Safety Agencies Affected by Govt. Shutdown

As a result of the shutdown, OSHA has to scale back its operations and furlough nearly 2,000 employees. According to a shutdown plan updated last week, only 236 OSHA personnel will be on the job.

Because of reduced staffing levels, OSHA will respond only to fatalities, catastrophes, and complaints of employees exposed to potentially hazardous situations in which a high risk of death or serious bodily harm is present.

There will be no programmed inspections, no whistleblower investigations, and no interaction between employee representatives and inspectors.

Other government safety agencies, including NIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, also will be affected by the shutdown.

According to Newsweek, The government shutdown will put tens of thousands of coal miners and millions of other workers at risk of injury and death as health and oversight agencies are idle—a situation that led to the death of four miners during the last federal furlough.

During the 2013 shutdown, more than 90 percent of OSHA’s inspection team, and about half of MSHA’s team was furloughed. Three coal miners died in the first week of the shutdown. One more died before the end of the 16-day impasse.

As of this posting, Democrats have joined Republicans in voting for a short-term spending bill that would reopen the government and provide funding through Feb. 8. The vote was 81-18 to move ahead on the spending bill.