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#54: What happens the day before the disaster

April 22, 2020 | 59 minutes 37 seconds

Podcast series host Jill James interviews Chip Hughes, award-winning Director with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Chip runs an innovative program securing cooperative agreements for rapid deployment of new safety and health training programs for workers involved in hazardous substance response.
Example? NIEHS COVID-19 Response Training. Chip sets the bar for emergency response training expertise. Don’t miss this.

Links and Show Notes

NIH COVID-19 Resources: https://tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/covid19worker/

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health & Safety Institute. This is a special edition of the podcast recorded on April 16th, 2020. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer, and today I'm joined by Chip Hughes.

Chip, is currently the director of an innovative federal safety and health training program based at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the NIEHS. The program supports cooperative agreements to develop and deliver model safety and health training programs for workers involved in hazardous substance response with numerous universities, unions, community colleges, and other nonprofit organizations throughout the nation.

For the past 20 years, Chip, has worked in both private and public sectors in developing environmental occupational health education programs for workers and citizens in high-risk occupations and communities. As part of this work, he has pioneered efforts to create new methods and approaches for conducting needs assessments, reaching underserved populations, developing training partnerships, and creating innovative program evaluation and assessment measures.

 

Chip, was given the Health and Human Service Secretary's Award for exceptional service in November, 2001, for his role in responding to the World Trade Center attacks. And after the NIEHS response to the Katrina disaster, Chip, was given the HHS Secretary's Award for distinguished service in 2006, and the NIH Director's Award in 2011 for responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2011, Chip, was given the Tony Mazzocchi Award for lifetime achievement by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

Under Chip's leadership, the NIEHS grant support of 40 million is annually committed for the development and administration of model worker safety and health training programs consisting of classroom, hands-on, online, computer-based and practical safety and health training of workers and their supervisors, who are engaged in activities related to hazardous material and emergency response. Those last two words, my guests, emergency response, is exactly why I asked Chip to be our guest today.

While we would love to hear his story of how he wound up in safety and health like all of our other guests, and maybe he'll tell us a little bit of that today too, I asked him here today to spread word of the work that the NIEHS is doing now to help respond to our current COVID-19 pandemic and how you can access that help for your workforce.

Chip, welcome to the show.

Chip:

Thank you, Jill.

Jill:

Chip, let's maybe start from the beginning for maybe people who've never heard of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences before. Is it part of the National Institute of Health or how does that work?

Chip:

Yeah, we're a part of the 27 institutes of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. And really going way back to the 80s, there was an effort in Superfund to start to think about protecting people who were responding to Superfund cleanups, and we had a combined program between research, health research and then training, safety and health training, and that was authorized under the Superfund SARA Act in 1986. That's when the Worker Training program and the Superfund program came to NIEHS.

Jill:

Oh, so it's been around a long time.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

Many years.

Jill:

Yeah. What crisis does the Worker Training program respond to or has responded to in the past? How does that work?

Chip:

Well, I guess, where we started, and there's a famous picture of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Chemical Control Superfund Site ablaze. And in the foreground there's a picture of a New York City firefighter, FDNY, in his dress blues, actually, just his regular uniform, who's rowing a boat. And in the boat is an EPA emergency response team staff person in full level-A, looks like moon suit.

And the boat was being rowed across the river in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to the Superfund Site, and as any safety and health professional who might look at the picture and say, "What's wrong with this picture?" It became a metaphor for where our program began which is knowing that, for us as federal workers, we usually have a really high level of protection. We have access to training, we have access to resources, we have safety and health plans, we've thought through our response.

But for the other workers who are at, at this point, a Superfund emergency, who are local people who might be cleanup workers or local emergency responders, there was certain no protection or there was no thought about what protecting folks would need to encompass. That is how Section 126 of SARA was created, which created two parts. One, it ordered OSHA for I think the only time in its history to promulgate a standard for HAZWOPER 1910.120, and it set up a grant program as a companion to that which was the art program on HAZWOPER.

That's how we started and really with that idea that we have a giant divide in this country between people who get a lot of protection and people who get no protection. That's where we started, from that picture.

Jill:

Wow! And so the audience that you serve then, changes likely with the emergency that's happening in the country.

