NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON OCCUPATIONAL
SAFETY AND HEALTH
Minutes of December 8, 2004 Meeting
U.S. Department of Labor
550 C Street, S.W.
Chair Pete DeLuca opened the meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 8, 2004. Approximately 75 members of the public were in attendance.
The following NACOSH members were present:
|Peter DeLuca, JD||Public||Administrator, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division|
|Alan C. McMillan||Public||President and CEO
National Safety Council
|Emory Knowles, III||Safety||Manager, Industrial Hygiene and Safety
|James Stanley||Safety||President, F.D.R. Safety|
|Donald Carson||Labor||Center Director, Hazmat Program
International Union of Operating Engineers
|Richard Duffy, MS||Labor||International Association of Firefighters|
|James Blessman, MD||Health||Assistant Professor, Wayne State University|
|Vickie Wells, MS||Public||Director, Occupational Safety and Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health|
Mr. DeLuca called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone. Mr. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Dr. Howard, Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), welcomed the thanked the Committee for coming to the meeting.
INTRODUCTION OF THE COMMITTEE
The Committee members and Committee Contacts introduced themselves. The Committee subsequently approved the minutes of the August 18, 2004, meeting.
Dr. Howard updated the committee on five issues: the budget; some activities of the OSHA-NIOSH Issues Exchange Group; the NIOSH Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce initiative; a NIOSH costs conference; and several new publications.
Regarding the budget, Dr. Howard mentioned that, according to the Washington Post, Congress had sent to the President a legislative package that included a NIOSH appropriation of $287.7 million, which represented a $10.7 million increase over the FY‘04 budget. The increases included a $1.5 million for training grants for the NIOSH Education and Research Centers, a $1.4 million increase for the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory; a $4.26 million increase for the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Research Program; and a $2 million increase for the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). The President was expected to sign the bill.
Then Dr. Howard provided an update on a few activities of the OSHA-NIOSH Issues Exchange Group. First he mentioned a new collaborative publication that provides guidance for protecting workers against avian flu, chiefly in the poultry industry. It will be posted on the OSHA Web site. He also mentioned the work NIOSH has been doing with OSHA on OSHA’s MSDS project, beryllium research data sharing, a trenching initiative, and education and training such as the successful industrial hygiene professional development conference that the agencies co-sponsored in Salt Lake City.
Next Dr. Howard discussed the Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce initiative that NIOSH launched to bring together the often disparate worlds of health protection and health promotion. Health protection addresses risks from work-related hazards, while health promotion addresses lifestyle risks that are associated with lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and other social habits that may be harmful. NIOSH had its first Steps conference at the end of October. There were 400 participants, including representatives of the health promotion community who are not traditional NIOSH stakeholders. The papers that were presented at the conference will be posted on the NIOSH Web site. A synopsis of the conference, a synopsis of each of the sessions, and an action item agenda that arose from the conference also will be posted on the NIOSH Web site.
Then Dr. Howard provided an update on another conference that NIOSH co-sponsored with the World Health Organization in early November on the economic evaluation of occupational safety and health interventions at the company level. Several productivity assessment models were reviewed and will further be developed, focusing on their usefulness in settings with limited occupational safety and health infrastructure such as small to medium sized establishments. The conference proceedings will be published by the National Safety Council in their Journal of Safety Research. Dr. Howard promised to provide committee members copies of that special issue. Related information also will be provided on our Web site. Dr. Howard said that similar efforts could be undertaken in a few NORA areas and that this is a new and exciting endeavor for NIOSH.
