Employment Law Report
NPR Reports that House Seeks Major Cut in OSHA’s Current Budget
On March 1, 2011, National Public Radio reported on its website that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to cut about $99 million in federal spending in the current fiscal year from the budget for the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). According to OSHA Administrator David Michaels, the proposed a 20% cut as applied to the remaining months of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, actually amounts to a 40% reduction in OSHA’s budget for the period covered. Michael’s says this would have a devastating effect on his agency’s activities during the next 6-7 months.
House Republicans have claimed that OSHA’s recent stepped enforcement activities threaten jobs and focuses too much on “punishment [rather] than prevention.” At a recent hearing on the issue, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Michigan Republican Tim Walberg, questioned the agency’s priorities.
NPR quotes OSHA Administrator Michaels as countering with: “[w]e know that OSHA doesn’t kill jobs. It stops jobs from killing workers. When employers embrace safety, they actually save money.”
Peg Seminario, the safety and health director of the AFL-CIO, is also quoted by NPR: “[w]e now have a much bigger workforce than we had 40 years ago when OSHA was started. But they would propose to slash the agency, slash enforcement, slash standards-setting, leaving the agency essentially crippled and unable to do its job to protect workers.”
The U.S. Senate now has to take up the House-passed cuts and, along with the President, has to come to some agreement with the House to avoid a government shutdown.