HHS AWARDS $11.4 MILLION CONTRACT TO ASSESS HEALTH STATUS OF WORKERS, VOLUNTEERS AT WORLD TRADE CENTER DISASTER SITE

August 09, 2002

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced an $11.4 million contract with the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine to determine whether rescue and recovery workers and volunteers who worked at the World Trade Center disaster site are experiencing related illnesses or injuries.

The contract will fund free standardized clinical examinations to workers and volunteers involved in Ground Zero rescue and cleanup efforts. Under the contract, New York's Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and a consortium of occupational health clinics in New York, New Jersey and other locations will provide the examinations to eligible workers and volunteers. "The workers and volunteers at the World Trade Center site set a standard for courage and dedication that will never be forgotten," Secretary Thompson said. "We want to make sure that their heroic service does not have long-term health consequences, and these screening examinations will be essential to that effort."

The goal of the project is to have a system in place that will help employers and public health professionals identify symptoms, injuries or conditions that may indicate long-term illness as a result of their work at the World Trade Center, so that interventions can be pursued. The contract will also pay for Mt. Sinai to compile a database of the findings, allowing researchers to assess potential occupational illness and injury patterns among the workers, and provide data for future studies where health changes over time can be identified and addressed.

The examinations will focus on identifying health problems most likely to occur as a result of work at or near the World Trade Center site. These include potential respiratory effects, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic effects from injuries at the site and mental health conditions.

The contract will be administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the part of HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing job-related injuries and illnesses. NIOSH scientists were on-site during the early stages of the World Trade Center rescue and recovery operations to provide technical assistance to state and local health authorities addressing the health and safety of workers, volunteers, and managers, as part of the HHS' rapid response to public health concerns arising from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

It is estimated that the program will provide screenings to at least 8,500 workers and volunteers who toiled at the World Trade Center site. Workers will receive a report from the results, and general, de-identified information about the screenings will be shared with industry, labor, and government to help identify potential trends in health effects.

For information on the screening program or to sign-up contact Mt. Sinai, 1-888-702-0630.


OSHA REOPENS GLYCOL ETHERS RULEMAKING RECORD

OSHA has reopened the glycol ethers rulemaking record to solicit information on the extent to which the two ethylene glycol ethers and their acetates are currently being used in the workplace, including their level of production, and the industries and processes in which they're being used.

The agency is also interested in learning about substitutes for the ethers that employers may be using, including information on patterns of use, levels of employee exposure to the substitutes, and their degree of toxicity.

"It is important that we have the best and most current information as we determine how best to proceed on this issue," said John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "The current record is nearly 10 years old and may no longer accurately reflect the use of these substances in the workplace."

OSHA proposed in 1993 to reduce permissible exposure limits for two ethylene glycol ethers (2-Methoxyethanol (2-ME) and 2-Ethoxyethanol (2-EE), and their acetates (2-MEA, 2-EEA). The substances have been commonly used in the auto refinishing industry, as well as in construction paints, surface coatings, printing inks, and the semiconductor industry. OSHA estimated that approximately 46,000 workers were exposed to the ethers and the associated risks of adverse reproductive and developmental health effects.

Information submitted in response to the proposal has indicated a decline in the production of the substances and that their use in several key industry sectors may have been eliminated or is being phased out. A recent Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory also confirms a downward trend in their production and use.

Comments must be submitted by Nov. 6, 2002. To submit comments by regular mail, express delivery, hand delivery or messenger service, submit three copies and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H-044, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. You may also fax comments (10 pages or fewer) by calling the Docket Office fax at (202) 693-1648. Include the docket number in your comments. Finally, comments may be submitted electronically through the Internet at http://ecomments.osha.gov. Further information on submitting comments can be obtained by calling the Docket Office at (202) 693-2350.

Notice of the reopening was published in the August 8, 2002 Federal Register.


NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL TO RECOGNIZE SEPTEMBER 11 WITH FREE FIRST AID AND CPR TRAINING ONLINE

To commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedies of September 11, the National Safety Council (NSC) will offer everyone an opportunity to better prepare themselves for emergencies. NSC will offer its online Basic First Aid & CPR training program free of charge from September 11-18.

"Over the past year, we have all experienced a heightened concern about our preparedness for emergencies," said NSC President Alan McMillan. "The actions people take in the first few minutes of an emergency can make the difference between life and death. However, knowing what to do does not come naturally. Effective training is the only way to make the appropriate action feel like a natural response. One of the lessons of September 11 is that we must be prepared for emergencies. The National Safety Council believes that taking First Aid and CPR training are good starting points to prepare adults and children alike."

The interactive Basic First Aid and CPR course, developed in partnership with Jones and Bartlett Publishers, uses clearly-presented learning points, advanced graphics, interactive animations, realistic sound effects, video clips and a variety of exercises. Participants obtain comprehensive knowledge, while experiencing the sights and sounds of real emergency situations. The course usually takes about two hours to complete, but the course can be taken at one's own pace. Interested in this free offering? You do not need to sign up in advance. On September 11-18, the free program will be available through a link from the National Safety Council home page at http://www.nsc.org.

The National Safety Council, America's safety and health leader for 90 years, is a nongovernmental public service organization with 50 local chapters around the country and members representing 37,500 business and labor organizations, schools, public agencies and private groups.

