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NIOSH eNews – August 2011


Volume 9 Number 4 August 2011


From the Director’s Desk

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

Highlights From the NORA 2011 Symposium: Achieving Impact Through Research and Partnerships

In July, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) community hosted a symposium on achieving impact through research and partnerships. Over 200 partners and stakeholders attended the symposium, which was sponsored by NIOSH and the University of Cincinnati and also recognized 15 years of NORA.

The symposium agenda was strategically designed to allow researchers and partners to quickly and effectively share their stories about their research, innovation, and partnerships for research and outreach. One of the pleasures in participating in a NORA symposium is the opportunity to see, first-hand, the passion that the NORA community brings to its mission of advancing and using new research to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

The symposium featured two key note speakers; Dr. James Dearing from Kaiser Permanente and Jordan Barab, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Dr. Dearing’s keynote congratulated the NORA sector-based approach for bringing those together who could accomplish diffusion of research results and challenged all researchers to learn and apply the many additional lessons he outlined from the field of Diffusion of Innovations. Mr. Barab spoke of the realities of the current systems for regulation, enforcement, and compliance assistance and emphasized the necessity for new research results to point the way toward future improvements in occupational safety and health.

The annual NORA Awards were presented during the symposium and celebrated accomplishments of University of Washington researchers in effective training in hearing loss prevention devices, and of researchers of The Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health in leveraging resources to reduce deaths and injuries due to farm tractor rollovers (/nora/symp11/award11.html). Additionally updates of 2008 NORA Award winning projects (/nora/symp08/award08.html) reminded us of their successes and inspired us by their accomplishments in research and outreach, and by their determination and ingenuity in addressing the constraints often inherent in real workplaces.

In a special session on impact, Barbara Braun of the Joint Commission and Vern Anderson of NIOSH spoke of the high hopes and sober realities of new developing partnership efforts made possible by the sector-based approach of NORA. Additionally, Janie Gittleman of The Center for Construction Research and Training-CPWR highlighted some of the many research-to-practice accomplishments of their well-established and very successful partnership with NIOSH and many others.

NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard welcomes NORA symposium attendees

NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard welcomes NORA symposium attendees

Another special session focused on partnerships. Max Lum, former NIOSH Associate Director for Health Communication, described the many facets of r2p. Additionally three researchers described the innovative and unique opportunities they have developed from their university base to successfully impact workers’ lives: Carol Rice, University of Cincinnati; Margaret Quinn, University of Massachusetts at Lowell; and Pam Tau Lee, University of California Berkeley (retired).

Posters and breakout sessions also encouraged small group discussions of research and partnership opportunities. Finally, a NIOSH-maintained collection of historical industrial hygiene equipment anchored a brief commemoration of the 40th anniversary of NIOSH and OSHA and the 15th anniversary of NORA.

The success of the Symposium propels us to greater effort and accomplishments in the difficult but rewarding work of developing and benefitting from partnerships between researchers, practitioners, employers, and workers for the improved health of workers. The plenary presentations are available to watch online at I invite you to view the presentations. If you are not already a partner under NORA, I encourage you to join us as we advance through the second half of NORA’s second decade.

Join Us! NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference, September 2011

The NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference will be held September 7–8 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The purpose of the conference is to serve as a national call for action to identify and develop partnerships to improve occupational safety and health in manufacturing. It is cosponsored by the NORA Manufacturing Sector Council and the University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health and Education and Research Center. Registration is now open at More information on the manufacturing sector is available at /nora/councils/manuf/pubprod.html. Please join us and become a prevention partner for occupational safety and health in manufacturing!

Register Now! Manual Materials Handling Workshop

Join NIOSH for the upcoming Manual Materials Handling Workshop: Matching Solutions to Problems, October 11–12, at the Hyatt Regency in Cincinnati, Ohio. The purpose of the workshop is to develop, through roundtable discussions, engineering solutions for manual materials handling jobs in retail, wholesale, and warehouse industries. This workshop is jointly sponsored by the NORA Wholesale and Retail Trade Sector and the NORA Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities Sector. To register or for more information go to

Join Us For the 2011 Prevention through Design Conference

Register now for the 2011 Prevention through Design Conference: A New Way of Doing Business – Report on the National Initiative, August 22-24 in Washington D.C. The conference marks the mid-point of the PtD National Initiative and will take stock of the nation’s progress in improving worker safety and health through the inclusion of prevention methods in all designs that impact workers and additionally the conference will identify areas that may require additional focus. To register or for more information go to /niosh/topics/PtD/.

