Federal agencies

Safety groups to Congress: Maintain funding for OSHA, NIOSH

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Photo: Senate Appropriations Committee

Washington – Funding for OSHA and NIOSH helps protect the health and safety of the nation’s workers and should not be cut. This was the message of a recent letter sent to lawmakers from more than a dozen safety organizations.

The groups – which include the National Safety Council, the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals – asked Congress to include at least $573.8 million in funding for OSHA and at least $339.1 million in funding for NIOSH in the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. Those figures represent the funding amounts for the agencies in fiscal year 2016, with OSHA’s allocation adjusted for inflation, the groups state in the letter.

The letter was sent to Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ranking member of the committee. A similar letter was sent to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The funding totals pale in comparison to the cost of workplace injuries and fatalities, according to the letter. About 12,000 workers sustain injuries every day that require medical attention. Eleven workers a day – more than 4,000 per year – are killed, and many more die from work-related diseases. All told, the injuries and fatalities cost industries and citizens an estimated $4.8 billion per week.

“OSHA ensures safe conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance to employers,” the groups wrote in the letter. “… [NIOSH] is the primary federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illness and injury.”

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