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NIEHS to fund $36 million in worker safety training

Efforts to reduce worker exposure to hazards during disaster response, cleanup

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is awarding $36 million in grants to 20 organizations that develop safety and health training for workers involved in hazardous waste operations and transportation, environmental restoration of contaminated facilities, and chemical emergency response. These training programs can receive annual funding for up to five years.

Five awardees in the Gulf Coast region will use the money to continue ongoing safety and health training activities in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil cleanup experts and hazardous material trainers are providing curricula review and assistance with quality assurance to BP, while also delivering classroom and onsite safety and health training. Awardees will also be analyzing and documenting the effectiveness of oil spill response training to prepare for future efforts.

"For 33 years, workers trained by NIEHS programs have been among the first to respond to disasters, including the Sept. 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the Gulf oil spill," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program. "These grants will ensure that those on the front lines and in the greatest danger have the skills they need to protect themselves, their communities, and the environment."

"We have developed a strong network of non-profit organizations that are committed to safety," said Chip Hughes, whose NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) administers the funding. "Since 1987, more than two million hazardous waste workers and emergency responders have received potentially life-saving training."

The 2010-2011 awardees are:

Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, Md.
Dillard University, New Orleans
International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington, D.C.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Washington, D.C.
International Chemical Workers Union Council, Akron, Ohio
International Union of Operating Engineers, Beaver, W.Va.
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), Detroit Jefferson State Community College, Birmingham, Ala.
Laborers International Union of North America Training and Education Fund, Pomfret Center, Conn.
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Office of Applied Innovations, Chicago
National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education, Portland, Maine
SEIU Education and Support Fund, Washington, D.C.
Steelworkers Charitable & Education Organization, Pittsburgh
The University of California, Los Angeles
University of Cincinnati
University of Massachusetts Lowell
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health, Piscataway
The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston
Utility Workers Union of America, Washington, D.C.

NIEHS WETP provided awardees funds from multiple program areas:

  • The Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program provides occupational safety and health training for workers engaged in hazardous waste removal and containment or chemical emergency response. During 2010-2011, NIEHS will award a total of $20.6 million to 20 organizations.
  • The Nuclear Weapons Cleanup Training Program is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to train workers in environmental restoration, waste treatment, and emergency response activities at DOE's nuclear weapons facilities. During 2010-2011, NIEHS will award a total of $9.6 million to eight organizations.
  • The Minority Worker Training Program delivers comprehensive training to disadvantaged urban youth to prepare them for employment in the environmental restoration and hazardous materials fields. During 2010-2011, NIEHS will award a total of $3.5 million to four organizations.
  • The Hazmat Disaster Preparedness Training Program fosters the development of training programs for the purpose of preparing a cadre of experienced workers for prevention and response during natural and man-made disasters. During 2010-2011, NIEHS will award a total of $2.3 million to 10 organizations.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act gave NIEHS the responsibility for initiating the Worker Education and Training Program funded by grants. The primary objective of this program is to fund non-profit organizations with a demonstrated track record of providing occupational safety and health education in developing and delivering high quality training to workers who are involved in handling hazardous waste or in responding to emergency releases of hazardous materials.

More information on the awards and the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program can be found at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/home.htm.

The NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists (www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/newslist/index.cfm) to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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