The 25th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Joe Dear and Linda Rosenstock, who head the two agencies created by the legislation in 1970. Budget cuts, government shutdowns and reform hearings in Congress have put OSHA and NIOSH in a funk. A good party is just what they need. And some good press surrounding the event won’t hurt, either.

OSHA and NIOSH officials want to publicize the silver anniversary to the max: They’ll invite some 300 guests to an all-day celebration at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington, D.C., April 29th, and hope to garner lots of media attention leading up to the bash. Budgets being tight, neither agency can afford to splurge. But with the budget battle still being fought, nor can they afford to pass up the chance for free press. So don’t be surprised if OSHA’s birthday makes it onto the morning talk shows you watch and op-ed pages you read this month: "We plan to hype it," says OSHA spokesperson Cheryl Byrne.

"OSHA works" is the simple message folks at the agency want to promote. "We think we’ve accomplished a lot and it’s incredible at this juncture that we’re trying to do more while outsiders" try to dismantle the agency, says Byrne. "Even our survival is an accomplishment given what we’ve had to fight against and the misinformation with which the war [against OSHA] was waged." Guests at the April 29 event are in for a display of how both agencies work. Here’s a sampling of what’s in store for partygoers (at press time, no plans were confirmed): ·

  • A walking tour of worker health and safety-related exhibits at the American History Museum, including, according to one person, the door that—because it was locked—prevented workers at a Hamlet, N.C., poultry plant from escaping with their lives from a workplace fire; ·
  • Commemorative speeches from Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have also been asked to speak at the event. ·
  • The unveiling of NIOSH’s newly developed national health and safety research agenda, for which NIOSH spent the past two months touring the country gathering stakeholder input.