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House GOP Aims to Slash OSHA Funds

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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Congressional foes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have proposed to slash tens of millions of dollars from the agency’s standards, enforcement and information programs for the rest of this year.

The cuts would return OSHA to its 2004 funding level and could force shutdowns for several months, officials said.

House Republicans have proposed cutting $99 million from the OSHA budget in H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution that would fund the federal budget for the rest of FY2010.

"The Republicans have proposed a 20% cut, and given [that] half a year's over, that really means a 40% cut," OSHA administrator David Michaels says. "It would really have a devastating effect on all of our activities."

Hilda Sollis

House Education and the
Workforce Committee Democrats

The cuts would likely mean layoffs of hundreds of
inspectors and thousands fewer health and safety
inspections, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
told a House Committee.

The cuts would delay new standards, eliminate about 18,000 workplace safety inspections, and possibly lead to the layoffs of several recent OSHA hires, including 200 inspectors, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis has testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

‘Stops Jobs from Killing Workers’

Congressional Republicans have been working hard to fight what they call the “job-killing” excesses of several federal agencies, primarily OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Like all federal agencies, OSHA is under orders from President Obama to review its regulations and proposals for initiatives that are outdated, redundant or overly burdensome on business.

OSHA already has withdrawn two proposals since January: one that would have mandated more environmental controls over workplace noise and one that would have restored a check-off column for repetitive motion injuries on OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), which most businesses already keep. Business groups had opposed both measures.

Michaels says his agency needs to do a better job explaining the repetitive motion proposal. He also says that his agency reviews all rules for their impact on business and invites public comment on all proposals.

OSHA can protect jobs and workers at the same time, Michaels recently told National Public Radio. "We believe we can do both," he said. "We know that OSHA doesn't kill jobs. It stops jobs from killing workers.”

“When employers embrace safety, they actually save money. We know that's true. They often don't believe it, but we show them. And we have consultants who provide that information for free."

‘Shame’ for Employers

Not good enough, Republicans say.

Tim Walberg

First-term Rep. Tim Walberg
says OSHA is “more focused
on punishment than prevention.”

"Over the last two years, OSHA has not only attempted to implement several policy changes that would have profound impact on the workplace; it has become an administration more focused on punishment than prevention," said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

"Our goal should be to prevent workplace accidents before they happen, not simply shame an employer once a tragedy has occurred on the job site."

Cutbacks

The measure would make these cuts from both the enacted FY2010 budget and the FY 2011 budget request:

• Safety and Health Standards ($3 million)

• Federal Enforcement ($41.3 million)

• State Programs ($14.9 million)

• Technical Support ($4.2 million)

• Safety and Health Statistics ($34.9 million)

• Executive Direction and Administration ($0.7 million)

The “Safety and Health Statistics” cuts could eliminate the OSHA web site, which Solis said millions of people use. The Obama administration has proposed increasing spending on OSHA in the next fiscal year by just over 4%.

‘There May Be More Injuries’

Solis told the House committee that the cuts could lead to more workplace injuries, fewer inspections and reduced compliance.

OSHA is “on the front lines protecting workers from workplace hazards,” she testified in February. “Even though we have made incredible progress in protecting workers on the job since these two agencies were established decades ago, it is still wholly unacceptable that nearly 4,400 workers died last year on the job and over 3 million were seriously injured.”

The Senate’s Continuing Resolution maintains current funding of $558.6 million for OSHA. 

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Funding; Government; Health and safety; OSHA

Comment from Otis Hale, (3/11/2011, 8:02 AM)

Tim Walberg is a flat-out lying moron. And I`ll tell him that to his face.


Comment from john murray, (3/11/2011, 8:57 AM)

I don't know who Tim Walberg is, but i'm making a contribution to him today.


Comment from Tim Race, (3/11/2011, 1:51 PM)

Crippling OSHA (a small agency) is a boon to US Representatives/Senators looking to score campaign donations from industry. The proposed $99M cut is about half the cost of a single new F-22 Raptor fighter jet ($190M). "The F-22 Raptor program is producing the next generation air superiority fighter for the first part of the century. The F-22A will penetrate enemy airspace and achieve first-look, targets. It has unprecedented first-kill capability against multiple targets, survivability and lethality, ensuring the Joint Forces have freedom from attack, freedom to maneuver, and freedom to attack. (DoD Program Acquisition Costs by Major Weapons Program, May 2009)." I feel better already knowing that with the proposed OSHA cut we can afford another half of a brand new F-22. Who cares about the 4400 American workers who died on the job last year!


