The U.S. debt agreement will force lawmakers to make tough decisions on where to cut government spending. OSHA is one senator’s target.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) wants to slash at least $72.6 million from OSHA’s budget and refocus the agency’s priorities from enforcement to employer assistance programs.
Coburn has issued a deficit reduction report that includes five pages on OSHA. The report states:
- OSHA’s budget has gone up $72.6 million from 2008 to 2011
- Additional resources have been directed toward enforcement
- The number of OSHA inspections done each year dropped from 2008 to 2011
- OSHA eventually reduces 98% of the penalties it issues
- Statistics show voluntary compliance programs, such as the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), have a proven track record of success, are cost efficient and cover more places of employment than inspections
- Since enforcement doesn’t seem to be working, and VPP does, OSHA should emphasize voluntary compliance programs while ensuring its limited enforcement tools are effectively targeted and carried out, and
- OSHA’s Susan Harwood Grants that fund training and education programs duplicate other OSHA efforts and should be eliminated at a cost saving of $11 million a year.
Despite footnotes throughout Coburn’s report stating where certain statistics came from, the report doesn’t list the source for its figures on OSHA inspections. OSHA’s own annual reports show the total number of inspections rose from 38,667 in 2008 to 40,993 in 2010, a 6% increase.
The effectiveness of VPP has been questioned by a report from the Government Accountability Office.
And it’s interesting to hear a Republican critical of OSHA reducing fines for companies.
What do you think of Coburn’s report and its conclusions? Let us know in the comments below.