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Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health


Newsletter on Occupational & Environmental Health

Spring/Summer 2014

NIOSH Project to Control Exposures to Nanomaterials


his primer on worker exposure to nanomaterials summarizes information from a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) publication published this year focusing on identifying and describing strategies for engineering control of worker exposure during the production or use of engineered nanomaterials. The authors are listed below. NIOSH is the United States federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness and is a part of the CDC. According to NIOSH director John Howard, M.D., current nanotechnology research largely focuses on understanding the toxicology of emerging nanomaterials as well as exposure assessment. Very little research, however, has been conducted on hazard control for exposures to nanomaterials.

A simple hood capturing powder from a mixing tank in a nanomaterial production facility. Photo by NIOSH.


Engineered nanomaterials are materials intentionally produced and have at least one primary dimension less than 100 nanometers (nm). Nanomaterials have properties different from those of larger particles of the same material, making them unique and desirable for specific product applications. The consumer products market currently has more than a thousand nanomaterial-containing products including makeup, sunscreen, food storage products, appliances, clothing, electronics, computers, sporting goods and coatings. It is difficult to estimate how many workers are involved in this field. By one estimate, there are 400,000 workers worldwide in the field of nanotechnology, with an estimated 150,000 of those in the United States. Note: The National Science Foundation estimates approximately six million workers will be employed in nanotechnology industries worldwide by 2020. Occupational health risks associated with manufacturing and using nanomaterials are not yet clearly understood. However, initial toxicological data indicates there is reason for caution. NIOSH is committed to promoting the responsible

continued on page 2 - Nanomaterials


Climate Change & Worker Safety


here is solid scientific consensus the earth’s climate is changing due to emissions from human activity. National and international health and climate experts have cataloged several interconnected health outcomes. These include frequent, intense and longer-lasting extreme heat, which worsens drought, wildfire and air pollution; risks, frequent, extreme precipitation, intense storms, and changes in precipitation patterns that lead to drought and ecosystem changes and rising sea levels that intensify coastal flooding and storm surge. Multi-stressor situations, such as impacts on vulnerable populations following natural disasters, also damage the social and physical infrastructure necessary for resilience and emergency response and are particularly important to consider when preparing for the impacts of climate change on human health. Each of these events is Some models suggest expected to have dramatic impact on human health - directly and indirectly. European-style heat There is evidence climate change is already having an impact. In 1998, waves may be a hurricane dropped six feet of rain in three days in Central America. In its common by 2040 wake, the incidence of malaria, dengue fever and cholera soared. A summer heat wave in Europe in 2003 lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, withered crops, and melted ten percent of the Alpine glacial mass. The 2006 California heat wave was responsible for 655 excess heat fatalities, 140 coroner-confirmed heat deaths and more than 12,000 emergency hospitalizations. Climate models predict North American heat waves will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration as global mean temperatures rise throughout the century. (Some models suggest European-style heat waves may be common by 2040). Climate induced health outcomes are systematically interwoven. One example is warming and unstable climate patterns. Less frequent but more intense precipitation events have dire consequences for food supply and play an ever increasing role in the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases. Since 1976, thirty new infectious diseases have joined surging rates of long-established diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and cholera. Worldwide, malaria and tuberculosis account for four to seven million deaths a year. Why is this associated with climate change? Most vector-borne disease (mosquito, tick and flea) are intimately connected to seasonal weather patterns. Take, for example, the mosquito. Higher temperatures increase their rate of reproduction, the number of meals they take, lengthen their breeding season and shorten the maturation period for the pathogens they carry.

continued on page 2 - Climate Change


Spring/Summer • 2014

Climate Change - continued from page 1

as well with United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse D-RI, a leading proponent of preparing for climate change.

Everyone is vulnerable to these health outcomes but the health effects of climate change will be a stress multiplier for already vulnerable populations such as infants, children and those in poverty. It will also place additional stress on many occupations from recovery workers to health care workers and emergency responders.