Finally, Dr. Howard mentioned several new communication products: a publication on silicosis in English and Spanish that can be flipped around to display either language; a NIOSH alert on preventing falls of workers through skylights and other roof openings; the printed version of the Worker Health Chartbook which has been posted on our Web site; and a publication on antineoplastic agents for occupational hazards in hospitals and our hazardous drug alert that also are posted on our Web site and on which we still are soliciting comments. In addition, he mentioned a couple of publications focusing on Hispanic farm operations. The last publication he mentioned was a guide to selecting non-powered hand tools, a joint product between NIOSH and the state program in California. During the last OSHSPA meeting, Dr. Howard referred to this publication and invited other state programs to partner with NIOSH in developing publications. Finally, Dr. Howard talked about a survey NIOSH published in the journal Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine. It highlights our work in Alaska, which we do in partnership with the State Health Department, the Alaska OSHA program, FAA, and other partners. He promised to provide a reprint of the article to be included in the meeting’s minutes. (See attached article)
Mr. Henshaw began his presentation by indicating that he expects the budget will affirm OSHA’s continuing position around the balanced strategy on enforcement and compliance assistance in our partnerships and cooperative programs. He mentioned that the budget is expected to be around $468.1 million, which is $10.5 million increase over 2005, and about a 2 percent increase.
Mr. Henshaw further mentioned that the real challenge in OSHA is getting a maximum return on the investment of that $468.1 million and that can only be measured in the injuries, illnesses, and fatality reductions. Mr. Henshaw indicated that OSHA was going to continue to focus on looking at the triple bottom line, and work towards that ultimate goal of zero fatalities, and zero workplace injuries and illnesses. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that in 2004, OSHA exceeded its goals in inspections by approximately 1,500 inspections. Mr. Henshaw explained that OSHA emphasized and targeted the enforcement efforts on those places that need enforcement and attention. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that OSHA is continuing to expand its outreach and education and compliance assistance efforts. Mr. Henshaw indicated that OSHA is beginning to use data, injury and illness statistics more and more, not only in the agency, but with the site-specific targeting, and determining whether in fact an employer meets the qualifications of VPP, or other kinds of programs. Mr. Henshaw mentioned that OSHA launched a hazard communication initiative this spring and the goal is to assist employers in developing effective hazard communication programs. In closing, Mr. Henshaw indicated that OSHA has done an awful lot, but it is not what we have done that is important, it is what we’re about to do, or should do to get the maximum return on that investment that was discussed earlier.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Mr. Stanley asked what the total number of inspections were for the country. Mr. Henshaw indicated that there were approximately 60,000 state and federal inspections conducted. Mr. Stanley asked if the language problem with the Hispanic community led to injuries and illnesses. Mr. Henshaw responded affirmatively and indicated that OSHA was going to continue to address those issues and get the best practices communicated to as many people as possible.
Dr. Blessman asked if there were issues of fatigue, lack of understanding, or resources when getting at the root causes of non-compliance when inspections visit worksites. Mr. Henshaw responded that the inspectors try to intervene and create a lasting change in the workplace which will benefit the workplace.
Mr. McMillan asked what the database tells us about new workers in the country that are engaged in high hazard work. Mr. Henshaw responded that he did not have precise figures, but clearly unskilled or poorly skilled immigrants are the ones that are most likely coming into this country and that is why the incident rate for Hispanic workers is higher than the general population.
Mr. Fairfax began his presentation by indicating that health targeting currently has two national emphasis programs, one focuses on crystalline silica, and the other focuses on lead. Mr. Fairfax added that these programs also involve data gathering and the review of injury/illness records. He indicated that these programs cover all industries, construction, manufacturing, and maritime. Mr. Fairfax told the Committee that OSHA has established a task group that deals with improving the industrial hygiene targeting process. Mr. Fairfax further mentioned that the task group has representatives from the state plan states and consultation. Mr. Fairfax added that the OSHA is continually looking at ways to improve the health targeting process.
NANO TECHNOLOGY REPORT
Dr. Howard gave a PowerPoint presentation on nanotechnology. He mentioned that both the applications and the implications of nanotechnology are important. He defined nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter at a nanometer length to produce material structures with very unique applications that include new forms of energy, targeted medical diagnostics, nanomedicine, advanced materials, and some sensors. Commercial products with nanomaterials include tennis balls that bounce forever, tooth fillings that look like natural teeth, and shirts that do not need ironing. A nanostructure has at least one dimension in the nanoscale, which is less than 100 nanometers in length. Red blood cells, bacteria, viruses, and the human DNA have a nanoscale of 1 to 100 nanometers.
