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Federal agencies

Agency budget cuts threaten worker safety and health, report claims

October 2, 2013

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Washington – Cutting the budgets of government safety agencies could lead to more unsafe workplaces, more injuries and higher costs for businesses, according to a new report from the Center for Effective Government.

Released by the watchdog group in August, the report notes that OSHA’s resources have not kept pace with the growing economy over the past 30 years. In 1981, one compliance inspector was available per 1,900 workplaces; in 2011, that ratio was one per 4,300 workplaces. The ratio of inspectors to workers has likewise changed, with the number of workers per inspector doubling in the past three decades.

Proposed cuts to the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s budget would return the agency to a funding level not seen since the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine.

NIOSH already has seen its budget reduced 20 percent from 2008 through 2012, and additional cuts would undermine its mission of researching workplace hazards and solutions, according to the report.

Any potential cuts to these agencies hamper their ability to oversee the nation’s workplaces and improve safety, putting workers at risk, the report suggested.