Chip:

For sure. And obviously when you look over the last 30 years in each individual one and for our program, probably the first one that happened as a national disaster was the Exxon Valdez oil spill which was the first time that there was a large scale mobilization of an army of cleanup workers that attempted to do clean up of the oil on the shores of the Sound in Alaska, Prince. And so that was the first time, and this is ironic that HAZWOPER standard was in process of being promulgated. I think the emergency temporary standard had been promulgated. And the State of Alaska and the federal government ask for an exemption from the training requirements for the people who are involved in the cleanup.

And this has come back to haunt our nation a number of times where we say, "Well, you know what? We really don't have time to do training and we really don't have time to go through this whole protocol of HAZWOPER, we just can only do just in time training for people who are exposed." An exemption was granted for people who are what are called skilled support personnel, which is a category of HAZWOPER where for people who respond to disasters, there's a minimum amount of information that people are given about what exposure situation that they're facing.

Anyway, in the Exxon Valdez, that was the first time that OSHA, I'll try to say this nicely, suspended its regulations because of a disaster. And of course, I could go on numerous examples of the past 30 years of where this has continued to happen but for us in our program, we feel like a disaster is a time when you need to pay even more attention to protection not pay attention to protection. That's a little background on why our program became important and why we in a lot of ways got stuck in this position of always having to do just in time training, which I always call just too late training, because what it is that you need to know, for example, if a pandemic's going to happen, we do know what needs to happen for people who are engaged in infectious disease response.

But unfortunately for most people who are engaged in that, they've not had the necessary training at an operations level, for example, to be able to understand how to protect themselves. So, anyhow.

Jill:

Yeah. So your organization in times of crisis and times of emergency of various types, like people heard about in the introduction and some of the examples you've given now, your organization is looked to, to provide that unfortunate just in time training.

Chip:

Unfortunate.

Jill:

Yeah. Right. And so, when things like are happening now happen, which different agencies or organizations become your sources of information to pull all of this just in time training together, assuming that it doesn't simply happen just at your organization but you're reaching into different places too. Correct?

Chip:

Yes. I mean, a couple of things on that for your audience, the National Response Framework and the National Recovery Framework which should be called the National Response Plan, also the National Contingency Plan. Interestingly, the National Contingency Plan which deals with oil spills and chemical spills was actually started out of the Superfund out of CERCLA. That would've been in 1980 during the Love Canal response.

The structure of the federal government's response is built on interagency cooperation usually under the leadership of FEMA. Although in the case of a biological event, it's under the leadership of Health and Human Services [inaudible] the agency I work for, which we could write another whole tangent about why the National Biodefense Strategy is not integrated into the National Response Plan, and gets to the question of who's in charge, but ESFs, which are Emergency Support Functions, are the federal structure in which groups of agencies partner as teams in the National Response Plan.

So, NIEHS and ATSDR and a number of the agencies that were created under the Superfund, were written in as part of the National Contingency Plan so that we have a role to play in national response and we fit into a structure of support functions that are what make up the National Response Team. What we do in our moving to activation, we have our emergency support activation plan that is done in concert with other federal agencies. That's when we begin the process of assessing the situation, doing a needs assessment on training, gathering core documents that relate to work or protection issues, initiate contact with frontline workers in the disaster and the organizations that they are a part of.

And so, I guess over the years we've developed a, I guess, a methodology of how we actually move to a practice-based, evidence-based, science-based information source that is what's possible for us to develop training tools and products and classes and curricula that can be useful for people to understand how to protect themselves, and every time we've gone through that process.

And what's funny, I remember, I think Hurricane Katrina went through, I think, eight to 10 different versions of our guidance. As the situation changed, the risks changed, the hazards changed, the populations that are involved changed. Anyway, we've gone through that every time and have a process for that. So, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. Let's talk about the current crisis that your organization is responding to. What does that response look like right now? What have you been working on? Who have you pulled together? And what's available?

Chip:

Yes. Well, going back a little bit of some history, we built an infectious disease response program after we received supplemental funds during the Ebola Crisis in 2015, 2015. And a lot of what we were exploring at that time, we did a national training assessment on infectious disease preparedness at that time. And that was probably right when the first patients from Africa had been brought back to the United States and were being treated at Emory, and in Nebraska, Texas, New York.

