OSHA Enforcement Faces New Cuts Under House Bill

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By Bruce Rolfsen

Fewer federal OSHA inspections will likely be conducted next year under a proposed fiscal year 2018 spending plan the House Appropriations Committee released July 18.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement budget would be cut more than 7 percent to $194.3 million, trimming $14.7 million from the agency’s fiscal year 2017 enforcement spending.

No funding cut is sought for enforcement programs administered by states, which would receive $100.9 million, the same as in fiscal 2017.

The committee is expected to vote July 19 on the spending plan, which also funds other Labor Department safety agencies.

During the hearing, Democrats will likely try to increase funding for OSHA and workplace safety agencies, a Democratic aide told Bloomberg BNA July 18. In past hearings, party-line votes have defeated most Democratic amendments.

Cuts Deeper Than Trump Sought

The proposed federal cut goes deeper than the Trump administration request seeking $207.5 million. The committee’s proposed funding, however, is close to the amount the panel sought for fiscal 2017—$193 million. That cut was reversed during later negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers.

Whistle-blower protection enforcement is funded separately from OSHA’s general enforcement efforts. Spending on whistle-blower protection is proposed to remain unchanged from fiscal 2017 at $17.5 million, according to the draft bill.

The committee bill doesn’t estimate how many enforcement positions OSHA would have to shed in response to the fewer dollars.

The proposed Trump budget providing more money projected lowering OSHA’s enforcement staff by 24 workers to 1,238, a 2 percent reduction. Inspections would fall to an estimated 31,000, down about 3 percent from 31,948 inspections in fiscal year 2016, the last year complete numbers are available.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at brolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The House bill's explanatory report is available at https://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/23920.pdf.

The House bill is available at https://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/turn_5_xml.pdf.

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