Occupational safety, health movement slows - C&EN Global


Nov 7, 2010 - That's the opinion Bailus Walker Jr. presented last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. Walker is d...
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Occupational safety, health movement slows "Occupational safety and health will remain in a mature active stage— experiencing neither substantial growth nor serious decline—throughout the 1980s if not longer." That's the opinion Bailus Walker Jr. presented last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. Walker is director of the Michigan Department of Public Health and the recent former director of health standards programs in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Focusing on laboratory safety standards, Walker says if examined in the context of current efforts at regulatory reform and of cutbacks in federal resources, it could be concluded that occupational health and safety issues for laboratories will be

shunted aside. But Walker expects that labs will be provided with a set of OSHA-developed guidelines for health and safety or the agency will endorse the National Research Council's "Prudent Practices for Handling Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories," or the National Insitutes of Health's "Guidelines for the Laboratory Use of Chemical Carcinogens." The occupational safety and health movement, he expects, will be quieter but still active with more emphasis on consultation rather than regulation and on information and education for "exposed" employees. Enforcement/inspection, he believes, will be given a lower priority. "We also can anticipate much less activity propelled by.. .health-effect studies or by demands of workers for greater protection," Walker says, "unless there are dramatic near disasters such as the Kepone incident or Three Mile Island." D

All R&D budgets but defense shrinking The message that the Reagan Administration is serious about cutting the federal budget, including the R&D budget, came through loud and clear at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting last week. First there was the keynote speaker, Presidential Science Adviser George

A. Keyworth II, who told the audience, "to those who may still hope for constantly growing budgets across the board, let me say this—that time has passed." Underscoring Keyworth's statement was the release by AAAS of its most recent analysis of R&D in the fiscal 1982 budget. Although a number of

Funding for defense R&D climbs sharply; other funds decline $ Millions

Defense NASA Energy Health & Human Services NSF USDA Interior Commerce Transportation EPA Nuclear Regulatory Commission VA AID Education Other TOTAL Defense R&DC Nondefense R&D

1982

1981a

1980 b

$20,596.7 $17,321.6 $14,021.1 5,939.7 5,522.7 5,243.4 5,867.4 5,768.4 5,503.0 3,971.1 3,806.0 3,986.8 970.0 816.0 384.6 304.0 280.6 277.0 231.9

933.6 810.4 417.9 355.1 398.6 363.1 216.2

% change 1981-82 1980-82

46.9% 13.3 -4.6 4.8

6.4 911.9 14.2 714.3 410.2 - 6 . 2 357.5 -15.0 397.1 -29.3 341.6 -18.9 190.8 21.5

9.2% 23.7% 18.9% -1.2 -4.6 7.6 -13.9 -19.7 -6.2 -7.8 -11.8 0.4 3.9 0.7 -8.0 -14.4 -29.6 -23.7 7.3

-17.1 128.2 135.5 - 5 . 4 154.6 -3.2 122.1 - 2 . 7 122.7 118.8 -17.0 129.4 107.4 133.8 -19.7 -17.4 500.6 -61.2 376.0 310.6 8.1% 20.9% $39,955.3 $36,960.4 $33,054.3 17.9% 45.1% $22,393.0 $18,987.6 $15,430.1 $17,562.3 $17,972.8 $17,624.2

-0.4%

% change constant $ 1980 1980-82 1981-82

-10.4 -3.8 -21.1 -28.4 -40.5 -31.7 2.3

-4.6 -7.5 -15.5 -21.4 -35.4 -30.0 -1.5

-20.3 -18.1 -32.4 -47.8 1.8% 22.2%

-23.9 -11.1 -23.8 -24.2 -0.7% 8.3%

-2.3% - 1 6 . 1 % -10.3%

a Estimates, b Actual, c Includes DOE defense activities. Note: Fiscal years. Source: /American Association for the Advancement of Science

6

C&ENJan. 11, 1982

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uncertainties remain as to what the final figures actually will be, the report estimates total appropriations for R&D approved by Congress at $40 billion—a figure that is about 5.4% or $2.3 billion below the Administration's March budget request but about 2% over the September call for a further 12% cut in nondefense spending. In current dollars the $40 billion represents an 8.1% increase over the total amounts available in fiscal 1981 and a 20.9% increase over the twoyear period 1980-82. However, the increase is entirely for defense R&D; nondefense R&D shows a slight decline. In constant dollars, assuming a 9% inflation rate in both fiscal 1981 and 1982, there is a real growth of some 22% in defense R&D, but a real decline of 16.1% in nondefense R&D over the two-year period 1980-82. The situation is much the same in basic research. Although the report cautions that total amounts available for basic research for fiscal 1982 have not yet been defined by the agencies, it estimates them at $5.3 billion. This figure represents a 12.8% increase over the two-year period fiscal 1980-82 in current dollars. However, in constant dollars this means a real 6.6% increase in defense basic research and a real decline of 6.6% in nondefense basic research. Given these facts, Keyworth says the time has come when it will be necessary to discriminate among research areas, allotting money to the most promising areas only. It also is time to ensure that research activities are properly capitalized, even if it means reducing the number of participants in some areas. "We cannot continue to assume that equipment and facility needs can be deferred to a better, future budget climate/' he says. And he warns scientists that if they do not make these hard choices themselves, others will, but with less acuity. In line with this need to discriminate, one priority for Keyworth over the coming year will be examining the role of federal laboratories in U.S. science and technology. He points out that "many of the labs are more than 30 years old, their original missions frequently forgotten. A large amount of federal R&D funds go to these labs. Can we honestly say that all of it is well-spent according to the criteria of excellence and pertinence?" Whatever the outcome of the review of their role, Keyworth says that federal labs should not slip into a situation where they are competing with private sector research. D