With Congress and President Obama apparently at an impasse over the remaining six months of the fy 2011 federal budget, a shut down on Saturday, April 9 seems imminent.

“The odds of this happening are actually pretty high as both sides cannot seem to agree on anything,” says Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

If a shutdown does occur, all non-essential personnel will be furloughed and many agencies shut down.

Trippler said the proposed fy 2012 budget – which will be taken up once the current fiscal year’s budget is decided -- includes approximately $100 million in cuts to NIOSH funding.

However, a $100 million reduction in OSHA’s budget could come sooner – during the remainder of fy 2011 – if proposals by Republican legislators are enacted.

“It’s hard to even imagine what a $100 million cut in OSHA funding might do to occupational safety and health,” said Trippler. “The proposal calls for huge cuts in enforcement and safety and health statistics, as well as cuts in state program funding, standard setting, technical support, etc.”

He urged AIHA members to contact their elected officials about the fy 2011 OSHA appropriations. “Let them know that cuts of this magnitude would have a devastating effect on worker health and safety.”

Trippler said many people involved with occupational safety and health – AIHA members as well as non-members – believe cuts are needed to bring federal government spending under control.

“This is probably true, however cutting programs that impact health and safety should be the last ones to be considered. Let’s hope both sides can compromise and move the country forward with a reasonable approach.”