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The History and Future of NIOSH Morgantown

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Mining, Motor Vehicle Safety, Nanotechnology, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health, Safety and Health Data, Violence

The state-of-the-art NIOSH Morgantown facility opened in 1996.

To commemorate Workers Memorial Day, NIOSH is hosting a week of blogs with a new post each day ending on Monday, April 28th.  To start us off, we will highlight the past and look to the future with a retrospective on the history of occupational safety and health research and NIOSH in Morgantown, West Virginia.   

Occupational safety and health research has deep roots in Morgantown. In 1967, the Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Diseases (ALFORD) was created within the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) to focus on a prominent problem of the Appalachian occupational environment–”black lung disease” in coal miners. ALFORD’s director was Dr. W. Keith Morgan. The lab was initially housed in the West Virginia University (WVU) Health Sciences Center, and its research focused on detecting black lung disease and assessing its physiological effects. In 1969, work began on a new facility for ALFORD on 4.6 acres of land donated by WVU to PHS. In the same year, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (Coal Act) was passed. The Coal Act mandated a range of measures to protect coal miners, including limits on coal mine dust exposures and a program providing medical screening with chest radiographs to coal miners at operators’ expense.

Respirator Care = Safe to Wear!

Categories: Mining, Personal Protective Equipment

Photo courtesy of Draeger

Happy Valentine’s Day! And on this most romantic day of the year, what else could you possibly do than show some love … to your respirator. Last year on this day, we blogged about maintaining your relationship with your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). To continue to spread the love, this year we want to focus on those mining professionals who work up close and personally with Self-Contained Self-Rescuers (SCSRs). An SCSR is a lifesaving device that miners depend upon in times of emergency to escape from a hazardous environment within the mine. To keep this important device functioning reliably, daily inspections and upkeep become a ‘life or death’ matter. Though you may consider this to be a high-maintenance relationship, it is worth the necessary attention. In the event of an emergency, you need to successfully don and activate your respirator as quickly as possible to escape from danger.

World Cancer Day – Cancer Detectives in the Workplace

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Cancer, Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Manufacturing, Mining, Transportation

Today is World Cancer Day. Around the world, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and the number is expected to increase due to the growth and aging of the population, as well as reductions in childhood mortality and deaths from infectious diseases in developing countries (ACS 2011). Cancer is the leading cause of death in developed countries and the second leading cause of death in developing countries.

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled, it can result in death.

The Importance of Occupational Safety and Health: Making for a “Super” Workplace

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Mining, Oil and Gas, Personal Protective Equipment, Sports and Entertainment, Training

Graphic by Stephen R. Leonard

There’s just something about superhero movie summer releases that gets us here at NIOSH excited about safety. This summer the source of our inspiration came from the Man of Steel© movie. In the film, pre-Superman Clark Kent is working as a commercial fisherman (a hazardous job if you’re not a man of steel). He risks exposing his amazing abilities when he swoops in to save the workers on a nearby oil rig who are in great danger as the rig implodes around them.

The scene is reminiscent of Action Comics© issue #3, the original Superman comic book series dating all the way back to 1938. In Action Comics #3, “Superman Battles Death Underground“, (issued 75 years ago this month) Superman is in the right place at the right time to save a coal miner, as well as his rescue crew, from an unsafe mine filled with toxic gas. We see instances such as these riddled throughout comic books and superhero movies. There’s always a hero around to save the day.

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