The American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the National Safety Council (NSC) are urging Congress to continue funding for OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the current budgeting process. In a joint letter, the three organizations urged congressional appropriators on the Senate and House Labor–HHS–Education Appropriations Subcommittees to, at a minimum, fund OSHA at the president’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding level and NIOSH at its FY 2014 funding level.
“Each year, over one million workers are injured seriously enough to require time away from work. Daily, more than 13,000 U.S. workers sustain injuries on the job that are serious enough to require medical consultation, 11 workers die from an unintentional injury suffered at work, and 145 workers die from work?related diseases. This burden costs industry and citizens an estimated $3.4 billion per week,” the safety groups wrote in their letters to the Senate and House.
"Efforts to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses will be jeopardized if funding levels are reduced for OSHA and NIOSH in the FY 2015 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. The president’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget, which was released earlier this month, would provide OSHA $565 million in funding, a number that is $13 million more than final funding in FY 2014, but still less than FY 2013 pre-sequester funding levels. The proposed budget includes an additional $4 million increase for OSHA’s whistleblower protection programs. Meanwhile, NIOSH’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) sector program and its Education and Research Centers (ERCs) are two programs that, for the fourth year in a row, face targeted reductions of $52 million in funding in the president’s proposed budget.
"Eliminating the NIOSH AgFF program would harm a fragile industry as the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries have a worker fatality rate that is more than eight times that of the all-industry average. Each year, almost 18,000 workers in this sector are injured seriously enough to require taking time away from work.
"The NIOSH ERCs, located throughout the U.S., provide much-needed research and academic degree programs in occupational safety and health. Many members of AIHA, ASSE and NSC work directly with the ERCs and utilize the ERC research. Safety officials note that with an aging occupational safety and health workforce combined with an increasing demand, the ERCs are essential to training the next generation of safety professionals."