Comment from James Johnson, (3/11/2011, 8:18 PM)

When one looks at all the waste and extra personnel in any government agency it is easy to see where 20% can easily be cut from their funding with very little, if any, impact. It is about time politicians started looking at what their spending is costing us taxpayers and all the waste and duplication. Even the GAO says waste and duplication is rampant and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted. Also bear in mind virtually every state has its own OSHA agency watching out for worker hazards and it is easy to see the waste and duplication. I applaud those watching out for our tax dollars! Would someone mind pointing out to me where in the Constitution, within the Enumerated Powers, it gives the feds the right to regulate workers? No, don't tell me the commerce clause because that clearly was never the intention. The commerce clause was meant to "make commerce between the states regular" as in NY could not tax a NJ product unless it taxed all such products no matter where from. I've searched several times where the feds get their authority and I cannot find it.


Comment from Rick Thomas, (3/14/2011, 10:11 AM)

Does anyone expect the fall-out of this to be more death and destruction in the work place? I don't think so, we have the safest work environment on the Planet and this won`t change that.


Comment from Rudi Rennert, (3/14/2011, 10:37 AM)

If the government won't protect us from ourselves, then whatever will we do? Without OSHA fully financed, I fear the collapse of the Republic.


Comment from Catherine Brooks, (3/14/2011, 11:19 AM)

I worked with OSHA in the late 1990's to train their inspectors to move their role from law enforcement to community safety educators. Lone OSHA inspectors had fantastic understanding of the OSHA regulations, but few skills and experience in public speaking and adult education. They were eager to change from their policing roles to community resources for safety. I believe cutting OSHA funds will move the US backwards and away from PREVENTION OF WORK INJURIES. As Ben Franklin, a small business owner of a newspaper and an entrepreur and inventor said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."


Comment from Gregory Stoner, (3/14/2011, 11:24 AM)

Well, Mr. Johnson, you're right that there is a problem with waste in government funding but you're way off base in your assertion that all states have their own version of OSHA. There are a handful of states that have their own version of OSHA. It has to be at least to Federal OSHA standards. There are also a number of states that have a portion of their H&S regulations outside of the OSHA Regs but once again meet or exceed Feds version of H&S. The issue as to whether or not the Federal Government has a right or obligation to protect its citizens from harm on the jobsite...R U on drugs!!! Having been in the construction industry for almost 40 years, I can tell you that not only do we need OSHA, we need twice as many inspectors, because without inspections, safety drifts off until there is an accident with serious injuries or death. I hear these complaints about OSHA, but if you're following the Regulations (doing the minimum) then there should be no issue. For those of you that says OSHA picks on me, I say b******t. There are many checks and balances built into the system.


Comment from Car F., (3/15/2011, 2:28 PM)

Thank you, Mr. Race, I agree with your comment. Playing politics with people's lives is simple wrong, thus the apathy towards the political system and one of the lowest level of citizens' participation in electoral politics in the world. Government agencies are there to provide protection for the common good: they are non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious and publically owned. Their continue decimation, vilification and underfunding, by politicians of all stripes, is truly an afront to our civic values and common good. Industry and people will not prosper under those conditions. Kind regards to all of you for your comments and input.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/18/2011, 11:55 AM)

Perhaps OSHA should have been visiting University football practices and noticed the untrained scissor-lift filmographers before one toppled over at Notre Dame.


Comment from shane hirvi, (3/22/2011, 1:08 PM)

Often times OSHA inspectors have such limited experience dealing with our industry that they spend more time scouring a job-site seeking out defective extension cords and "out of date" fire extinguishers than focusing on what typically injures or kills people in our industry. EPA and OSHA definately have a place at the table in our industry. I sometimes forget that not all OSHA inspectors delve, as deeply, into the minutia of the risks, rules and regs of the industry as many in the industry.


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