There are currently three areas where progress can be made A first step is increase public awareness of groups like the White House’s Interagency Group on Climate Change and Human Health as well as local and state projects and programs that deal with climate change. State representative Art Handy D-Cranston has introduced a bill to provide a comprehensive and coordinated state response to climate change. The Rhode Island senate is preparing a similar bill. The Rhode Island Health and Climate Change Project funded through the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) aims to develop public health adaptation strategies, involve active participation by stakehold­ers, and address the needs of vulnerable populations. We need to impress upon the (CDC) as they develop the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework to assess potential burdens of disease and other outcomes resulting from climate projections, that occupational health and safety issues be included in this framework. And thirdly, it is important to explore how we can imbed health and safety plans and training within local and state preparedness to protect public sector workers and, secondly require, through bid and awards by local and state agencies to independent contractors, to include worker safety and health plans from independent contractors hired to deal with the consequences of flooding, demolition, storm surge impacts and coast erosion. For example, Durham, North Carolina, requires all bidders on city-funded public works projects to present a substantial amount of information regarding their companies’ safety and health records and safety management systems in order to ensure that contracts don’t go to low bidders who ignore their employees’ safety. Washington state has a requirement for an Accident Prevention Plan (APP) on all employers.   This approach is called the Responsible Contractor Project and is under development by Public Citizen in collaboration with the Protecting Workers Alliance and the National Coalition of Occupational Safety and Health. Much of direction on work practices and training has been developed under: the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Disaster Site workers guidance; ;National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) disaster site worker documents and materials; and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The NIEHS Disaster Recovery Health and Safety Training materials and grants address many critical hazards and provide for best practices that could be adopted in the award and bid process.

What’s Missing? Workers Health and Safety The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework as a process to assess potential burdens of disease and other outcomes resulting from the impacts of short and long range climate projections. It is essential to incorporate occupational health and safety issues in this evolving framework. These climate projections have profound implications for the occupational health and safety of many workers. The direct impact of turbulent weather increases many work-related risks for transportation workers and emergency personnel from extreme cold to extreme heat stress. In addition, the stresses on health care facilities and institutions and health care workers can be enormous- as was seen in New Orleans and New York. As new infectious diseases emerge, workers in outdoor settings will be at risk including parks, forestry, coastal resources, fish and wildlife workers and workers for state or city departments who work in mosquito-rich areas. (Studies of these workers in New York and New Jersey found roughly six percent had serological evidence of infection with Lyme disease, which is caused by a tick.) Other workers who remain in a mosquito or tick rich terrain for extended projects (water pipe and electrical cable installation, well-digging and maintenance on telecommunications towers) would also be at risk. As seen with the aftermath of Sandy, there are exceptional challenges to the safety and health of workers who perform recovery work following the escalating weather events (from hurricanes to floods to storm surges). The variety of potential hazards are staggering; electrocution from power lines and recovery equipment, dangers using heavy equipment and chain saws in an unstable work environments, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators and gasolinepowered tools and equipment and an extraordinary range of biological hazards from animal vector to water pollution. Consider for a moment the extreme hazards faced by utility workers as they press to restore electricity even as a storm event is ongoing. Recently, RICOSH joined with a coalition of national health and safety advocates to petition the White House’s Interagency Group on Climate Change and Human Health to open the discussion to include the impact on workers safety and health. We have discussed this issue

Nanomaterials - continued from page 1

Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, which provides information on how to control exposures for many of the most common processes seen in facilities that use or produce nanomaterials or nano-enabled products. [ ]

How are workers exposed?

The greatest exposures to raw nanomaterials are likely to occur in the workplace during production, handling, secondary processing and packaging. In a review of exposure assessments conducted at nanotechnology plants and laboratories, scientist Derk Brouwer has determined activities which resulted in exposures included harvesting (e.g., scraping materials out of reactors), bagging, packaging, and reactor cleaning. Downstream activities that may release nanomaterials include bag dumping, manual transfer between processes, mixing or compounding, powder sifting and machining of parts that contain nanomaterials. Similar to controlling hazards in traditional macroscale manufacturing, engineering controls are recommended to reduce exposures to nanomaterials. The identification and adoption of effective control technologies is an important first step in reducing the

development and advancement of nanotechnology through its research and communication efforts to protect workers. NIOSH has taken a leading role in conducting research and making recommendations for nanotechnology safety in work settings. See the nanotechnology topic page for a list of documents and resources [ niosh/topics/nanotech ] Recently, NIOSH has released a document titled, Current THE RICOSH NEWSLETTER

