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NIOSH eNews – January 2012


Volume 9 Number 9 January 2012


From the Director’s Desk

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

Looking Ahead with 2020 Vision

As we enter the first weeks of 2012, many of us are planning our activities in the New Year. We will review our obligations to family and friends, decide how much money we will save or spend in the coming 12 months, and resolve to exercise more and follow a healthier diet.

On a larger scale, public agencies and private businesses will make similar resolutions. The individual decides how many calories per day and how much physical activity per week will produce the optimum balance of health. The agency or the business looks at budget, staffing, and customer expectations to set comparable organizational goals of staying healthy and responsive.

NIOSH and other agencies routinely conduct this kind of relatively near-term planning under the federal budget cycle. In any given fiscal year, we allocate our current funding, offer input into the planning for next fiscal year’s federal budget, and anticipate our needs for the year after that. However, as an agency with responsibilities in science and public policy, NIOSH is also challenged to have an even longer range of vision.

The factors that affect our work—the dynamics of science and technology, the economy, and the demographics of the U.S. workforce—continually change. Today’s world is not the same world that existed a decade ago. We can expect that the world at the end of the current decade, in 2020, will not be the world of 2012. In order to remain relevant and effective over the long haul, we must anticipate those changes to the best of our ability. We must consider what will be the most important workplace safety and health issues to be addressed in 2020 and what kind of organization we will need to be—with what kinds of skills, expertise, and goals—in order to seize the opportunities that change always presents.

Internally, we in NIOSH have asked ourselves the question, “What kind of institute will NIOSH be in 2020 and beyond?” The answer to that question is tied to the larger question: “What factors will influence the workforce and the world of work over the next several years?” The following influences seem likely:

  • Almost certainly, the pace of technological change will accelerate, and new synergies will be achieved across different technologies and disciplines. These changes will task NIOSH to address the occupational safety and health implications of dramatically new technologies.
  • The U.S. workforce will continue to be increasingly diverse, with correspondingly diverse health and safety needs.
  • The workforce will become more “chronologically gifted,” as people are living longer, the minimum retirement age is increasing, and a poor economy keeps people in the workforce. The workplace of the future must anticipate the changes needed to accommodate mature workers.
  • The workforce will grow at a relatively slow rate as the “baby boomer” generation retires, with implications for productivity and the economy.
  • Chronic health conditions on the rise in the general population, such as a projected increase in U.S. obesity rates in the coming decade, will have an impact on the workplace as well.
  • Workplaces will become increasingly decentralized, and the majority of jobs will settle in the service, healthcare, and information technology sectors, which often are misperceived as “safe” industries. At the same time, historically hazardous jobs in the traditional heavy industries will continue to exist, and classic types of occupational hazards may surge as the U.S. seeks new energy resources and new energy technologies.
  • Balancing work and family demands, coping with a hectic pace of work, and facing job insecurities could exacerbate work stress and other potentially debilitating and costly psychosocial problems in the workplace.

We and our partners have made a start in trying to prepare for these challenges. For example, the lessons we have learned in addressing the occupational safety and health implications of nanotechnology suggest a model for anticipating the implications of other emerging technologies. The challenges of an increasingly diverse workforce have already stimulated efforts to develop appropriate health and safety training for men and women from different cultures, to design appropriate personal protective equipment for different shapes and sizes, and to eliminate health disparities.

The challenges of designing safe and healthful working environments for aging workers, of anticipating the capabilities of tomorrow’s workers, and of relieving stress in the hectic world of the 21st century would seem, superficially, to be separate problems. However, at a fundamental level, all of these challenges suggest that we can achieve greater success by approaching workplace health protection and workplace-based health promotion holistically, rather than relegating them to separate corners of the room in public policy and business administration. This is the aim of the Total Worker Health™ initiative, a transformational strategy for the modern workplace (/niosh/TWH/).

We believe that the basic values of NIOSH will continue to serve us well as guiding principles over the next decade. These include the right of working people to safe and healthful working conditions, NIOSH’s respect for partnerships, and the critical need for forward-looking, scientifically rigorous research. We value the transfer of knowledge into effective tools and practices for reducing work-related injuries and illnesses, and we recognize the need to invest our resources wisely. We value NIOSH’s reputation and unique position as a federal agency charged with leading government research on occupational safety and health. Building on those strengths, we anticipate that our priorities as we move toward the year 2020 will include:

  • Identifying work-related hazards in a timely way and developing effective solutions.
  • Conducting high-impact research and translating the results into effective practices.
  • Disseminating timely, useful information.
  • Leveraging our research and services to support effective public policy and private-sector practices.
  • Partnering in research to assess the economic burden of occupational injuries and illnesses and the positive economic impact of keeping the workforce healthy.
  • Supporting the development and maintenance of a trained, capable cadre of occupational safety and health professionals.