Dr. Howard addressed the differences between engineered and naturally occurring nanoparticles. The main difference is that engineered nanomaterials contain many billions of nanoparticles, while particles of all sizes can be found in naturally occurring nanoparticle environments. Single-walled nanotubes, a common example of engineered nanoparticles, have unusually high strength versus weight ratios.
Nanoparticles have very large surface areas. This is important because chemical reactions occur on the surface of molecules, not inside them. As an example of how surface area affects the application of nanotechnology, Dr. Howard mentioned that the EPA is testing iron metallic remediation agents to clean up toxic waste dumps; nanoparticles injected into waste sites have such a large surface area with which to react to contaminants, that remediation occurs much faster than with other methods.
Nanoparticles’ physics also matters. For example, quantum dots are nanoparticles that have the same chemistry but differ by size. They have different colors because their physics differ. He pointed out that in industrial hygiene the focus has been on mass as a way of sampling. We have been looking at chemistry but now we have to incorporate physics into our understanding of occupational safety and health.
Similarly, it is important to address the biological implications of nanoparticles. Dr. Howard showed the lining of lung bronchials; on the cell surface there are little hair cells, called cilia, that help evacuate materials from the lung. Nanoparticles can fit between them and gain entrance to the cell. The fraction of particles that are deposited in the lung is a function of their size; it increases as particles’ size decreases. There is evidence that nanoparticles are so small that they escape phagocytosis, or eating by macrophages, the cells that usually take up toxic agents or particles that may end up in the lung. Through the lung, nanoparticles can reach the blood supply and be transported somewhere other than the lung. Dr. Howard mentioned that a study had been published showing that these particles can be taken up by the olfactory nerve that communicates with the prefrontal lobe of the brain. Nanoparticles could gain access to the brain through that mechanism.
Then Dr. Howard discussed nanomedicine. He mentioned that the National Cancer Institute aims to eradicate cancer by 2015. Nanoparticles could be used that essentially would be probes encapsulated in a cell. They could contain medicine that could attack that cell, if it were a cancer cell, or send out a signal through a fluorescent indicator determining exactly where cancer cells were in the body.
The FY‘05 appropriation for industries involved in nanotechnology --governmental R&D funding by NASA, EPA, and other agencies-- is probably close to $4 billion. In December 2003, the President signed the National Nanotechnology Act, which is funded directly through the Treasury. To date, there are about 25,000 workers in nanotechnology but RAND has estimated that over the next 10 to 15 years, there will be 2 million workers in this area worldwide. Therefore, how we assess the risk of nanoparticle exposure is an important issue.
Dr. Howard said that assessing the health impact of nanotechnology requires almost a paradigm change in the field of occupational safety and health. We need to assess and manage the risk and to ensure that, unlike asbestos, dioxin, computer, VDT terminals, et cetera, the occupational safety and health community does not miss the opportunity to get involved early. NIOSH is using a three-pronged strategy to address this: through research, the development of partnerships, and education and information. NIOSH has had some experience in the area of small particles and is trying to apply this knowledge on nanoparticles.
He mentioned that recently, NIOSH put out a Request for Application (RFA) with EPA and the National Science Foundation for $7 million to solicit extramural research projects in nanotechnology with occupational safety and health implications such as the toxicity, fate, transport, and bioavailability of nanoparticles. Also, Dr. Howard mentioned the National Nanotechnology Initiative (www.nano.gov) in which 21 agencies participate, including NIOSH and OSHA. NIOSH co-chairs an informal working group that aims to address some of the implications of nanotechnology for occupational safety and health. The initiative is part of the President’s Nanotechnology Act.
