AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS

1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
847.699.2929
FAX 847.296.3769
www.asse.org

July 12, 2004

Representative C.W. Bill Young
Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
H-218 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515-6015

RE: Impact of Appropriations Decisions on Occupational Safety and Health

Dear Chairman Young:

As the Committee on Appropriations considers markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill (HR 2660), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges that adequate funding be provided in two specific areas vitally important in this nation's commitment to occupational safety and health – Susan Harwood Training Grants under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and overall Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding and its impact on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

ASSE represents 30,000 safety, health and environmental (SH+E) practitioners whose professional commitment is to help ensure that America's workplaces are safe from risks that keep workers from going home each night safe and healthy. Our specific comments are based on that professional commitment.

Susan Harwood Training Grant Program

Any reduction in OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grant Program from current funding levels of $10.5 million is short sighted. The program has a long, successful history of encouraging the development of creative and valuable training opportunities that help create safer and healthier workplaces. From ASSE members' professional view, training may very well be the most important element in any effort to limit safety and health risks in a workplace. Without a commitment to this grant program, innovation in training will be greatly harmed. Occupational safety and health is this nation will suffer.

Impact of CDC Cut on NIOSH

ASSE is also greatly concerned with the possibility that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could receive $90 million less in funding in FY 2005 than it did in FY 2004. Not only is this an unwarranted cut for the necessary work that CDC does to improve Americans' health in general, it also has the potential of significantly limiting the ability of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) within CDC to carry out its mission to advance occupational safety and health through its research activities. Along with various other safety and health organizations, ASSE has already voiced concern to this Committee about recent CDC reorganization efforts that are harming NIOSH's functional capabilities. These budget cuts can only weaken NIOSH's role. Occupational safety and health must continue to be seen as an integral part of CDC's mission. Federal commitment to advancing this nation's health must include workplaces, where Americans spend the most time away from home.

Conclusion

ASSE understands the difficult fiscal responsibilities the Committee faces in balancing seemingly endless needs at a time when international commitments loom large. Lessening this nation's commitment to safe workplaces should not be an option given that workplaces have proven to be at risk as at no time in the history of this nation. Our member SH+E professionals are working with employers and employees to face that risk but need to know that federal safety and health agencies like OSHA and NIOSH have the tools necessary to help them do that job. Please support them by ensuring adequate funding for these programs.

Sincerely,

Gene Barfield, CSP
President

Cc: Representative David Obey
Ranking Minority Member

 

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