Friday, October 4, 2013

How the Government Shutdown is Affecting Safety

According to an EHS Today article, the partial shutdown of the federal government has already begun to take a toll on safety professionals and the safety and health of U.S. citizens. Government staff furloughs include 15,000 FAA employees and nearly two-thirds of CDC employees. Additionally, FEMA has recalled some of its employees despite the current development of Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf of Mexico, and the National Transportation Safety Board could not send investigators to the fatal Tennessee bus crash because those employees have been furloughed as well.

Here is the current status of several relevant government agencies:

  • Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board - Current investigations have been frozen and future incidents will not be investigated until the shutdown ends. Thirty-seven out of forty employees have been furloughed.
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission - Partially closed, with a majority of workers furloughed, yet analysis of defective products and import monitoring will continue.
  • Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board - Open, fully functioning. If shutdown is extended, some employees may be furloughed.
  • Department of Homeland Security - Partially closed, with 31,295 out of 231,117 employees furloughed. Shutdown primarily affects non-disaster grant programs and data services.
  • Department of Transportation - Partially closed, but FAA remains near full functionality.
  • Environmental Protection Agency - Partially closed with 96% of workers furloughed. Most operations have been halted but some emergency responders remain at work.
  • Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission - Reported status is closed, but some operations continue.
  • National Transportation Safety Board - Partially closed, but major incidents will be investigated and ongoing investigations continue.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission - Completely closed. All employees have been furloughed except IT and administrative assistant.
  • USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service - Mostly open with the majority of employees retained.
Click here for a more extensive list of government services and agencies affected by the shutdown.