We started exploring what the relationship is between the occupational and environmental health community and literature and guidance and what the nature of infectious disease and biosafety related approaches are. And what we learned is that those two worlds, I'll say, are... And disciplines and professions, are worlds apart in a sense that there's not a lot of communication and integration that happens around dealing with pathogens in a sense of what we as professionals would think about as CBRN, chemical radioactive nuclear bio... Traditional hazard thinking strategy.

One of the things that we did was created an all pathogens approach to infectious disease response, and created a pathogen safety data project that was a way to build, I'll say, you liked this before, pathogen literacy.

Jill:

Yes. I just wrote that in my notes because I heard you say pathogen literacy before and that we have a pathogenic illiteracy issue in our country.

Chip:

Yes. We have a great deficit in pathogen literacy. And I know I'm going on a tangent, but I think I'll bring it back. We found that Public Health of Canada had been pioneers in building Pathogen Safety Data Sheets. In the middle of this Ebola Crisis, we were thinking about building a pathogen-based HAZWOPER program that would be an all hazards and an all pathogens approach to doing training for people who are emergency responders and cleanup workers.

What we learned is that, we, I'll say, in occupational health, might be very familiar with MSDSs or [inaudible] SDSs, but we found that there was very little knowledge of PSDSs and that the principles of infection control disinfection, all the things that we now as a country are very familiar with because we've been educated by COVID-19, were protection principles that were different than what we as health and safety professionals in a chemical context or radiation context or nuclear context might not be as familiar with.

We decided that we would try to build programs that would create literacy and practice and knowledge within a broad swarth of viruses, bacteria and other organisms that we don't think a lot about. And we as a program have had actually long experience. I think we built the first anthrax course in conjunction with the postal workers after the anthrax attacks. And again, same thing, how do we think about HAZWOPER and the precautionary principle in an anthrax situation? And at that time we were focused on postal workers.

Earlier on, actually, subsequent to that, we did a big project with H5N1, Bird Flu, and again, that was another one where our grantees in Iowa were on the front lines with culling. Do you want me to be more specific?

Jill:

Yes. No, I know what that is. I worked in the poultry industry.

Chip:

Yeah. But anyway, like in that we had a partnership with APHIS in USDA and built a program for agricultural workers and again, all those principles that now we know so well about contact tracing, infection control, disinfection, social distancing. Those are all principles that we worked on... Actually, we worked on with the Pentagon, we worked on with the USDA. And I'll give you one funny tangent. It's the only meeting where I ever had a military person assigned to protect me during the meeting because...

Jill:

When you were at the Pentagon?

Chip:

No, no, no, with the agriculture department. We wanted to have a meeting to talk about our H5N1 training around Bird Flu, and they were concerned that we would even have a public discussion about what we were talking about, which of course, it was about killing animals. Okay?

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

It was funny because each of us who were speakers and main participants, had a military person assigned to protect us from PETA.

Jill:

Wow!

Chip:

People who are concerned about animal rights, which I totally as a one health, first of all, I totally get, but it was funny to think back that there was not any concern about the workers but there was lot of concern about the animals-

Jill:

Yeah. About the animals, right.

Chip:

Yeah, but, anyway.

Jill:

Oh, interesting.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yes. Interesting tangent. Thank you for sharing that. [crosstalk 00:23:17]-

Chip:

Back from my tangent. Okay.

Jill:

Yeah. What you're saying is, you have many levers at your disposal. This isn't the first time that your agency has considered like, "What do we do in a situation like this with pathogens?" In fact, you've been working on it for a long time and so you're pulling those levers together now.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

What's likely different, I'm guessing, is who those emergency workers are now and what your audience is and how varied it is in terms of people who need training and information right now.

Chip:

Definitely. I mean, always our work starts with emergency responders. We've actually had a 30 year relationship with the International Association of Fire Fighters and they have been, I'll say, our North Star in terms of emergency responder protection and being able to build out from NFPA and what would be the highest level of protection that we might want for folks doing a response and starting there, which is what the precautionary principle is all about.

As we go into situations where we face unknown levels of exposure, of course, the old idea from the textbooks going back to Ramazzini or Alice Hamilton, is that you want to start with a higher level of protection and then as you characterize an environment, you can move down to lower levels of protection, but unfortunately that's not usually how things happen. And so, that's been a challenge for us with populations who get pulled into different aspects of disasters as they move from response to recovery, that big groups of people get drawn in to having exposure and having engagement with the hazardous substances that we're concerned about affecting their health.

