NIOSH, OSHA heads talk budget constraints at conference

Chicago – The heads of both NIOSH and OSHA discussed the financial hurdles their respective agencies face in today’s economy during a June 13 plenary session at the American Society of Safety Engineers Conference and Exposition in Chicago.

Within the constraints of OSHA’s budget, agency administrator David Michaels called the balance between enforcement and compliance assistance programs an “art and science” in trying to find the most effective strategy for a wide range of employers.

At NIOSH, which saw a 14 percent budget reduction for fiscal year 2011 and faces deeper cuts in FY 2012, Director John Howard said the institute was looking at increasing partnerships to stretch limited resources. One such partnership was with Gallup to include safety and health issues in the survey company’s polls.

Michaels also announced that a white paper would be released explaining how the agency intends to enforce a proposed rule for injury and illness prevention programs. The paper would be released before the I2P2 rule is published, he said.

Michaels spoke at length in defense of the proposed rule, stressing that it would not be an “open door” allowing inspectors to cite anything and would save employers money.

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