Environmental Factor, October 2010, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS to fund $36 million in worker safety training
By Ed Kang
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 (see press release (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2010/safety-training.cfm) for list of grantees).
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 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 online(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/home.htm).
(Ed Kang is a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)
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.