Continued on page 3 - Nanomaterials


Spring/Summer • 2014


The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities Report by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

• A farm worker in her 60s, crushed to death by a truck in an Arizona lettuce field. • A 27-year old cinematographer, killed by an oncoming train during a film shoot on a Georgia railroad bridge. • A 57-year old temp agency worker caught in between and crushed by equipment at a warehouse in New Jersey.


na Barrera-Bogarin, Sarah Jones and Ronald Smith are among thousands of workers who die each year in American workplaces. Frequently, these deaths are reported as tragic accidents. The real story is more complex – a story of tragedies that could have been prevented. The people who lose their lives while trying to earn a living are not, in most cases, victims of random events or circumstance. In fact, the dynamics of the hazards in contemporary workplaces are well understood. The risks of injury, illness and death can be reduced or eliminated with proper training, procedures, monitoring and documentation. Preventable Death: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities report identifies the unsafe conditions that take the lives of American workers and recommendations on how to prevent workplace deaths. Here are some of the findings from a report by National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. • There were at least 4,383 deaths from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012. • Tens of thousands of workers die each year from long-term occupational illnesses. One estimate puts the toll at 53,000 deaths annually, causing untold harm and suffering – and costing the U.S. economy $45.5 billion a year. • Nearly 700 deaths can be prevented every year by timely adoption of a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA (The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standard limiting workplace exposure to silica. This silent killer can cause silicosis, lung disease, cancer and other fatal conditions.

Death on the Job: How Big is the Problem? This section of the report surveys the range of illnesses and injuries that take the lives of American workers. It highlights the high rates of fatalities faced by particular vulnerable populations, including immigrant, Latino, temporary and Nanomaterials - continued from page 2 risk associated with worker exposure to engineered nanoparticles. Properly designing and evaluating the effectiveness of these controls is a key component in a comprehensive health and safety program.

Strategies for Protecting Workers

The NIOSH document discusses approaches and strategies to protect workers from potentially harmful exposures during nanomaterial manufacturing, use, and handling processes http:// Its purpose is to provide the best available current knowledge of how workers may be exposed and provide guidance on exposure control and evaluation. It is intended to be used as a reference by plant managers and owners who are responsible for making decisions regarding capital allocations, as well as health and safety professionals, engineers, and industrial hygienists who are specifically charged with protecting worker health in this new and growing field. Because little has been published on exposure controls in the production and use of nanomaterials, this document focuses on applications that have relevance to the field of nanotechnology and on engineering control technologies currently used, and known to be effective, in other industries. Assessing how well the exposure control works is also essential for verifying the exposure goals of the facility have been successfully THE RICOSH NEWSLETTER

young workers. Specific steps that can prevent many workplace fatalities are also identified. Here is some of what it includes. Case studies of seven workers who lost their lives in U.S. workplaces in 2013 and 2014: These tragic deaths, which occurred on a farm, a factory, a film set, a hospital and other workplaces, illustrate the range of hazards that confront American workers. Some jobs are perceived as more dangerous than others – but any job can become dangerous at a moment’s notice. Silica Dust: This is a silent killer affecting millions, including the most vulnerable workers in America. OSHA estimates that 688 lives can be saved every year by reducing workplace exposure to silica dust. Again, vulnerable populations are often most at risk from this widespread hazard. Recommendations by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health: (RICOSH is part of this national organization of occupational and safety advocacy committees or organizations) to reduce workplace hazards, including specific actions to be taken by employers, OSHA and Congress. These recommendations focus on allowing workers, families and advocates a greater voice in identifying, controlling and eliminating workplace hazards including: • Enhanced workplace safety and health programs. • Stronger safety standards and regulations. • Greater access to OSHA services in multiple languages. • Allowing worker and community advocacy groups to file complaints. • Stronger whistleblower protections. • Better public access to national worker fatality data. • Strengthening and updating the federal law that created OSHA in 1970. • Immigration reform. [The entire report Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities, by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health can be read at] met. This document covers a range of control evaluation tools including airflow visualization and measurement and containment test methods, such as tracer gas testing. Additional methods, such as video exposure monitoring, also provide information on critical task-based exposures and helps identify high-exposure activities and help provide the basis for interventions.

