The U.S. Department of Labor has released details of the 2019 fiscal year budget. Up 9.3% from FY 2018, this year’s budget request totals $10.9 billion.
|Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. Photo by Susan Walsh/AP|
“The President’s budget provides a fiscally responsible framework to advance the Department of Labor’s mission,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in a statement. “Prioritizing workplace safety, this budget reflects a strong commitment to the American workforce.”
Worker safety laws and compliance assistance comprise a significant portion of the budget, which includes the following allocations:
$549 million of the new budget will be allocated to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The funds will be used to help ensure American workers are safe while on the job.
From within the OSHA budget, roughly $135 million will be put toward compliance assistance activities. That includes efforts to improve employer outreach and training.
OSHA will use some of the additional funds to hire more workers – something that many industry experts say is long overdue.
The current plan is to add 71 full-time equivalent workers. 42 of which would become compliance safety and health officers. The rest would assist in areas such as outreach and the Voluntary Protection Programs.
One program that likely will not receive funding this year is OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.
The Department of Labor intends to use the savings from that program “to maximize flexibility and use alternative methods to develop and distribute training materials to reach the broadest possible audience.”
This is the second year in a row that the program has failed to receive sufficient funding.
NIOSH and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) are also expected to see some significant budget cuts.
The administration is proposing to cut $135 million from NIOSH’s $335 million FY 2017 budget. They also plan to eliminate its Education and Research Centers. It also would end “direct federal funding to support academic salaries, stipends, and tuition and fee reimbursements for occupational health professionals at universities.”
The CSB requested $12.1 million for FY 2019 and made its case for the funds by stating that “the resources developed by the CSB will be used nationwide to prevent the loss of life, injuries and damage to surrounding communities that result from these preventable chemical incidents.”
But the Trump administration wants to allocate $9 million for the independent agency to wind down operations. Advocates for the cutback say that the CSB has a “relatively duplicative nature of [the agency’s] work, and the administration’s focus is to streamline functions across the federal government.”
Some critics argue that the FY 2019 budget is too closely aligned with the 2018 budget. Many safety advocates felt that the existing budget was insufficiently funded. They had hoped to see an increase in funding for the upcoming year.
According to Secretary Acosta, the budget “includes important reforms to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to maximum effect.”
Congress makes the final decision on the allocated budgets to each federal department. Staffing changes could take place after the midterm elections in early FY 2019, which begins Oct. 1.