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Does reorg bury NIOSH?

June 18, 2004
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Workplace safety and health advocates worry that NIOSH and the field of employee safety and health are losers in a recent reorganization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By placing NIOSH into the Coordinating Center for Environmental Health, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Health, NIOSH is moved down one level within the CDC structure and loses its identity, protests the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.

NIOSH director Dr. John Howard fully supports the reorganization.

In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tommy G. Thompson the American Society of Safety Engineers voiced its opposition to the move, and suggested it may be time to move NIOSH from HHS to the Department of Labor.

ASSE objects strongly to the proposed CDC organizational design because that design can only result in a dilution of NIOSH's importance in the CDC.

The group's members are concerned that under the CDC reorganization proposal, NIOSH will go from an agency reporting directly to the head of the CDC to an agency under the direction of interests that have no demonstrated commitment to occupational safety and health issues.

Members are also concerned that the design proposes to take away from NIOSH's control important organizational resources that NIOSH uses to fulfill its mission, including its own marketing capabilities, its involvement in budget efforts with Congress, and its oversight of Educational Resource Centers (ERCs).

ASSE urges this design proposal be changed now to ensure NIOSH the organizational independence that it needs to carry out its uniquely important mission.

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