For anyone who was worried (or hoping) that the Trump administration would gut worker safety, the next budget does neither. In the budget request released this week, the administration is requesting roughly the same funding for OSHA as the department received this year. Under the request, OSHA would receive $543 million, about what it had to spend this year.
Dig a little deeper and the administration is trying to alter OSHA’s course to make it more proactive in working with industry to solve safety problems, rather than waiting until a company is caught violating or an employee gets hurt. The budget would increase staffing to support the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), which helps companies produce top-quality safety programs. The request would also restore vacancies that have not been filled in the compliance and investigations side. The administration caught flack recently for leaving compliance positions vacant.
On the negative side, the budget requests zero funding for the Susan Harwood Training Grant program just like last year, a decision that upset many in the safety field. Critics also argue that OSHA is already underfunded and a flat budget just causes it to fall further behind.
Remember, for many years Congress has not exactly followed this or any President’s budget requests. However, by asking for the same level of funding, the Administration is signalling that it will not push to lower safety thresholds in the American workplace.