A popular song from the 1960s advised the listener to “forget about tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes.” In reality, tomorrow always comes, and it usually comes sooner than expected. We will keep you updated as we continue to refine our goals for NIOSH, and we invite your comments and suggestions in the meantime.

NIOSH Announces New Lab Director and Deputy Division Director Vacancies

Deputy Director of Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Morgantown, WV

Research health scientists or industrial hygienists who are current and former federal employees may apply at All others may apply at Physicians who are current and former federal employees may apply at All others may apply at Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applications must be received no later than January 13, 2012.

Director, National Personal Protective Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA

Physical scientists or general engineers who are current and former federal employees may apply at All others may apply at Interested Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers are also invited to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applications must be received no later than January 19, 2012.

Partners Wanted to Collaborate on Engineering Control Technology Projects

NIOSH’s Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch, Division of Applied Research and Technology, is in need of partnerships with construction companies willing to provide site access for conducting engineering control studies of the technologies listed below. Interested companies should contact the project officer for more information:

  • Dowel drilling (gang drilling) in concrete pavement with either of the original equipment manufacturers’ dust collection systems in use. Contact Alan Echt (
  • Evaluation of a portable spray booth for containment and removal of overspray fumes and vapors during spray polyurethane foam insulation application. Contact David Marlow (

NIOSH Skin Permeation Calculator Updated

Through partnership with the University of Cincinnati, the NIOSH Skin Permeation Calculator has been updated with enhanced features and a new user interface. The improved calculator allows for simulation of typical occupational exposure scenarios. The calculator estimates fluxes, skin concentrations, and amounts absorbed from any size dose applied to partially or fully hydrated skin. The calculator is available on the NIOSH Web site at /niosh/topics/skin/finiteSkinPermCalc.html.

Deepwater Horizon Roster Summary Report Available

NIOSH has released the Deepwater Horizon Roster Summary Report. This new report describes the nature of the workforce that responded to onshore and offshore cleanup and containment activities following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, April 2010. Read more at /niosh/updates/upd-12-19-11.html.

NIOSH Twitter One of Most Popular OSH Feeds

One of the most popular social media sites for news on occupational safety and health is still going strong, states an article from the OHS online magazine, referring to the NIOSH twitter site. NIOSH Twitter ( currently has over 141,000 followers. Read more at

2012 Society of Exposure Science Meeting Announced

NIOSH announces the International Society of Exposure Science 2012 annual meeting that will take place in Seattle, Washington, October 28 to November 1. The meeting will be co-chaired by Brian Curwin of NIOSH. The meeting theme is Lessons Learned: Contributions of Exposure Science to Environmental and Occupational Health. For information about the meeting, go to or contact Brian Curwin at 513-841-4432 or

Auntminnie Talks About Black Lung, a Web site for radiologists and professionals in the medical imaging industry, recently published an article highlighting a NIOSH study comparing the quality of results from CR and film-screen radiography for monitoring pneumoconiosis. Dr. Anthony Laney, of the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies and lead author on the study, was interviewed for the story, which is available at To read the highlighted study, go to

WTC Health Program Updates

Recognizing One Year Anniversary of 9/11 Bill

January 2, 2012, marks the one-year anniversary of the signing of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 into law. In the first year, the World Trade Center Health Program has worked closely with stakeholders and other partners to meet its responsibilities under the Act and to fund services to responders and survivors defined by the legislation. To view the update from the program on the work that has been completed and what we are working toward in the next six months, go to /niosh/updates/upd-12-30-11.html

NIOSH Congratulates….

Health Effects Lab Publication Recognized by Faculty of 1000
An article by researchers in the NIOSH Health Effects Laboratory Division was evaluated by the Faculty of 1000 (F1000) and placed in the top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine in the F1000 library. The article “Manganese Accumulation in Nail Clippings as a Biomarker of Welding Fume Exposure and Neurotoxicity,” originally published in Toxicology (Nov 9, 2011), authored by Krishnan Sriram, Gary Lin, Amy Jefferson, Jenny Roberts, Ronnee Andrews, Michael Kashon, and James Antonini, is available online at The F1000 is a post-publication peer review service widely used to find significant new research articles that are deemed novel and of great interest to the scientific community.