NIOSH has several collaborative partners, including NIST, NASA, MSHA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Library of Medicine, universities, Dupont, and Proctor and Gamble. We had our first international symposium on nanotechnology last October in the UK and are planning the second one this October at the University of Minnesota. We have a nanotechnology page on the NIOSH Web site, a fact sheet, and we are trying to develop frequently asked questions with the answers for nanotechnology. We will need to stay involved so that both the applications of nanotechnology for advancing safety and health, as well as the statutory role of OSHA and NIOSH to ensure safety and health in the workplace are fulfilled. Dr. Howard thanked the committee and finished his presentation.
Chairman DeLuca asked if there were any questions and Mr. Knowles asked Dr. Howard whether NIOSH plans to provide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) for employers. Dr. Howard said that the frequently asked questions, as well as the current intelligence bulletin and other future NIOSH publications, will address the hierarchy of controls, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE. The National Personal Protective Technology Lab in Pittsburgh also is looking into the dermal absorption issue, especially for ensembles for firefighters and others who are wearing protective gear or workers in laboratories who are wearing lab coats.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE WORKGROUP REPORT
Mr. DeLuca, workgroup chair, indicated that the workgroup got started as a result of NIOSH in conjunction with the RAND Corporation, published the publication, Protecting Emergency Responders. Mr. DeLuca mentioned that the publication basically deals with the elements that need to be present in order to have effective safety management in a large scale disaster or emergency. Mr. DeLuca indicated that the group wanted to try and help NIOSH and the RAND Corporation, and also OSHA, in any way possible. Mr. DeLuca added that one of the thing s that the group decided was to see if we could locate any sites that might be available to test the model that is discussed in this publication. He further mentioned that the only state that the group identified is the State of Oregon. Mr. DeLuca mentioned that the site in the State of Oregon involves the federal government and the Department of Army engaged in burning nerve gas and mustard gas, or in other words, weapons of mass destruction. Mr. DeLuca indicated that there are a number of different jurisdictions that are involved in this particular project. Mr. DeLuca mentioned that there is potential to study the site that was identified. Mr. DeLuca indicated that the group of had some questions of NIOSH and OSHA and was interested in finding a strategy for implementing the model found in this publication. Mr. DeLuca indicated that the workgroup developed the following recommendations:
- OSHA and NIOSH should work together and develop a strategy to implement the NIOSH/RAND model and test it with a real life working situation. This effort should begin with a meeting between the heads of OSHA and NIOSH.
- OSHA and NIOSH should set criteria for identification of the test jurisdiction.
- Homeland Security funds may be available for implementing these recommendations.
- Part of the joint project should include development of training for safety officers or incident commanders or both.
- The Emergency Response Work Group should remain intact and a part of the process.
MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY WORKGROUP
Mr. McMillan, workgroup chair, indicated the workgroup got started in response to Assistant Secretary Henshaw and Director Howard asking for feedback as it relates to the issue of motor vehicle injuries and fatalities to workers. Mr. McMillan mentioned that OSHA and NHTSA were involved in a motor vehicle safety initiative “Every Belt – Every Ride” addressing seat belt use for federal workers. Mr. McMillan further mentioned that the government initiative can serve as a model to the broader private sector. Mr. McMillan indicated that 2,200 out of about 4,500 annual worker fatalities were related to motor vehicles. Mr. McMillan indicated that the workgroup developed the following recommendations:
- Quantify the problem, review and understand the data:
When OSHA discusses this issue, the Agency uses 25% as the number of traffic-related workplace fatalities. The National Safety Council indicates 2,200 out of 4,500 occupational fatal injuries are related to motor vehicles. We need to have a common benchmark for determining the magnitude of the motor vehicle safety issue. Possible actions to address this concern:
- Obtain and analyze the data related to serious injuries and property damage
- Evaluate the extent of underreporting related to motor vehicle crashes (reference: A University of Mass study)
- Analyze the trends over ten years and assess if motor vehicle crash injuries are becoming a larger or smaller percentage of the total injury data base (is the problem improving or getting worse)
- Analyze the public vs. private sector data, focusing particularly on the federal workforce (USPS and the DOD have data)
- Review and assess the risk factors:
While we know that motor vehicle crashes continue to be the number one cause of workplace fatalities, specific data on causal factors is lacking. We need to get a better handle on issues like the following:
- Seat belt usage
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Driving violations such as speeding, following to close, running stop lights or stop signs, etc.
