Friday, May 06, 2005

More unkind cuts: NIOSH

First the AFL-CIO makes Draconian cuts to its health and safety staff (for the gory details see Confined Space). Now comes word that NIOSH,, CDC the part of CDC that does the science that undergirds health and safety standards is also getting the axe. In a piece by James Nash in Occupational Hazards we learn that CDC will eliminate 13% of the maximum number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions in their 2006 budget. FTEs will go from 1435 to 1246, a theoretical loss of 185 FTEs. However NIOSH currently only has 1300 positions filled, so the actual loss would be about 50 real bodies. NIOSH's budget is essentially unchanged from last year at $285.9 million.

Indeed CDCs commitment to occupational health and safety has come under question, with two of the leading professional groups, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), taking the position that NIOSH should not be part of CDC.
In a March 8 letter to CDC Director Julie Gerberding, ASSE President Gene Barfield criticized CDC's 2004 report on the state of CDC for failing to devote appropriate attention to workplace safety and health issues. Barfield enclosed with his letter ASSE's position statement calling on Congress to consider relocating NIOSH as an independent agency within the Department of Labor.
It's pathetic when Bush's Department of Labor is seen as a more congenial place for health and safety than CDC. It is not a compliment to DoL. It is an incredible indictment of CDC.

Apparently influenza is not the only topic CDC has taken its eye (and hand and budget) off of. Too busy sucking up to the bioterrorism zealots and their business partner vultures, no doubt. Who cares about workers when there are really important matters to attend to.