Just as another, for example, I had said something about the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, when the Deepwater Horizon happened, actually, I was with my friend, David. Was the head of OSHA. And John Howard, the head of NIOSH, called him up and just said, "Maybe we should go do something because I think this is going to be a really big deal," and that was when we forged a partnership with BP early on and with the coast guard to plan for like what we had done as well in Alaska, knowing that all of a sudden there would be these hundreds of vessels of opportunity that would be sucking up oil and collecting oil with skimmers and hundreds of thousands of people rescuing pelicans and cleaning rocks.

And so, again, like how that one rolled out, we were able, in partnership with federal agencies, the state BP, Texas A&M, a number of other folks, built a training program with like a four hour course that was delivered to about a hundred thousand people in like a couple of weeks during... That was, well, after April 24th. So during May and June of, I don't know, whatever year that was, 2011.

Jill:

Right, a while ago.

Chip:

That was one where the people who would be the ones who would be what we would consider the front line workers, it was hard to imagine a head of time, but like with so many disasters, and bringing it up a little bit closer to the current... In Katrina and then specifically in Hurricane Sandy where we have disasters over broad geographical areas, the shock troops become community volunteers, church members, local residents who get conscripted. In each of those cases, a lot of what happened is that the training materials and the training process and the leveraging of PPE became focused on building through VOADs, volunteers in disasters organizations, as it became clear that they were in a place of vulnerability.

Each one is a little different in both, I think... I'm trying to go back to your original question, which is about target populations and how we target those populations and what the process of figuring that out is.

Jill:

Yeah. And so, your organization has this history of rapidly pulling together training, which is what you're doing right now as well. And then you need to get it into people's hands. And a little bit ago you mentioned your grantees, so you're also a granting organization.

Chip:

Yes.

Jill:

And so, those grantees are part of the piece that gets information, the training specifically, into hands of people who need it. Correct?

Chip:

Yes. I am actually a boring bureaucrat from my other life. I have missed your federal dollars and invest them every year in actually efforts that we hope protect the most number of people with the highest risk that we perceive.

Jill:

Sure.

Chip:

And I'll just say, I mean, my philosophy about disaster response it's really just about what you do every day. And so, building a safety conscious workforce isn't about what happens during a disaster, it's about what happens the day before the disaster.

Jill:

Right.

Chip:

It's what you do every day and it's how you are conscious. Your health conscious and your safety conscious of what your job is, what your tasks are, what your hazards are. So really the idea of our grant program is to create training courses that build cadres, both of trainers and trainees that have a mission of building a safety culture within this country that can be infused into the operations of organizations. They might be corporations, they might be agencies, they might be community groups or volunteer groups or churches, but to infuse that knowledge that we as health professionals maybe take for granted about what industrial hygiene is about or what epidemiology is about or what safety engineering is about or what ergonomics is about, but to be able to take that and socialize it and embed it within organizations where that isn't necessarily what their main purpose is.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

And to me then that's more what our mission that we really took on after, I'll say after, the Pile, at Ground Zero, was, how do we prepare a nation that has preparedness for a broad spectrum of emergencies and then organizations that can also be disaster ready. So I'd say, our organization of our grantees that are universities and unions and community colleges and local organizations, have really had that as their mission, which is to try to create a prepared workforce to be able to handle whatever's thrown at us by either God or our enemies or circumstance, broadly-

Jill:

Mother nature, right.

Chip:

Mother... Yeah, she throws stuff at us too. Climate change. Yeah.

Jill:

Chip, tell our audience about the training that you've rapidly developed for this crisis, for the COVID-19 pandemic, and where is that available and what's on the horizon for next and next training as this continues to evolve?

Chip:

Oh, sure. Yeah. I actually remember New Year's dinner, I think I was at a Chinese restaurant, just noticing Wuhan and what was going on and watching having lived through the same dawning awareness of like WTF, like what's going on here? That maybe this is something to pay attention to.

Jill:

Your spidey senses were up.

Chip:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. And since we've been through it before, knowing what the potential was for that. We had started thinking about this earlier on and then watching maybe the reticence at moving forward by certain parts of our government that we thought it would be a good idea to lean forward. So we did start leaning forward and drew a lot on our infectious disease grantees and the expertise that we'd had before.

