Government Shutdown: Worker Health & Safety, Employment Law

October 3rd, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

It looks like the shutdown could extend beyond a few days so we’ve gathered information and resources, occupational health & safety edition. We’ll update as we find additional news and resources.

Government Shutdown Reduces OSHA Inspection Force by More Than 90 Percent
More than 90% of its inspectors are on furlough. “OSHA head David Michaels said in the plan that the agency must have enough staff to respond to workplace fatalities, catastrophes and situations posing imminent danger.”
Some states have their own state plans and these will remain open:
“OSHA has approved state plans in 25 states. Twenty-one of those states police occupational safety and health for all non-federal employees; four oversee public sector employees only.”
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation – 3 out of 20 employees will remain active, but there are no investigators to respond to emergencies.
The World Trade Center Health Program and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program can continue to operate because they draw from alternate funding sources.
Mine Safety (MSHA)
Ken Ward talks about the MSHA shutdown plans to furlough 1400 of 2355 employees nationwide. “The agency inspects and enforces safety rules at coal and other mines, writes health and safety regulations and reviews certain safety plans that need federal approval before operators can mine.” He discusses United Mine Worker Safety concerns, as well as
Employment services
John Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog discusses DOL, EEOC, eVerify, NLRB, IRS and other employment-related governmental services: How the government shutdown affects labor and employment law
Health Agencies
NIH, CDC feeling government shutdown’s effects
CBS News reports on the National Institute of Health, already reeling from $1.5 billion in sequester cuts, must now shut its “hospital of last resort” and must turn away some 200 people, about 30 of them children, who want to participate in experimental treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control has furloughed about 8,000 workers, who would track “outbreaks of diseases and hospital-acquired infections, foodborne illnesses and the 2013-2014 flu season.” A memo from the Department of Health and Human Services. says the CDC will be “unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program.”