New eNews Features Highlights NIOSH Fatality Investigations Reports

This month, NIOSH eNews is adding two new features in the “Around NIOSH” section. These new feature sections will highlight new investigation reports from the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program and the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP). The FACE program focuses on preventing fatal occupational injuries across the nation by identifying and conducting research investigations of workplace fatality cases and then formulating and disseminating strategies to prevent future deaths. The FFFIPP shares the same goal as the FACE program but focuses its research investigations on fire fighter line-of-duty deaths and selected injuries. More information on the FACE program is available at /niosh/face and the FFFIPP program at /niosh/fire.

New Study Looks at Slip-Resistant Shoes in Food Service Industry

NIOSH has begun a randomized controlled trial to study the effectiveness of slip-resistant shoes in reducing slips and falls injuries in the food service industry. ARAMARK, a company in the food service industry, is collaborating in this NIOSH-led research by providing access to its workforce. The study involves the participation of approximately 4,000 employees and will continue for 3 years. For more information, contact Jennifer Bell at

Global Workshop Focuses on Healthcare Worker Safety

NIOSH researchers Drs. Ahmed Gomaa and Maria Lioce-Mata and Pan American Health Organization’s Marie-Claude Lavoie conducted a workshop in Grenada to prepare leaders in the healthcare field to provide programming on prevention of exposure to blood-borne infections and other occupational exposures, to evaluate and make recommendations on policies to protect healthcare workers, and to establish a regional occupational health and safety network among healthcare professionals. The workshop was attended by 33 hospital infection control and preventive medicine health professionals from nine Caribbean countries.

Manuscript Available on NIOSH Deepwater Horizon Response Efforts

NIOSH work on the Deepwater Horizon response is highlighted in a new manuscript, “Protecting Workers in Large-Scale Emergency Responses: NIOSH Experience in the Deepwater Horizon Response,” published in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The article describes NIOSH’s activities in the Deepwater Horizon Response and its cooperative efforts with the Unified Area Command, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other federal, state, and local partners who worked to protect response workers. Go to /niosh/updates/upd-07-18-11a.html for more information.

September 2011 is Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Month

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently proclaimed September 2011 as Occupational Health and Safety Month to recognize the importance of the first national conference on Eliminating Health and Safety Disparities at Work, September 14–15 in Chicago, co-sponsored by NIOSH. The conference will bring together representatives from multiple disciplines and perspectives to understand the causes of occupational health and safety disparities and to identify and share promising practices for eliminating disparities through innovative intervention programs. The second day of the conference will include an interagency town hall meeting on environmental justice in the work environment, convened by the Working Group on Environmental Justice (, to explore interagency solutions for alleviating health disparities in the workplace setting. For more information or to register, go to

Call for Nominations: 2012 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards. The awards are given by NIOSH in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) to recognize excellence in hearing loss prevention. The deadline for self-nominations is September 1. Additional information is available at

WTC Health Program Updates

The First Periodic Review of Scientific and Medical Evidence Related to Cancer for the World Trade Center Health Program was released in July. The report and the Federal Register Notice for the report are available at /niosh/topics/wtc/prc/prc-1.html.

Federal Register Notices

Public Meeting Announced on Draft Diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione Criteria Document

NIOSH announced it will hold a public meeting to discuss and obtain comments on the draft document, Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione, on Friday, August 26th at 8 a.m. at the Omni Shoreham, Washington, DC. A copy of the draft document will be posted at /niosh/docket/review/docket245/default.html and on the NIOSH docket home page (/niosh/docket/) as docket number NIOSH-245.

A list of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices for 2011 is available at /niosh/fedreg.html.

