CDC isnt the only agency protecting health and safety thats strained. The shutdown has forced the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to halt its regular mine safety inspections, which it normally conducts at each of the nations underground mines every three months.
The lack of inspections is coming under scrutiny after three mine workers died in separate accidents on three consecutive days during the past week. The coal mining industry has not had three consecutive days of fatal accidents in more than a decade. MSHA has said its premature to draw any conclusions about the link between the shutdown and the accidents, but the nations largest mine workers union has raised alarms.
“The governments watchdog isnt watching,” United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts said. “Safety violations that would normally be caught and corrected as a result of those inspections are being missed. Even the smallest violations, when allowed to accumulate, can lead to dangerous conditions very quickly in a coal mine.”
Federal occupational safety and health inspectors also have stopped most workplace checks, and the National Transportation Safety Board is only investigating accidents if officials believe lives or property are in danger.
The Food and Drug Administration also has stopped routine inspections of food facilities in the United States and abroad, and border controls could be delayed. Food imports are still being inspected at borders, but any samples that need to be analyzed could be stalled because there are fewer scientists to analyze them.The CDC also has had to halt its surveillance of flu, an infectious disease that kills about 24,000 Americans in an average year.