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Progressives call push to change Constitution "risky," Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire; new report compares ways NY can get cleaner air, help disadvantaged communities.

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House Speaker McCarthy aims to pin a shutdown on White House border policies, President Biden joins a Detroit auto workers picket line and the Supreme Court again tells Alabama to redraw Congressional districts for Black voters.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Government Shutdown: Undermining Workplace Safety?

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Monday, October 14, 2013   

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - With many safety inspections suspended because of the federal government shutdown, observers say there's an increasing risk for workers. At least half of the staff members at federal safety agencies are furloughed, and many operations that normally keep workers safe on the job have stopped.

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman has been a leader in efforts to improve chemical plant safety for years. She pointed to the stalled investigation into the huge explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in Texas that killed 15 people last April.

"This is one of those areas where it should bring home to people the importance of Congress doing its business and getting us back on track, because we can't afford to have this lapse and continue any longer," Whitman declared.

Half of Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel are off work, as are 90 percent of the employees at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

According to Ronald White, the director of regulatory policy at the Center for Effective Government, federal safety inspectors and investigators have key roles in keeping the nation's construction sites, mines, factories and food processing facilities from becoming deadly, and the longer those work sites drift without inspections, the more dangerous they become.

"The bottom line is that the public and workers are going to see less protection while this government shutdown continues, and it's only going to increase in term of potential risks over time," White warned.

Some conservatives have argued that shutting the government down doesn't matter, but White said many of the federal safety efforts are nearly invisible, until something goes wrong. He pointed to the researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who track multi-state outbreaks of food contamination. At first, most of them had been furloughed as well.

"Because of this most recent outbreak of salmonella in chicken, that has sickened quite a large number, some of those people have actually now in the last few days been called back," he said.

It remains unclear just when the federal government will fully reopen.



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