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Opposition mounts to proposed NIOSH move

June 25, 2004
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Two major professional groups — the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Society of Safety Engineers — have weighed in with complaints about the planned reorganization of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that both organizations argue will damage the status of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The planned CDC reorganization would "cluster" NIOSH with the National Center for Environmental Health, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in a new Coordinating Center for Environmental Health, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Health.

Notice the word "safety" is not part of the new coordinating center.

The director of NIOSH would no longer report directly to the head of CDC, but would instead report to the director of the coordinating center.

AIHA is concerned about the loss of the direct reporting relationship between NIOSH and the director of CDC, the potential loss of funding for NIOSH in its new coordinating center, and the possibility of reduced interaction between OSHA and NIOSH.

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

"ASSE objects strongly to the proposed reorganization because it can only result in a dilution of NIOSH's importance in the CDC and, therefore, a dilution of this administration's commitment to occupational safety and health," wrote ASSE President James "Skipper" Kendrick.

"We agree that ASSE's suggestion regarding moving NIOSH into the Department of Labor could be a viable solution,” said AIHA President Donna Doganiero.

"In addition, we recommend moving NIOSH into the National Institutes of Health as an independent agency be considered. The research focus of NIH would be an excellent complement to NIOSH's research efforts."

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