Safety and environmental groups came together today to urge President Barack Obama to veto what they called “devastating cuts” to “already radically underfunded” agencies.
Public Citizen, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and 74 other groups, in a letter to the president advocated that he veto proposed fiscal year 2016 funding cuts to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The U.S. Senate bill would slash each agency’s funding about $19 million, while the U.S. House bill would cut OSHA funding 3 percent.
“These are devastating cuts that will make it harder to protect workers exposed to dangerous hazards on the job,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of National COSH.
“Today, there is only enough capacity for the average workplace to see an inspector once a century thanks to low staffing and incessantly inadequate budgets. It’s unacceptable that Congress is trying to make the problem even worse.”
In addition to funding cuts, “both bills also contain “poison pill” policy riders that would put American workers at further risk of death and injury,” the letter said.
The Senate bill would block the use of funds to promulgate or implement regulations about occupational exposure to silica without additional studies and the House bill would defund OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations to train employees and employers on the recognition, avoidance and prevention of health and safety hazards in their workplaces.
“If the proposed budget cuts are enacted, we will undoubtedly lose the worker safety and health improvements we've made over the years, as well as the opportunity for new achievements,” said Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.
“Also, if the harmful policy riders are included in the bill, workers will face more injuries and deaths, and Americans will face higher economic and social costs in the long run. It’s far past time for our government to live up to its promise to ensure all workers are safe on the job.”