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OSHA Budget Proposal Cuts Training Grants

Friday, March 16, 2018

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A grant program that for four decades has funded safety training via nonprofits, schools and unions is on the chopping block in the Department of Labor's proposed 2019 budget, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Donald J. Trump shifts its focus to enforcement for major offenders.

While Trump's budget proposal cuts $1.1 billion from the DOL, OSHA is requesting funding equal to what it recieved last year. Shifting priorities, though, have led the agency to plan to defund the Susan Harwood Training Grant program.

Overall, OSHA requested $549,033,000, which includes changes to five of the 10 budget categories for the agency: federal compliance assistance, enforcement, training grants, technical support and executive direction.

Increased Enforcement Efforts

The increase in enforcement funding will allow OSHA to hire 42 new full-time employees, with plans to conduct 30,840 inspections in 2018, focusing on the most complex and highest-impact inspections in at-risk workplaces. As part of this new focus, OSHA will also be launching a weighted system in 2019 that will measure and prioritize enforcement and other essential activities.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

In President Donald J. Trump’s budget proposal for 2019, $1.1 billion is slated to be cut from the Department of Labor, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requesting the same amount of funding received in 2018. 

Responses to reports of severe injury are projected to increase the number of unprogrammed (unplanned) inspections the agency conducts, even though these inspections take twice as long as the programmed. Even though this may reduce the funding available for enforcement in specific areas, the additional staff slated to be brought on board will reportedly help mitigate this issue.

Grant Funding Cut

In order to balance out the increase in spending in both the enforcement and compliance assistance fronts, OSHA has eliminated all funding from the Susan Harwood Training Grant program, which received $10.5 million a year in 2017 and 2018.

The 40-year-old program provided grants to nonprofit organizations to conduct and develop safety and health training programs.

“OSHA has no evidence that the program is effective, and measures the program's performance in terms of the number of individuals trained,” the agency says in its budget proposal. “In addition, it is not clear that the training funded by these grants would not happen absent the federal subsidy.”

According to the agency, the increased funding requested for compliance assistance programs will allow it to train more employers, filling in the gap left by the Harwood Training Grant Program.

Other Adjustments and Fine

The compliance portion of the budget proposal for 2019 requests for $5.1 million, or 7 percent, increase over 2018 levels. Federal compliance in turn focuses on providing information and aid to small businesses.

OSHA also noted that since 2013, 33 compliance positions had been eliminated. The agency is looking to fill 24 of those positions in order to broaden both reach and support to employers.


Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Government; Grants; Health & Safety; NA; North America; OSHA; Worker training

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