In the final budget proposal of his term, President Obama has proposed significant budget increases for several agencies charged with protecting the health and safety of workers and citizens. These include OSHA, the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and several others. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said the proposal “makes investments to ensure that America’s economy works for everyone.” He added that it “envisions a future with greater opportunity for all, a future where a full-time job pays a living wage, where working families have the support they need to survive and thrive, and where retirements are secure.”
The budget proposal would provide a budget increase of $42 million for OSHA over the current budget, to $595 million. Line items include $18 million for Federal enforcement programs, $6.4 million for compliance assistance/consulting programs which provide critical services to employers such as OSHA safety training, and $5.9 million for statistics programs and $4.1 million for whistleblower programs.
Obama made similar requests last year but congress failed to approve them.
The proposal also makes requests to increase funding for other safety agencies, including MSHA, The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to Department of Labor, the OSHA budget provides resources to increase safety and security at chemical facilities and improve response procedures when major incidents occur, stemming from the Obama administration’s review following the ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion in West, Texas. The MSHA budget allows that agency to meet its statutory obligation to inspect every mine, and it supports implementation of a final rule on respirable coal dust exposure and enforcement activities intended to focus attention on employers with the most serious safety problems.