And then by the time late February, March came, we had already decided that we would launch a training tool on COVID-19, since it had been named, and since looking at information coming particularly from the WHO, doctors from our borders, colleagues in China and later in Italy, that the issue of worker protection was central to the issue of dealing with the epidemic, the pandemic, and the virus.

We saw this as [inaudible] in our wheelhouse in terms of bringing the core principles of worker protection to the table for the preparedness of our own country and our own workforce as something that had been part of what we've always done anyway but knowing that there's very specific public health, worker health, environmental health, infection prevention messages that need to be brought to specific parts of the workforce that we could see were going to be, I'll say, sucked into this process, with healthcare and emergency response being number one and number one.

We started building a training tool that gathered guidance across the government, convened meetings with other agencies, started to be informed by local groups on the ground like in Seattle where the first outbreak came. I also remember the first group that met the... Is it called the Diamond Princess? The ship?

Jill:

Yeah, right.

Chip:

And actually, good friends and colleagues were part of that process who had been sent, if you remember, that was actually the first whistleblower situation for federal workers-

Jill:

Right. Sent to California to get those people off the ship.

Chip:

Yeah. Yeah. With no protection.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

Thinking back, that was a real... I should say, kick in the pants, because then it gets personal when it's people you know, and I remember that made us even want to ramp up more when we knew that federal employees were being deployed with no training and no protection into exposure situations which should have no business happening. So, anyway, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. So the training that's been created so far is for emergency response workers as you've identified them for this particular emergency, and then that training obviously is being used by your grantees, the organizations that you had just mentioned, but it's also available to anyone on your website, correct?

Chip:

Yes. Yes. Yes. And-

Jill:

Okay. And so, we can... Yeah, go ahead.

Chip:

Yeah. Now, we get to the part about why we should mention Vivid.

Jill:

That's not what I... So the training is available [crosstalk 00:39:14]-

Chip:

But the online training is available through Health & Safety Institute Vivid, definitely go there.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

No, and I'm trying to go somewhere with this. Okay? I'm not just doing marketing.

Jill:

Yeah. Tell me about your website so that people know where to find that, and we'll be sure to put it in the show notes as well. Our producer will include it there.

Chip:

Yes. Yes. Well, we went through a very wonderful process of getting authorization from the White House Coronavirus Task Force to release information that had been blessed, that was according to the core of what we could assemble and discern from all of the guidance that was given by other agencies, and it's available on our website for download, it's available on a phone, it's available in a computer, it's available for trainers to train in a Zoom platform or in a face-to-face platform.

I also want to mention the online platform and that was what is really exciting about this initiative, Jill, is that our virtual safety training initiative for COVID-19 is really the first time that we've built a large national engagement around virtual training, online training, computer-based training, that we've really engaged let's say hundreds of organizations and people and thousands of people in trying to quickly come up to speed about worker protection issues and I've been really excited about that because it's brought together the core principles that we believe in about adult education that learner engagement and smart classrooms are a core part of what we believe is part of a blended learning approach that can engage learners in a classroom, engage them virtually, engage them in hands-out activities and be able to do that quickly in a way that hopefully increases the level of protection and the safety consciousness of people who are COVID-19 responders right now.

And so, the journey that you've been on with us over the last month or so is that, we've been in the middle of a, say, a hard pivot of moving towards responding to what our term to be the essential workforces that really are critical to life-sustaining activities. And we probably never would have imagined that the food store could become a hazmat site or the delivery of food could become a hazmat encounter, and that we would have to have a level of consciousness among the workforce and among those organizations to be able to ramp up their level of protection and their safety consciousness.

We're in the middle right now of completing our essential worker training tool, and really our hard pivot is around this question of bringing back the economy and bringing back organizations, corporations, different sectors, and knowing that the new normal that we all know as safety and health professionals is going to look really different from what the old normal was, pre-pandemic.

Jill:

Right.

Chip:

And that we know that you can't do that unless you have a highly protected, highly motivated, highly educated, workforce to be able to engage in essential daily activities without increasing the potential for more cases, more flare-ups, for hotspots, unless we have that level of safety awareness that is going to be necessary to move forward without creating a second wave or a third wave. That's, I'd say, where we are right now.

