The Department of Energy announced that it will combine its Office of Environment, Safety and Health with its Office of Safety Performance Assurance, despite some congressional concerns. DOE said it believes the major internal restructuring will improve safety for the department’s 114,000 workers at sites across the nation.

“As secretary of energy, ensuring the safety of workers across the DOE complex is my priority, and this new office will go a long way in strengthening our safety and security organization," said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

Senators and congressmen from both parties, however, voiced reservations over the change. “Today, the Bush administration took another step to weaken the health and safety protections our workers rely on,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “It ignored the expertise of safety professionals and many of us in Congress who strongly object to this flawed plan.”

The new Office of Health, Safety and Security will help form health, safety and security policies for DOE, provide help to department field offices, conduct oversight including field investigations, and enforce department regulations. A 17-page report is available from the department’s website that explains the reorganization.