Human death investigations must by law be properly implemented even when the decedent is involved in or near to the scene of a hazardous materials emergency. This project intends to develop worker health and safety training for those staff of coroners and medical examiners who investigate deaths in hazardous materials environments. This innovative training will be implemented by e-Learning applications, to be later supplemented by hands-on practice that is specific to the job tasks of death investigators. Federal law, implemented by the OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) rule at 29 CFR 1910.120, places certain requirements and restrictions on workers at hazardous materials response and waste sites. Unlike other, more general HAZWOPER training, this particular effort will focus on the relevant job tasks of death investigators, provide practical training, and be economical to administer for coroners and medical examiners. The intent of Phase I of this project is to conduct a hazard assessment with respect to the job tasks of death investigators at hazardous materials emergencies and other situations involving potential exposure of these workers to chemical, radiological and etiological agents. This will lead to developing a list of competencies that death investigators should possess to safely operate during a hazardous materials response or in a contaminated environment. A training syllabus will then be developed, in detail, to address the learning of these competencies. Typically, HAZWOPER training is more effective when verbal presentations are combined with hands on practice to refine and reinforce the presented skills. Phase I of this project will include researching, developing and evaluating the effectiveness of various combinations of ways of conducting the verbal (lecture) portion of the proposed course using e-Teaching means. The means are expected to include a mix of written material, still photographs, sketches, video clips, quizzes, automated feedback, interactive forums, scenario-based simulations, instructor feedback, and tests. An on-line resource library will provide continued e-Learning access to the students for later reference. Evaluation is expected to be by questionnaire, interview, quiz/test answer analysis and variation of the means of presenting the material to test groups of students. Phase II of the project is anticipated to be the combination of the e-Learning effort developed in Phase I with hands-on training leading to a certification of proficiency for trained individuals, e-Training for employers (coroners and medical examiners) of hazardous materials site workers on the administrative aspects of HAZWOPER compliance, as well as the implementation of the use of e-Learning tools to provide refresher training as required by the HAZWOPER rules. The application is rated at a priority score level of 38.

Public Health Relevance

Coroners and Medical Examiners have a duty to conduct human death investigations, including those where deaths may occur in proximity to the scene of a hazardous materials emergency. These death investigators may be exposed to contaminated environments, contaminated evidence and contaminated remains. This project will develop targeted hands-on training assisted by E-learning applications to provide health and safety training to workers investigating deaths. Unlike other, more general, HAZWOPER training this effort will focus on the relevant job tasks, be practical, and be economical to implement. It will be a self sufficient and legally compliant HAZWOPER training program for Coroners and Medical Examiners.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-JAB-J (DJ))
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Outwater, Theodore W
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D and E Technical, Inc.
United States
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