News from Our Partners

Washington Updates Occupational Mortality Database

The Washington State Department of Health, Office of Epidemiology, recently updated its online Occupational Mortality Database. Originally a collaboration between NIOSH and Washington State, the updated database now contains data for deaths occurring in Washington State between 1950 and 2010. The Web site allows the user to investigate associations between occupations and causes of death. To access the Washington Occupational Mortality Database, please go to or contact Dr. Eric Ossiander at

Wisconsin Youth Promote Workplace Safety

The Wisconsin Department of Health Service’s Occupational Health Surveillance (OHS) program partnered with Operation Fresh Start, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth obtain educational and job skills, to develop a work safety program. Products developed by the students include a safety poster, toolbox talk cards, and a safety manual. Knowledge learned and outputs developed during these activities are being shared with other Operation Fresh Start programs throughout Wisconsin. The poster and toolbox cards can be accessed through the OHS web page at

New Health Hazard Evaluation Reports Now Available

HHE logo Evaluation of Lead Exposure at an Indoor Firing Range

HHE Program investigators evaluated concerns about lead exposures and indoor environmental quality problems at an indoor firing range. Investigators found that airflow along and downrange of the firing line did not meet NIOSH recommendations. Investigators found that exposure for one instructor, one shooter, and the hazardous materials technician were above the occupational exposure limits for lead for an 8-hour time-weighted average. Surface wipe and floor vacuum samples detected lead in various places. Investigators recommended installing a ventilation system that can deliver the NIOSH-recommended airflow at the firing line and downrange. Investigators recommended removing all carpet and using an explosion-proof vacuum cleaner with high-efficiency particulate air filters to clean the range instead of dry sweeping.

Ergonomic and Safety Climate Evaluation at a Brewery

HHE Program investigators evaluated concerns about musculoskeletal disorders on the can line and in the bottle depalletization areas at a brewery. Investigators determined that employees were at an increased risk for upper extremity work-related musculoskeletal disorders due to awkward postures, forceful exertions, and repetitive motions. Some employees reported that they felt uncomfortable reporting safety incidents or expressing their safety concerns. Investigators recommended that work areas be designed to have a working height between 27-62 inches and add rotating platforms to the height-adjustable lifts. Investigators also recommended employees be encouraged to report complaints and concerns.

Unknown Gases Generated from a Silicon Wafer Grinding Filtration Process

HHE Program investigators received a request from a semiconductor manufacturing plant because unknown gases had pressurized and heated a covered storage drum containing used filters from a silicon wafer grinding filtration process. Inside the drums, investigators measured hydrogen at concentrations up to 118,000 parts per million and silane at concentrations of 20 to 50 parts per million and also found carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Investigators determined that disposing of used filters from the silicon wafer grinding filtration process in covered drums can pose a health and safety hazard for employees and recommended that drums be left uncovered to prevent the buildup of gases.

Formaldehyde Exposures during Brazilian Blowout Hair Smoothing Treatment at a Hair Salon

HHE Program investigators assessed salon employees’ exposure to formaldehyde when performing hair smoothing treatments using Brazilian Blowout® hair products. Investigators found that during hair smoothing treatments employees’ exposures to formaldehyde in air exceeded the ceiling limits set by NIOSH and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Investigators determined that the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, Formaldehyde Free Smoothing Formula, contained 11% formaldehyde. Investigators recommended that managers stop using the product.

Links to the reports from these HHEs can be found at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Lieutenant Dies from Injuries Received after Vehicle Undergoing Maintenance Crushes Him

This incident occurred in Massachusetts while the fire fighter was performing maintenance on a newly acquired fire department sport utility vehicle (SUV) in a parking lot adjacent to the fire station. The fire fighter had lifted the SUV with a portable floor jack. While lying on a creeper, the victim positioned himself under the vehicle and was just beginning to remove the oil drain plug when the SUV slipped off the jack and came down on him. The victim was working alone and the fire department did not have written standard operating procedures covering vehicle maintenance. /niosh/fire/reports/face201119.html


Solid Waste Workers

A priority of the NORA Services Sector Council is to reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among solid waste workers. As a result of council activities, David Utterback, NIOSH, and David Biderman, National Solid Wastes Management Association and council member, along with others, have presented safety and health surveillance data and program information at two recent Waste Expo annual meetings and at the 2011 Waste Con annual meeting. Dr. Utterback has been invited to present a webinar in January 2012 for the Solid Waste Association of North America. Since 2003, the overall occupational injury and illness rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the solid waste industry has declined by 48% and many in the industry are working to continue the trend. Contact for more information.