New Health Hazard Evaluation Reports Now Available

HHE logo Ergonomic Evaluation of Automatic Flat Sorting Machines

HHE Program investigators evaluated potential musculoskeletal hazards among employees who work on automatic flat sorting machines at a postal facility. Investigators found that employees are at risk for work-related shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand injuries due to awkward postures, forceful exertions, and repetitive motions. Employees are also at risk for work-related back injuries due to lifting, twisting movements of the trunk, and bending at the waist. Investigators recommended designing work surface heights to be 27–62 inches high and designing lifts to be less than or equal to 27 pounds. Investigators also recommended incorporating job tasks that do not require lifting or repetitive grip into work rotations and allowing employees to provide input on scheduling, pacing, and job design. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2008-0293-3132.pdf

Evaluation of Chemical Hazards and Noise Exposures at a Drum Refurbishing Plant

Investigators with the HHE Program evaluated employees’ concerns of noise, respiratory irritation, chemical burns, and headaches at a chemical storage drum refurbishing plant. Investigators measured trimethyl benzene levels above occupational exposure limits in the tote wash department; all other air sampling results were below occupational exposure limits. All noise exposures were above the NIOSH recommended exposure limit and the OSHA action level. Investigators recommended that managers use a less hazardous solvent for cleaning totes and drums and install local exhaust ventilation where drums and totes are emptied and cleaned. Partially enclosing or installing a barrier where drums and totes are pressure washed was also recommended to reduce noise levels. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2010-0031-3130.pdf

Evaluation of Police Officers’ Exposures to Chemicals While Working Inside a Drug Vault

HHE Program investigators evaluated symptoms among police department employees who work in a drug evidence vault. Investigators found drug particles in the air and on surfaces that could present a potential health risk to employees. Investigators sampled the air for inorganic acids that could come from drugs stored in the vault and found levels that were well below applicable occupational exposure limits. The volatile organic compounds measured in the air were components of marijuana; at the levels found, most of those are unlikely to cause health effects. Investigators recommended improving housekeeping practices, cleaning contaminated surfaces with environmentally friendly cleaners, and disposing of drugs more frequently to reduce potential exposures. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2010-0017-3133.pdf

Evaluation of Health Concerns in a Public Middle School

Investigators from the HHE Program evaluated middle school employees’ concerns about exposure to mold. Investigators did not directly link employees’ symptoms and illnesses to the conditions found in the school building, but the crawl space under the renovated section of the school was a potential source of mold and dampness. Investigators recommended that managers add crawl space fans to move air from the school into the crawl space and add a moisture barrier between the crawl space and the school. Employees were encouraged to see an experienced occupational medicine physician for any health concerns that may be work-related. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2010-0045-3129.pdf

New Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Report Now Available

Hispanic Day Laborer Electrocuted When an Aluminum Extension Ladder Contacted an Overhead Power Line—New Jersey

The ladder, missing a pulley to adjust the length, had been retrieved from a pile of damaged ladders at the general contractor’s storage yard. The worker, an immigrant from Guatemala, had been on the job for only three days. /niosh/face/stateface/nj/06NJ076.html

Two New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Fatality Investigation Reports Now Available

Fire Fighters Found Unresponsive at a Residential Structure Fire—Connecticut

Failure to effectively monitor and respond to Mayday radio transmissions, less-than-effective Mayday training, inadequate SCBA air management, and possible underlying medical conditions were among the factors that contributed to the deaths of two career fire fighters in Connecticut./niosh/fire/reports/face201018.html

Fire Fighter Suffers Heart Attack While Fighting Grass Fire—California

The physical stress of responding to 20 calls while working 58 straight hours and performing fire suppression activities at the grass fire triggered a heart attack that led to the fire fighter’s death. Had some of the recommended programs been implemented, specifically incorporating exercise stress tests into the fire department’s medical evaluation program, it is possible the fire fighter’s death could have been prevented. /niosh/fire/reports/face201101.html


Comments Wanted on NORA Processes

As NORA reaches the halfway point of its second decade, NIOSH is conducting a review of the processes of NORA to learn how adjustments can be made to maximize outcomes through 2016. We are interested in your comments on NORA processes, activities and accomplishments, and suggestions for the future. Please submit your comments by August 31, 2011 (/niosh/docket/review/docket244/). Please email if you have any questions.

r2p Corner

r2p logo Using YouTube to Communicate Worker Safety and Health Information

The recently released NIOSH video, “Man Overboard: Prevention and Recovery”, is now available on YouTube. Through the use of YouTube, NIOSH has a greater potential to raise awareness of the second leading cause of death in commercial fishing and how to prevent and effectively respond to overboard events. This video is approximately 17 minutes long and was available only on DVD until recently. To view the video, go to To learn more about Man Overboard: Prevention and Recovery, contact Ted Teske at To stay apprised of occupational safety and health issues in the fishing industry, follow the NIOSH Fishing Program on Twitter: @NIOSHFishing.