Help Wanted: How You Can Get Involved

Producers and users of engineered nanomaterials are invited and encouraged to partner with NIOSH. Companies that have installed exposure controls, such as local exhaust ventilation, or are interested in assessing and reducing worker exposures can work with NIOSH engineers to develop and evaluate exposure mitigation options. Partnering with NIOSH not only benefits your company by providing an assessment of process emissions and recommending effective exposure control approaches but also expands the knowledge base that benefits the industry as a whole.  You can contact NIOSH researchers by sending an e-mail to  ••• Jennifer L. Topmiller, MS; Kevin H. Dunn, Sc.D., CIH; Jennifer Topmiller is the team leader of the Control Technology Team and Kevin Dunn is a research mechanical engineer in the Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology. ■


Spring/Summer • 2014

RI Committee on Occupational Safety and Health 741 Westminster Street Providence, RI 02903

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Providence, RI Permit No. 769

Inside this Issue Controlling Exposure to Nanomaterials......1 Climate Change & Worker Safety.................1 Preventable Deaths.........................................3 TNEC Trainings...............................................4


he New England Consortium (TNEC) based at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell is sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety’s Worker Education Training program (NIEHS/WETP) to provide health and safety training relating to hazardous materials. TNEC is a New England regional partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) and Western MASSCOSH, MASSCOSH, RICOSH, CTCOSH, and NHCOSH. and (AFSCME) CSEA in New York. TNEC also collaborates with the OSHA New England Training Institute Education Center at Keene State, NH. ■ Hazardous Waste Site Workers Training (HAZWOPER)

■ Emergency Responder Health and Safety Trainings ■ OSHA 10 Hr Construction Safety Training ■ Work and Construction Zone Safety

Training Alliance Renewed Between OSHA PAO and RICOSH


he United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Providence Area Office (PAO) and the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH) have formed an alliance to provide guidance and access to training resources to new, immigrant, and limited literacy workers along with workers and others involved in new hazards or new industries. This initiative will help them avoid workplace injuries by training them in basic hazard recognition and the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). OSHA Alliances provide organizations the opportunity to participate in a voluntary cooperative relationship with OSHA to raise awareness of OSHA’s rule making and enforcement initiatives and training, education, outreach and communication resources. Through the Alliance, RICOSH and OSHA (PAO) will do the following: share information on OSHA’s National/Regional/Local Emphasis Programs, Regulatory Agenda and opportunities to participate in the rule making process; share information on occupational safety and health laws and standards, including the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers and encourage worker participation in workplace safety and health by educating new workers.

Training and Education a Focal Point

The primary focus of the Alliance is to provide training and education programs for new, immigrant and limited literacy workers regarding general hazard awareness and to communicate such information to constituent employers and workers. The Alliance will employ several means of communicating information (e.g., print and electronic media, electronic assistance tools and web sites).

■ Confined Space Training ■ Refreshers


Contract courses can be specifically designed for and held at your facility. [Check TNEC website for additional information]

Spring/Summer 2014 THE RICOSH NEWSLETTER is a publication of the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.


UMASS/LOWELL 1 University Avenue Lowell, MA 01854 [978] 934.3257

741 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903 [401] 751-2015

Newsletter Committee: James Celenza, Mary G. Harrington Design: Second Story Graphics Graphic images courtesy of: NIOSH, TNEC, International Chemical Workers Union, and National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) RICOSH 741 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903 T: 401.751.2015 F: 401.751.7520 E: © 2014 RICOSH

Check TNEC website for new programs:



Spring/Summer • 2014

Ricosh spring 2014 print final  

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