Worker Safety and Patient Safety

The Joint Commission, an influential organization that accredits and certifies healthcare organizations and programs in the United States, recently published a Sentinel Event Alert ( that highlights the role of worker fatigue in reducing patient and worker safety. Increasing the awareness of the links between patient safety and worker safety in healthcare has been a goal of the NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance Council, which is working with The Joint Commission on the issue. For more information or to become involved, contact John Decker (, coordinator of the NIOSH Healthcare and Social Assistance Program.

r2p Corner

r2p logo Engineering Controls for Reduction of Silica Dust

NIOSH researchers identified occupational health risks for respirable crystalline silica exposure at hydraulic fracturing sites in five states (CO, ND, OK, PA, and TX). To control exposures, the researchers conceived two engineering designs to contain silica-containing respirable dust associated with sand-moving equipment at hydraulic fracturing well sites. The first control is the minibaghouse retrofit assembly; the second control is a more extensive engineering retrofit called the screw augur assembly. Used in tandem, both are anticipated to control respirable silica generation up to 90%. For more information, contact Eric Esswein at (303)236-5946 or, Michael Breitenstein at (513)533-8290 or, or John Snawder at (513) 533-8496 or

NIOSH and IFA Enter into New Partnership Agreement

NIOSH and the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) recently signed a partnership agreement to pursue collaborative efforts to advance the protection of workers and promote best practices to improve worker safety and health. Dr. Dietmar Breuer of IFA is working closely with Dr. Kevin Ashley of NIOSH to exchange information and to harmonize procedures that are used to evaluate worker exposures to airborne chemical agents. For more information, contact Kevin Ashley at (513) 841-4402 or

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

Respiratory Protection for Workers Handling Engineered Nanoparticles


Federal Register Notices

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

New Communication Products

Deepwater Horizon Roster Summary Report

This report describes the nature of the workforce that responded to onshore and offshore cleanup and containment activities following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. /niosh/docs/2011-175/

Research and Practice for Fall Injury Control in the Workplace

Proceedings from the International Conference on Fall Prevention and Protection, held in May of 2010, with the goal of reducing the incidence of injury from work-related falls. /niosh/docs/2012-103/

Chartbook of Injuries, Illnesses, & Fatalities in Wholesale and Retail Trade

A summary of fatal and nonfatal injury/illness information describing a large population of understudied workplaces and workers: the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector. /niosh/docs/2012-106/

A Story of Impact: NIOSH Pesticide Poisoning Monitoring Program Protects Farmworkers

Real example of how the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks-Pesticides Program (SENSOR-Pesticides) is used to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses associated with occupational pesticide exposure. /niosh/docs/2012-108/

Automotive Repair and Maintenance Services—Advancing Priorities through Research and Partnerships

Identifies health and safety issues for workers in the automotive repair and maintenance services industries and resources for helping reduce injury and illness risks of these workers. /niosh/docs/2012-114/

Call for Abstracts

XXXth International Symposium of the ISSA Construction Section on Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry
Call for papers. Deadline for submission is January 15.

2012 CDC National Cancer Conference
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is January 18.

Nanotech Conference & Expo, 2012
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is January 27.

2012 NSC Congress & Expo—Celebration of the Century
Call for presentations. Deadline for submission is February 3.

National Conference for Workplace Violence Prevention & Management in Healthcare Settings
Call for papers, posters, and symposia. Deadline for submission is February 17.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Engineered Solutions for Manual Handling Jobs
February 8–9, 2012, Atlanta, GA

Society of Toxicology Conference
March 11–15, San Francisco, CA

30th International Congress on Occupational Health, Occupational Health for All: From Research to Practice
March 18–23, 2012, Cancun, Mexico

Personal Protective Equipment Selection, Use, and Expectations: NIOSH PPT Stakeholder Meeting
March 20–21, 2012, Pittsburgh, PA

Association of periOperative Registered Nurses 59th Annual Congress—Look for us Booth 6053!
March 24–29, 2012, New Orleans, LA

22nd Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference
April 11–15, San Diego, CA

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) 2012 National Conference
April 22–25, Nashville, TN

American Occupational Health Conference (AOHC)
April 29–May 2, Los Angeles, CA

Nanotech Conference and Expo 2012
June 18–21, Santa Clara, CA

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

Word of the Month

Total Worker Health™ — is a strategy integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being. /niosh/TWH/

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.