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

‘Horrible Bosses,’ Workplace Violence in the Real World

Each week in the United States, an average of 33,000 workers are assaulted on the job and 14 are murdered. Moviegoers were reminded of the issue of work stress and violence recently by the film “Horrible Bosses.” NIOSH and its partners are part of a broad-based initiative to reduce the incidence of occupational violence in this country. We would like to hear from you. Has your workplace implemented violence prevention strategies? Are they working? Comment at /niosh/blog/nsb071811_workviolence.html.

Pleuropulmonary Disease in a Polyacrylate Facility

Recent reports from India have reported on a potentially new and emerging occupational respiratory hazard resulting in interstitial lung disease and pneumothorax. The reports implicate high exposures to fine dusts created by grinding polyacrylate polymer as the most likely cause. The outbreak highlights the ongoing dangers to workers handling active, fine powdered materials in the workplace and the critical importance of implementing adequate protective measures. Effective application of the hierarchy of controls — elimination of hazardous materials and substitution of safer ones when available; engineering controls to prevent exposures; administrative controls, including safe work practices; and appropriate use of personal protective equipment are all important elements in the control of worker exposures when handling fine dusts. Read more on the NIOSH Science Blog /niosh/blog/.

New Communication Products

Spirometry Poster Available in Multi Languages

The NIOSH publication Get Valid Spirometry Results EVERY Time (Pub. No. 2011-135) is now available in Indonesian (/niosh/docs/2011-135/2011-135indo.html) and Portuguese (/niosh/docs/2011-135/2011-135port.html).

Bird Flu Report Available in French

Protecting Poultry Workers from Avian Influenza (Pub. No. 2008-128) is now available in French /niosh/docs/2008-128/2008-128french.html.


A full list of all new NIOSH communication products is available at /niosh/whatsnew/

Call for Abstracts

Professional Conference on Industrial Hygiene (PCIH)
Call for poster abstracts. Deadline for submission is August 19.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

5th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
August 9–11, Atlanta, GA

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

International Association of Firefighters Redmond Symposium—Look for us!
August 14–19, New York, NY

66th Annual Workers’ Compensation Conference & 23rd Annual Safety & Health Conference—Look for us booth 1130!
August 21–24, Orlando, FL

Prevention Through Design Conference—A New Way of Doing Business: A Report on the National Initiative
August 22–24, Washington, DC

CIB W099 Prevention: Means to the End of Construction Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
August 24–26, Washington, D.C.

NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference: Partnerships to Improve Occupational Safety and Health
September 7–8, Cincinnati, OH

Healthier Federal Workers 2011
September 14–16, Washington DC

Eliminating Health and Safety Disparities at Work
September 14–15, Chicago, IL

Association of Occupational Professionals in Healthcare —Look for us!
September 28–October 1, Minneapolis, MN

Pennsylvania Governors Occupational Safety and Health Conference—Look for us!
October 3–4, Hershey PA

Manual Materials Handling Workshop: Matching Solutions to Problems
October 11–12, Cincinnati, OH

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

139th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA)
October 29-November 2, Washington, DC

National Safety Council—Look for us!
October 31–November 2, Philadelphia, PA

5th International Entertainment Education Conference (EE5
November 17–20, New Delhi

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

Word of the Month

Polyacrylate — a broad category of polymers, commonly used to make plastics noted for their transparency and resistance to breakage and elasticity. In their salt form, polyacrylates are used to make superabsorbent gels capable of absorbing and retaining extremely large amounts of a liquid relative to their own mass. (Source and Accessed August 1, 2011)

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.