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ASSE Opposes OSHA Funding Cuts, Cites Negative Impact on Safety

Posted in on Wed, Mar 16, 2011

 For Immediate Release                                                          Contact:  Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413, dhurns@asse.org

DES PLAINES, IL (March 16, 2011) – The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) letter to Rep. Dennis R. Rehberg, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies’, outlined its reasons for opposing the cutbacks to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) funding proposed in House Resolution (HR) 1 as a continuing resolution.  ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, PhD, CSP, noted in his letter that a proposed 17.7 percent decrease in OSHA’s funding that pushes the agency back to Fiscal Year 2004 funding levels is far too much and too fast a reduction to allow OSHA to continue the most basic work every Administration and Congress has expected from the agency. 

ASSE urged Chairman Rehberg not to adopt HR 1 as the proposed cuts could weaken OSHA and many of its programs.

“A less effective OSHA will not promote more jobs,” Hill stated. “And a three million dollar reduction in OSHA’s standard-setting resources will only delay the need to bring this nation’s hazard communications in line with the rest of the world, allowing our companies to better meet one set of global standards, helping them be more competitive in the world marketplace.

“Reducing by $41.3 million OSHA’s enforcement capability will have little effect on most of this nation’s employers already committed to safety and health without having to be told by OSHA to do so because they know it is good for their business as well as their workers.  However, less enforcement will help keep OSHA from targeting their competitors who are not committed to safety and health and, so, compete unfairly with them,” Hill added.  “Cutting $14.9 million, or 15 percent, of OSHA’s statutory commitment to state programs will only drive some state plans out of operation, taking away programs that our members believe are more flexible and more willing to work with employers cooperatively than if federal OSHA took over.”

ASSE is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It is the oldest safety society and represents more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals who work to help make sure that millions of employees leave work injury and illness free to return home safely to their families every night. ASSE members work with employers in every industry, every state and across the globe.  OSHA and its efforts to enhance workplace safety and health are important to ASSE and its members especially when it comes to helping prevent workplace disasters. 

ASSE was founded in New York City just seven months after the March 25, 1911, horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire which took the lives of 146 women and men working there that Saturday afternoon. Before leaving for the day a fire started on one of the top floors. The workers tried to escape but because of locked doors and melted fire escapes they could not find a way out. There were no fire safety precautions in place, just a couple of buckets of water. Thousands of onlookers watched helplessly from the streets below as the workers faces pressed onto the windows yelling for help and then as they crashed through the windows jumping to their deaths to the streets below with their clothes on fire. Soon after workplace safety legislations and regulations were formed and just a couple of years later the U.S. Department of Labor was established.  Officials note that the Triangle tragedy could have been prevented.

ASSE and its members continue to work to prevent another Triangle tragedy from ever occurring again as do several OSHA programs.

Hill noted, “ASSE is not against any federal agency working to help Congress’ efforts to hold the line on federal spending, but cutting OSHA nearly 18 percent is not a reasonable request.” OSHA should continue to assist safety professionals to work to prevent injuries and illnesses before an event occurs, not after another tragedy like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment.  Its more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, healthcare and education.  For a full copy of the letter please go to http://www.asse.org/professionalaffairs_new/  to view the ASSE – A Century of Safety film go to www.asse.org/assecenturyofsafety.  

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