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NIOSH News - November 2019 Issue

Nov 09, 2019

The Monthly Newsletter of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

From the Director's Desk
John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

It is COPD Awareness Month—Learn What COPD Is and How to Prevent It at Work 
November marks National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month. Over 16 million Americans suffer from this common and sometimes devastating breathing disease. People with COPD can have emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or both. The lung damage caused by COPD impairs air flow in the lungs and causes breathing difficulty. Symptoms of COPD include frequent coughing or wheezing and excess phlegm, mucus, or sputum production. Shortness of breath can limit activities. In the United States, the most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. However, around 15% of all COPD cases can be attributed to exposures in the workplace.

Research Rounds
Inside NIOSH: Complex Factors Underlie Taxi Drivers’ Fatigued Driving

Taking a taxi, or other form of hired ride, can be a safer alternative to driving, especially if we are sleep-deprived or have consumed alcohol. But how do we know if our taxi driver is well rested? Indeed, fatigue is a common problem among taxi drivers, who often work long hours and must be available around the clock. Evidence shows that fatigue is associated with violence and motor-vehicle crashes—the leading causes of injury among taxi drivers—but the causes of driving while tired remain unclear. Outside NIOSH: Training Tool Addresses Pesticide Exposure and Heat Illness in Farmworkers

Exposure to pesticides and extreme heat are leading causes of work-related illness among farmworkers, who are mostly Mexican immigrants. Recent revisions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Worker Protection Standard focused on pesticide-exposure training, along with growing concern over heat illness in farmworkers, prompted a study at Florida State University in collaboration with the University of Florida. Together, they developed and tested a new safety education tool.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Crowdsourcing Competition Is OPEN!

NIOSH kicked off its first AI crowdsourcing competition last week! Do you know someone who is looking to put their programming skills to the test? Please share this email with them! Who knows—a colleague, friend, or family member of yours could provide the winning natural language processing model to help us automate the classification of worker injury records! Monetary prizes will be awarded to the top five competitors. The competition ends on November 21. To learn more, visit the CDC Text Classification Marathon challenge overview.

Announcing Pilot Course: Disaster-related Exposure Assessment and Monitoring (DREAM)

This 4-day training course provides knowledge and experience in assessing, monitoring, and tracking health effects among emergency responders and community members before, during, and after a disaster. These effects can occur from exposures to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive, along with other hazards. The course will be held December 16–19 at the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama. Learn more or register here

NIOSH Fast Facts: How Taxi Drivers Can Prevent Robbery and Violence

The most serious workplace violence issues facing taxi drivers are homicide and physical assaults, which are often related to a robbery. Violence is often a leading cause of taxi driver deaths, along with motor vehicle crashes. View NIOSH Fast Facts for strategies to prevent or reduce the likelihood of violence during a shift.