February 9, 1999

The Honorable Christopher "Kit" Bond, Chairman
Senate Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, HUD, and Independent Agencies
C/O Ms. Julie Dammann, Legislative Director
SR-274 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2503

APPROPRIATIONS FOR CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD

Dear Chairman Bond:

The purpose of this letter from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is to offer our insight on the need for increased appropriations to support the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

INTRODUCTION
Even though your office and ASSE have enjoyed a beneficial relationship on past safety and health issues we would like to offer a quick history of the Society.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), is the oldest and largest Society of Safety Professionals in the world. Founded in 1911, ASSE represents in excess of 32,000 dedicated safety professionals. Included in this membership are Certified Safety Professionals, Professional Engineers, ergonomists, academicians, fire protection engineers, system safety experts, industrial hygienists, physicians, occupational nurses, and an impressive collection of other disciplines, skills, and backgrounds. We pride ourselves on our dedication to excellence, expertise, and commitment to the protection of people, property, and environment on a world-wide basis.

ASSE serves as Secretariat of seven (7) American National Standards Institute Committees (ANSI) developing safety and health standards which are used by private sector organizations as well as state/Federal governmental agencies such as MSHA, OSHA, etc... ASSE members also sit on over forty (40) additional standards development committees and the Society sponsors educational sessions on standards development. The Society also has eleven (11) technical divisions consisting of: Construction, Consultants, Engineering, Environmental, Health Care, International, Management, Public Sector, Risk Management and Insurance, Mining, and Transportation. The ASSE members included in these divisions are leaders in their field with the knowledge and expertise needed to move safety and health forward on a global level.

SOCIETY SUPPORT FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH AGENCIES
ASSE supports federal safety, health, and environmental agencies such as EPA, NIOSH, OSHA, MSHA, and the newly established Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) since these organizations help maintain a national focus on the importance of occupational safety and health. Accordingly, after reviewing the proposed administration budget numbers for the CSB we put forth the following position:

The administration's proposed budget for the CSB is far below the expectations of this country's safety professionals, and we are very concerned this shortfall is a serious obstacle in preventing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities due to chemical incidents and releases. The Administration budget request of $7.5 million for chemical safety does not say much to the public sector's commitment in maintaining a national focus on the importance of occupational safety and health. We call on you to ensure that this new agency is funded in a manner which allows the CSB to meet its key objectives which are based on congressional mandates. Under the current budget scenario we see this as not possible, thus, leaving the American worker and general public open to potentially serious or catastrophic harm.

CSB APPROPRIATIONS
We point to the following key points of consideration for CSB appropriations:

  • CSB has already initiated nine investigations and 21 Reviews of Chemical Incidents. ASSE perceives these actions as an important consideration since the agency is maintaining a significant level of activity with inadequate funding. This indicates to us that the agency is a well run organization from both private and public sector perspectives.
  • With limited funding the CSB developed a basic infrastructure for operations which is consistent with its Congressional mandate.
  • The CSB implemented a business plan which enables it to meet the legal requirements established under the enabling legislation.
  • CSB has made extraordinary attempts to include key public and private stakeholders, such as professional safety and health organizations, organized labor, industry and commercial representation, administration officials, and members of Congress.
  • The CSB is the first National Repository of Chemical Safety Information and has established the First Consolidated Statistical Database.
RECOMMENDED FUNDING
We point out that the CSB operated with $4 million for nine (9) months in 1997 and $6.5 million in 1998. The administration's current budget request is $7.5 million for CSB, which is woefully inadequate for the agency to achieve its basic chemical safety goals. Our request is that your committee appropriate an additional $5 million to increase the CSB budget for a total of $12.5 million. This increase will enable the United States to guide occupational safety and health investigations and research involving chemicals over the next decade and enhance worker protection in an efficient/effective manner.

SUMMARY
The fact is that the CSB is an investment in the future of chemical safety in the United States. If past performance is any indicator, ASSE maintains the dividends for the American public have been significant. In this time of government reinvention, it is crucial that the activities of cost effective agencies such as the CSB not be curtailed. ASSE is concerned that protecting Americans from injury, illness, and fatalities due to chemical incidents is worth only $7.5 million. We implore you to ensure that the CSB receives a total of $12.5 million in appropriations. The safety and health of the American public could be resting in the hands of you and your esteemed committee members.

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.

Sincerely Yours,

Fred F. Fleming, CSP, OHST
Society President 1998-1999

Copy To:   Members, Senate Subcommittee/Independent Agencies
                    Senator John Ashcroft
                    Senator John Chafee
                    C. Apostolou, Majority Staff
                    A. Givens, Minority Staff
                    ASSE Contact list (887)

JPR/TRF/CORRS1122


     

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