In response to proposed budget cuts that would eliminate NIOSH Education and Research Center training grants, HFES has joined with other safety-related scientific associations, universities, and the current ERCs (a group called the Friends of NIOSH) in a letter to Congress to emphasize the potential loss to business and industry if ERC funding is cut off.
Federal training grants from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are a major means of support for developing occupational safety and health professionals through ERCs and Training Program Grants (TPGs). Ergonomics, which is often offered as a blended program of study with safety, is offered at 8 ERCs and 7 TPGs. The NIOSH grants provide critical stipend and tuition support for students in 15 universities across the United States. Also on the chopping block are Agricultural Research Centers.
NIOSH has been funding ERC and TPGs for more than 25 years. ERCs train more than 250 professionals each year in ergonomics, occupational medicine, industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational safety, and other specialty areas. These cuts will have a large impact on the number of students graduating with expertise in ergonomics.
Considering that ERCs have a substantial presence among 10,000 domestic businesses, public institutions, and foreign employers, the short-term savings will be lost business profits.
The final 2012 budget will not be known for several weeks, and HFES members are encouraged to stay informed and write letters to their congressional representatives about what having federal funding for supporting graduate students in ergonomics means for the future of HFES, the health and safety of workers, and benefits to employers.
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