed from the NIOSH YouTube channel. For more information or to become involved in future efforts related to this industry, contact Ryan Hill, Interim Manager, NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program.

r2p Corner

r2p logo NIOSH Lifting Equation—There’s An App For That

A new mobile application based on the widely used NIOSH Lifting Equation has been developed by the company Humantech. For more information about the application, go to, or for information about the NIOSH lifting equation, contact Tom Waters at (513) 533-8147, or Mention of this company name or linking to its Web site does not constitute a NIOSH commercial endorsement.

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

Sleep and Work Risks for Workers

Sleep is a vital biological function, and many Americans don’t get enough. To coincide with National Sleep Awareness Week, the new NIOSH blog post: “Sleep and Work” summarizes the risks to workers, employers and the public when long hours and irregular shifts required by many jobs do not allow workers to get adequate sleep. Read more at

Help Wanted: Spray Foam Insulation Research

Help NIOSH with our research. We need you if you are in the spray foam business. Spray foam contains vapors with unknown health implications. Our researchers are taking air samples at worksites where spray foam is being installed. This research will help us develop interventions to help keep workers healthy. Read more at

Understanding the Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness?

A recent paper by Dr. J. Paul Leigh, University of California at Davis, makes a significant contribution to understanding the economic burden of occupational illness and injury. We welcome your comments and observations on this topic.

Federal Register Notices of Public Meetings and Public Comment

Partnerships to advance the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), notice of public meeting, June 27, Washington D.C.

Proposed data collections submitted for public comment; Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) attributes identified by distribution channel intermediaries. Deadline for comments is May 18.

For a full listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices for 2011, go to /niosh/fedreg.html.

New Communication Products

Spirometry Quality Assurance: Common Errors and Their Impact on Test Results—Spirometry is the most common pulmonary function test, and it plays a central role in occupational respiratory disease surveillance programs. Accurate spirometry testing, interpretation, and follow-up are critical to effective screening and surveillance of workers exposed to respiratory hazards and to the management of patients in the clinical setting. Read more!

Move It! Rig Move Safety for Roughnecks DVD—This 23-minute training and education video covers rig move safety for roughnecks in the oil and gas fields. It helps to make sense of the organized chaos that accompanies a rig move, and it highlights some easy ways to lower the risk of being injured or killed when moving to a new location.

Are You a Teen Worker?—You’re earning your own money. You’re making new friends. You’re learning new things and becoming independent. Work can be a fun, rewarding, and an exciting part of your life. But did you know that your job could harm you?.

Solid Waste Industry Factsheet—Four-page fact sheet on the hazards associated with the solid waste industry, and how health and safety programs, which include hazard recognition and controls, can effectively reduce occupational injuries and illnesses and improve work conditions in the solid waste industry.

NIOSH Fatal Occupational Injury Cost Web-based fact sheets on the following eight industry sectors:


Three Tech News Now Available from the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Research Office

  • #547 Cost-Effective, Off-the-Shelf Wireless Links for Surface Integrated Mine Emergency Communications
  • #548 Bit Isolator Reduces Drilling Noise in Underground Coal Mines
  • #549 MFIRE 3.0 – NIOSH Brings MFIRE into 21st Century

Call for Abstracts

2012 National Conference for Health Statistics
Call for poster abstracts. Deadline for submission, April 16.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. (AAOHN)
April 22–25, Nashville, TN

National Academy of Sciences Colloquium: The Science of Science Communication
May 21–22, Washington DC.

2012 National Conference on Health Statistics
August 6–8. Washington, DC

The American Society of Safety EngineersLook for us!
June 3–5, Denver, CO

The 22nd Annual Social Marketing Conference – Ideas Beyond Borders
June 15–16, Clearwater, FL

American Industrial Hygiene AssociationLook for us!
June 16–21, Indianapolis, IN

American Public Health Association
October 27–31, 2012. San Francisco, CA

Isocyanates and Health: Past, Present and Future
November 1–2, Bethesda, MD

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

Did you know?

One hundred years ago this month, Congress enacted a pioneering occupational health law, the White Phosphorous Match Act of 1912, which led to the elimination, through a safer substitute, of white phosphorous in matches. The research of Carroll Wright, John Andrews, and Alice Hamilton had alerted legislators and the public to the toll of “phossy jaw,” a painful and disfiguring occupational disease in match-factory workers caused by oral exposure to white phosphorous. The text of the law, also known as the Esch Act, can be found at

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.