NOTE: Certification is not provided with the Basic First Aid & CPR program. Professionals requiring certification must take other courses that include hands-on skill training.


DOT ANNOUNCES FMCSA RULE PERMITTING PERFORMANCE BRAKE TESTING TECHNOLOGY

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) final rule establishing pass/fail criteria for use with performance-based brake testers (PBBTs). These devices measure the braking performance of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

The final rule allows motor carriers and federal, state and local enforcement officials to use this new technology to determine whether a truck or bus complies with brake performance safety standards. PBBTs are expected to save time and their use could increase the number of CMVs that can be inspected in a given time. The final rule represents the culmination of agency research that began in the early 1990s.

A PBBT assesses vehicle-braking capability by measuring brake forces at each wheel or by measuring overall vehicle brake performance in a controlled test. This final rule means that certified roller dynamometers, breakaway torque testers, and flat-plate testers, all of which measure brake force, can be used to measure brake compliance and help determine whether a truck or bus's brakes comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

Only PBBTs that meet specifications developed by the FMCSA can be used to determine compliance with the FMCSR. This rule does not replace existing brake performance requirements, but provides an alternative testing method to the little used 20-mph stopping-distance test that requires a testing site with adequate space requirements.

Under the FMCSA specifications, a PBBT manufacturer self-certifies that its PBBT meets specifications and also states which specifications, if any, its PBBT does not meet. A PBBT that is certified to meet FMCSA specifications is eligible for funding under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). The MCSAP is a federal program administered by FMCSA, to provide funds to States and U.S. territories in support of CMV safety. This means states and territories may use MCSAP funding to purchase PBBTs for use in CMV brake inspections.

The new rule applies to all CMVs and CMV combinations weighing over 10,000 pounds, and is effective on Feb. 5, 2003. The six-month period from publication of the final rule until its effective date is intended to allow time to establish standard test procedures, operator training, and brake repair guidelines.

The new rule is today's Federal Register (August 9, 2002). It also is on the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov. The docket number for the final rule is FHWA-1999-6266.


OSHA REAFFIRMS AGREEMENT WITH NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE CERTIFICATION OF CRANE OPERATORS

OSHA has reaffirmed its commitment to recognize the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operator's (NCCCO) national certification program as demonstrating that the certified operator meets OSHA's requirements for crane operator proficiency.

The Agreement between OSHA and the NCCCO is a continuation of the original agreement that was signed in 1999. It recognizes certification by NCCCO, a private sector certifying organization, as documentation that an operator meets OSHA's requirements for crane operator training and provides incentives for employers to have their operators qualified through the NCCCO program.

"The ability of crane operators to safely operate mobile cranes plays a significant role in overall safety on most construction sites," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Therefore, it is very important that these crane operators are well trained. This certification program provides evidence-in a highly professional and effective manner-that such training has taken place and that it will continue to help reduce the number of crane incidents."

Under the agreement OSHA compliance safety and health officers will recognize NCCCO certification as independent verification that certified crane operators have met OSHA's training requirements. Having NCCCO certified crane operators on a project would be an indication of the contractor's commitment to an effective safety and health program and contribute to the project's qualification for a "Focused Inspection" by OSHA.

"Three and a half years after the signing of the Agreement recognizing the NCCCO national crane operator certification program, NCCCO is delighted to have this reaffirmation of support by OSHA," said NCCCO President Ronald Schad, President, Essex Crane Rental Corp., Buffalo Grove, Illinois. "This is a tribute to the effectiveness of this national assessment of crane operators in providing evidence that certified operators are meeting OSHA's requirements for crane operator qualifications as well as those of the ASME B30.5 American National Standard."

NCCCO was formed in January 1995 to develop effective performance standards for safe crane operation to assist all segments of general industry and construction. The NCCCO certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and is formally recognized by the National Skills Standard Board (NSSB).


OSHA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHOOTING RANGES, SPORTING ARMS & AMMUNITION MANUFACTURERS FORM ALLIANCE

OSHA, the National Association of Shooting Ranges (NASR) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) established an Alliance to promote safe and healthful working conditions for workers in target shooting facilities.

"OSHA is committed to partnering with industry groups such as NASR and SAAMI to promote safe and healthful workplaces," said Henshaw. "Alliances such as this maximize everyone's resources to reach out to workers and employers with safety and health information that benefits everyone."

The Alliance will provide member and non-member shooting ranges with information and guidance that will help enhance employee safety programs, including education and information on ways to minimize noise and airborne pollutants in the workplace, and will provide information and guidance to shooting range operators and developers on the control of hazards and prevention of exposures to hazards substances in their facilities.

OSHA, NASR and SAAMI will work together jointly to develop and disseminate information and guidance at conferences and through various media outlets; to promote and encourage NASR members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs such as compliance assistance, the Voluntary Protection Program, Consultation, and mentoring among members; and to develop and deliver a seminar for state associations' annual meetings on airborne lead and other topics for shooting range operators and developers.

A joint team of representatives from NASR, SAAMI and OSHA will meet regularly to set goals and objectives and track their progress. The OSHA team will include representatives from OSHA's Directorates of Federal-State Operations, Compliance Programs, and Technical Support. Representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association and the association of state Consultation Projects will be given the opportunity to participate as well.

The Alliance will remain in effect for one year, with annual automatic renewals. It may be modified with the concurrence of all parties. Any signatory may withdraw for any reason with 30 days notice.