Jill:

Right, right. Yeah, and your organization had to make a quick pivot. You had mentioned you have cadres of trainers who are used to doing these things in person with human beings in a room all these years and the initiatives that you've done, and then suddenly it's like, "You know, we have to apply the brakes because we can't do that anymore." And so, having to come up with all of these unique ways like so many people here are experiencing just with having meetings and using all of these platforms to be able to do meetings virtually, and we needed to do the same thing for training.

And so, Chip, you were mentioning our company a little bit ago and the fact that we've been working together, which is part of it. We've just been part of the solution in helping bring an online platform to that, and thank you for that opportunity to serve in this way.

Chip:

No, and also what's funny, Jill, is that, as you may remember, when DigitalChip, #DigitalChip, @DigitalChip, that's my Twitter handle. I've been a digital native. I launched our Advanced Training Technology Initiative in 1997.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

We created the principles of adult learning and advanced training technology. I believe that was the last century, if you're keeping track.

Jill:

Wow! Ahead of the curve tip.

Chip:

Sort of, yeah. Well, I can really do a long tangent about our workers guide to Y2K, which maybe in another episode we can talk about that.

Jill:

We'll happily have you back.

Chip:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But where I was trying to go with this is that I had actually reached out to you when we decided we were going to build out our minimum criteria to encompass online learning and blended learning, and, Jill, was really our keynote speaker for our training technology workshop which... I don't know, I can't remember when that was. A couple of years ago.

Jill:

I think it was four, maybe four or five years ago. Something like that.

Chip:

Yeah. Something like that. And out of that, actually, our minimum criteria that if you're keeping track is actually Appendix E of 1910.120, 29 CFR, which is the criteria for training and that has been our Bible or [inaudible] for doing training and the principles of adult education in health and safety which is, actually if people are paying attention, ANSI Standard Z490, that I was one of the people who started that, which is the criteria for environmental health and safety training which now has an e-learning annex.

Anyway, we have tried to be true to our principle. Was in doing this digital shift. And as you know, we did a rather large Train-the-Trainer operation for, that was like a four hour, a six hour block, where what I was so excited about was we did a webinar, a Webex, with about 150 people. We had an hour for our Train-the-Trainer. Then we had using Zoom. Each of the groups had a team of four to six people who during breakout worked as a team in their Zoom breakout rooms and then came back together for doing their report backs to the bigger group of... So each of the four people then would report back to the 150 people. And I believe... I can't remember when that was. Like a couple of weeks ago.

Jill:

It was a couple of weeks ago and it was really pretty amazing because it was these... Yeah, you said a couple of hundred people who are normally in front of audiences doing their training and they're using the training tool that you've developed and all of a sudden you're like, "Okay, break out into your sessions and report back." And I think we all just collectively held our breath, like, "Is this going to work?" And remarkably it did and it was beautiful and we heard back from all of these people and it was really fun to be part of.

Chip:

Yeah. I mean, just the quality of what we got back from the groups was like amazing.

Jill:

Yeah. And you know, when I say fun, that's definitely an operative word right now in our current situation because we're listening to so much heartbreak, but when it's working and people are getting value out of it, that's where the fun piece comes in for any of us who are doing work of safety and health for sure.

Chip:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

And I think that, doubling back to our earlier conversation, mental health we've learned, we built a large disaster resilience program with SAMHSA after Deepwater Horizon and actually that was a big part of Hurricane Sandy where I think part of my responsibility is to keep the spirits lifted of our community, and I know I do it because now it's like I'm a Zoom administrator for my men's group, for my temple, for my family. I host pandemic Pilates every Saturday morning.

But coming back to the issue about how we, let's say, minister to and care for our communities and really that goes back to another earlier theme, I think, that we saw that occupational health and environmental health cannot be and should not be separated from mental health as an issue and that's a core part of our resilience program for disaster responders and disaster supervisors is that taking a broad view of what being healthy means has really always been a big part of our program.

And so, the fact that we need to use these new digital tools as a way to maintain human contact, becomes so important, I think, to all of us. And we know that there's still a giant digital divide out there that we've always really been very cognizant of with technology, but I think we've come a long way towards overcoming some of those technology barriers because of this disaster and the immediacy of the need for maintaining human contact.

Jill:

Right.

Chip:

When you say fun, I think that's what you're referring to.

Jill:

It is.