- Vehicle safety violations such as, defective brakes, brake lights, unauthorized vehicle modifications, etc.
- Establish corporate and federal best practices, including a Sample Accident Investigation protocol and required vehicle safety equipment
- Determine key stakeholders and partners to a Federal Motor Vehicle safety initiative, such as: DOT/NHTSA, GSA, OMB, DOD, USPS, and other OSHA Alliance partners
- Assess barriers to best practices, including behavioral and organizational
- Plan for leadership support from the head of every federal organization, starting with a Presidential level statement of goals and timetables.
HISPANIC OUTREACH WORKGROUP
Mr. Knowles, workgroup chair, indicated that during the last meeting OSHA and NIOSH employees provided and overview of the Hispanic related activities that the agencies were currently undertaking. Mr. Knowles indicated that the workgroup subsequently developed the following recommendations:
- Continue the investigation into Hispanic worker outreach issues by the work group of NACOSH.
- Both OSHA and NIOSH should utilize more visuals especially in the online dictionary and in compliance assistance documents.
- OSHA and NIOSH should provide links on their websites to state plan websites where a lot of basic work has been done and some best practices have been highlighted, e.g. Oregon and Florida.
- OSHA should verify that all critical publications on the OSHA website have Spanish translations.
- For future summits and other conferences both agencies should assure publication of proceedings on agency websites.
- The working group encourages NIOSH to continue pursuing telenovelas to spread the message of worker safety. It was also suggested that OSHA and NIOSH could work together to make more resources available for such activities. (Note: other discussions at the December 8, 2004, NACOSH meeting relative to use of telenovelas indicated that male worker populations were not likely to be reached via that venue. The use of messages during sports programs, such as soccer, boxing, etc. may reach a much wider male worker audience. NIOSH should probably investigate this further).
- Funding for OSHA/NIOSH tuberculosis outreach and education is recommended.
- The agencies should renew the NORA commitment to special populations and continue programs on training and risk communication.
- Both OSHA and NIOSH should field-test in targeted communities all translated documents to assure workers are receiving the message. The Harwood grants should aid this effort to ensure that messages are understandable to workers from a variety of communities.
- Environmental justice projects have forged strong community ties. The agencies should take advantage of these ties to promote worker safety and health messages and identify new partners.
- Each of the 49 Mexican consulates, each having a Hispanic coordinator, should be included by both agencies in field-testing of documents.
- OSHA and NIOSH should continue to share research and informal findings about how best to reach workers.
- Both agencies should evaluate their website effectiveness in getting messages to Hispanic and Latino workers and ascertain if they are effective in getting messages to employers. (It was noted that OMB/Department of Labor Compliance Assistance are attempting to obtain clearance for the agencies to conduct surveys).
- NIOSH and OSHA websites should continue to be linked and share resources as much as possible.
Mr. DeLuca recommended that all of the workgroups recommendations be reviewed for clarity and submitted to Wil Epps. Mr. DeLuca also recommended that all of the workgroups continue despite the status of future Committee appointments. Mr. DeLuca indicated that during the next meeting, perhaps the Committee could get a report on the responses to the recommendations. Mr. Henshaw and Dr. Howard indicated that they both were in support of maintaining the workgroups because of the importance of those issues.
Mr. Henshaw and Dr. Howard thanked the Committee for their time and efforts. Chairman DeLuca adjourned the meeting.