Continuing a pattern that has played out through the Obama administration, the President’s proposed FY 2014 spending plan would cut the OSHA budget for compliance assistance programs and add money to the agency’s whistleblower enforcement program.
Overall, OSHA’s budget would increase by less than 1%, going from $569 million to $570.5 million. The budget breakout:
- $5.9 million more for whistleblower enforcement, a 37% increase over the current budget
- $2.8 million less for compliance assistance programs, a 3.6% decrease
- $2.1 million more for development of safety and health standards, a 10.5% increase, and
- $208 million for federal OSHA enforcement, the same as the current budget and also the biggest line item in the agency’s budget.
As the administration reduces compliance assistance, funding comes into question for OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which recognizes employers that have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.
Regarding VPP, OSHA administrator David Michaels said, “The agency will slow the growth in the number of new cooperative program participants,” in a web conference discussing OSHA’s proposed budget.
Michaels also said OSHA has no plans to charge fees to companies that participate in VPP. The agency had considered that, but it backed off after some lawmakers objected to the idea.
Industry lawyer Baruch Fellner tells Bloomberg News more companies would have to spend money to hire consultants because of the proposed compliance assistance cuts. That’s money the companies could spend on hiring more employees or investing in their businesses.
OSHA proposes to save some money by collapsing its 10 regional offices into 7. The proposed mergers:
- Regions 1 (Boston) and 2 (New York)
- Regions 7 (Kansas City) and 8 (Denver), and
- Regions 9 (San Francisco) and 10 (Seattle).
The region mergers would save $1.3 million.
What do you think about the proposed OSHA budget? Would you rather see the agency spend more money on compliance assistance programs? Let us know what you think in the comments below.