Leading safety organizations are appealing to members of Congress to preserve federal funding for OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Read on to find out why concern is high.
The request came in a letter signed by 13 leading safety and health groups, including the National Safety Council, American Society of Safety Engineers, and American Industrial Hygiene Association. The organizations are appealing to Rep. Tom Cole, the Republican chairman of a House labor subcommittee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic ranking member, to support a fiscal year 2018 budget appropriation for OSHA of at least $573.8 million. Adjusted for inflation, that’s level with the amount enacted for fiscal year 2016.
The signers also asked that the lawmakers support funding for NIOSH at a minimum of $339.1 million and preserve the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector program. That initiative is on the chopping block in the budget proposal.
Overall, the Trump administration’s proposed budget would cut $2.5 billion from the Department of Labor and would eliminate funds for OSHA Susan Harwood training grants, which the White House calls “unproven.” That would yield about $11 million.
The letter noted that, daily, about 12,000 U.S. workers sustain injuries on the job that are serious enough to require medical consultation, 11 die from an unintentional work injury, and 145 die from work-related diseases. This burden, they say, costs industry and citizens about $4.8 billion per week.
The groups say the level funding is the minimum required “to ensure the health and safety of our nation’s workers.” They advised against cutting the NIOSH agriculture, forestry, and fishing program, pointing out that the fatality rate in that job sector is nearly seven times that of the overall industry average.