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Safety Agencies’ FY 2018 Budgets Survive Despite Significant Labor Department Budget Cuts

In its fiscal year 2018 budget, the Trump Administration recommended $543.3 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a decrease of about two percent from the fiscal year 2017 $552.8 million funding level.

In contrast, the Administration recommended a nearly 20 percent reduction in the Department of Labor budget, compared to fiscal year 2017. Much of the Labor Department decrease includes eliminating training efforts considered ineffective, such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

The only OSHA program the Administration proposed ending is the Susan Harwood Training Grants program, which would result in savings of $10.5 million. The agency said it plans “a number” of non-regulatory initiatives for FY 2018, including “conducting outreach and education on a variety of hazards such as: communication tower radiation, infectious diseases, emergency response and preparedness, agricultural safety, and exposure to chemical hazards.”

It plans to develop “expanded” resources related to helping responsible employers improve their safety and health management programs. The Administration also plans a “major outreach and education activity” with the “Safe + Sound Campaign,” in which OSHA partners with stakeholders to promote the voluntary adoption of safety and health programs by businesses. It said that under its “$afety Pays program,” OSHA will continue providing tools and guidance to employers to show the financial benefits of good safety management.

The Administration also said it expects to publish three rules in 2018:

  • A new beryllium exposure rule, including “additional compliance assistance materials”;

  • A rule to make minor changes to several regulations under the “Standards Improvement Project” (SIPS IV); and

  • A rule for emergency response and preparedness.

It also said that OSHA plans to make “a number of significant updates to the Whistleblower Investigations Manual.”

The OSHA plan does not include a recommendation for fewer federal inspections or employees. The number of federal inspections is estimated at 31,000, about 950 fewer than were conducted in fiscal year 2016, the last full year for which data is available. The budget plan calls for OSHA’s workforce to decrease by 26 employees, to 1,969, in fiscal year 2018.

The budget includes $207.5 million for federal enforcement and $100.7 million for state program enforcement. Federal compliance assistance is slated for $72.4 million, while state consultation grants are expected to be $57.7 million.

The FY 2018 budget allocates $375.2 million to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, about the same level as the year before. The budget has $3 million less for MSHA’s coal enforcement program, providing $157 million, and about $97.9 million for MSHA’s metal/nonmetal enforcement program.

The Administration said, “MSHA anticipates an increase in metal and nonmetal mining due to infrastructure revitalization. Therefore, MSHA projects that the need for MNMSH compliance assistance and mandatory inspections may increase.”
MSHA personnel would decrease by 42 positions, to a total of 2,110 positions, in FY 2018.

Funding for the two independent agencies adjudicating worker and miner safety citations — the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission — would remain about the same for FY 2018, compared to the previous year.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Carla J. Gunnin, Jackson Lewis, OSHA Lawyer, Employment Safety Attorney
Principal

Carla Gunnin is a Principal in the Atlanta, Georgia, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is Co-Leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health practice group. She focuses her practice on occupational safety and health issues.

Although she is based in the firm’s Atlanta office, Ms. Gunnin has a national practice and litigates cases before federal and state administrative tribunals throughout the United States in matters of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) law and Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) law.

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