***This letter was sent on May 15, 2000 to approximately 500 legislators, key staff members, and stakeholders on the need to provide adequate funding for safety and health government agencies in order to maintain the national focus on the importance of occupational safety and health.***
APPROPRIATIONS FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) offers its support for appropriations to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). We also offer support for the occupational safety and health functions of federal agencies such as the, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), and the U.S. Chemical and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).
We believe these organizations help maintain a national focus on the importance of occupational safety and health. We offer the following key points for your consideration:
OSHA, through its standards and enforcement activities, provides a needed base level of occupational safety and worker protection. It establishes a base from which our members and the companies and employees they serve, can build better systems for safety and health accomplishment. ASSE maintains that OSHA's Safety Standards Directorate is not being adequately funded, and this must change. Adequate funding will further assist in reducing the number of fatalities and injuries. Also, we believe that one of the significant issues in Congress regarding this year's OSHA budget will be whether to shift money away from enforcement and federal compliance assistance to State consultation. The current balance between enforcement and consultation is good public policy and should be maintained. In fact, the injury and illness rate reductions over the last 6 years are a testament to that. We note that there have been a number of consultation program administrators pointing out that without credible enforcement there will be less incentive for employers to use consultative services in either the public or private sector. ASSE believes that potential amendments which shifts employees and resources away from Federal OSHA to State consultation programs is not good public policy. The current balance maintains the national focus on occupational safety and health, and encourages increased usage of on-staff safety and health professionals in addition to both private and public sector consultation services. Finally, maintaining the existing balance would assist Federal OSHA in improving its image from that of workplace safety policeman to a full service agency.
Research is an area in need of more significant and direct support. The NIOSH Safety Research Division needs to be appropriately funded to reach its key objective - research effective and efficient ways to reduce occupational fatalities and injuries. It is important to note that overall funding for NIOSH is not consistent with other agencies in the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This inequity should be corrected in order to support the important ongoing activities related to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). Increasing NIOSH's funding will enhance the country's ability to guide occupational safety and health research over the next decade and improve worker protection in an efficient/effective manner. There should also be more direct appropriations support for prospective students seeking to pursue college degrees, up to and including a doctorate, in the safety discipline. A greater federal commitment is needed to not only fund occupational safety and health education programs, but to provide incentives for colleges and universities to institute such programs within their business and engineering schools.
Finally, ASSE would like to see more direct financial support to promote professional development opportunities for safety and health professionals employed by government agencies including encouragement of professional certification for public sector employees. Professional certification requires adequate education, experience, ongoing training, and passage of rigorous examinations. Supporting professional certification of public sector safety and health professionals will greatly benefit the country.
We thank you for your attention to this matter. If the Society can be of any further assistance on this matter please feel free to contact the Society at 847/699-2929.
Frank H. Perry, CSP, PE