Chip:

Although maybe nobody would call what we're doing fun but I know I'm working harder than I've ever worked in my life.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

I'm having fun.

Jill:

Yeah. Right.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. Using that as the operative word, I know.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

I think we've all shed buckets of tears-

Chip:

Yeah, definitely.

Jill:

Trying to meet the needs that are so valid in our faces right now.

Chip:

Yeah.

Jill:

When people go to the NIEHS website again to find this training that we're talking about, which we'll put in the show notes, they'll be able to find the first iteration of the Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 in the Workplace, is what its title is. And like Chip was saying, it's available in both a downloadable version that you can have on a PDF if you want with some notes. And if you're a trainer, you can take the online version and it's free to anyone, you don't have to pay for this. And then that same website continues to put valuable information out there for people to access.

And then, Chip, you were mentioning that the next pieces of training that are under development right now are for essential workers and breaking up different hazard pieces, if I'm understanding correctly. Right?

Chip:

Yes. Yes. Yeah, let me just say, I think the other seminal event that happened which was Saint Patrick's Day, the weirdest Saint Patrick's Day ever, we had our COVID-19 response meeting workshop that was supposed to be in Atlanta, and that is now actually, I believe it's a six hour block that is available on our website. And just ironically, we had already planned to do the meeting in two segments.

One was, what are the roots of the difficulties in our biopreparedness as a nation? And it was conceived as a lessons learned meeting from our Ebola response and what went well and what didn't go so well. And then we, again, pivoted to using that as, if you want to look at why we weren't prepared and then what we're doing to be prepared in the afternoon session. But that's also available on our website for viewing and all the presentations.

And then I'll also just say, we also had a webinar series. We've hosted large webinars around healthcare issues, research emergency response, training issues that are also all available at our website. If people want to increase their pathogen literacy, I think we have a lot of information. And don't miss the PSD module. If you're a real geek and you really want to get into pathogens, that's also available. So, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. And these workshops are happening weekly and have been for the last number of weeks. And so, all of those are available on the website as well. This particular week's was about respiratory protection and it was valuable, presented by the University of Maryland. Correct?

Chip:

Yeah, that was [crosstalk 00:56:19]-

Jill:

If I'm remembering, and it was fantastic. So look for that as well. And check [crosstalk 00:56:26]-

Chip:

Yeah, just to say one thing about that. I mean, that was interesting. That was... Started to be focused on elastomeric respirators, and I think the thing that we've always been concerned is that the gap of... Well, we coined the term HAZWOPER for healthcare many years ago with my friend, Paul, but healthcare has not embraced HAZWOPER approach and there is not a big leap really to be able to do better in protecting healthcare workers with taking, I'll say, HAZWOPER approach or hazmat approach, and that was what we were trying to emphasize in this week's presentation, that really it was because the University of Maryland after H1N1, 2009, embraced a worker protection approach based on the hierarchy of controls that made them so much more ready to treat patients in this pandemic because of what they'd learned back in 2009. So, anyway, [crosstalk 00:57:41]-

Jill:

Yeah, using those best practices from HAZWOPER.

Chip:

Yeah, that was really good. Really good.

Jill:

Yeah.

Chip:

So, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah, it was. It was. Chip, thank you so much-

Chip:

Oh, yeah.

Jill:

For your time today.

Chip:

Of course.

Jill:

Really, really appreciate it. And thanks for your leadership all of these years, allowing so many people to stand on your shoulders so that we can reach out to the workforce who needs us now more than ever. And thanks for letting us be part of that too.

Chip:

Hey, I'm a civil servant, you're a taxpayer. I'll basically do whatever you tell me to do. Hopefully, you get your value out of your tax dollars. That's my goal.

Jill:

Well, we appreciate that as well.

Chip:

Great.

Jill:

And to all of our guests, thank you so much for spending your time listening today. And more importantly, thank you for your contribution, making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro Community Group on Facebook. If you're not subscribed and want to hear past episodes or future episodes, you can subscribe in iTunes, the Apple Podcast app, or any other podcast player that you'd like. You can also find all the episodes at vividlearningsystems.com/podcast.

We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review us on iTunes, it helps us connect the show with more and more safety and health professionals like you and I and Chip. If you have a suggestion for a guest including if it's yourself, please contact me at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Special thanks to Will Moss, our podcast producer. And until next time, thanks for listening.