By Jordan Barab
If you haven’t yet done so, it’s time to do so. And if you have done so, do it again: Contact your legislators about passing a budget that will protect workers.
The House Appropriations Sub-Committee that deals with OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH is scheduled to mark up the FY 2018 Appropriations Bill on Thursday, July 13. A mark up is where they take the proposed bill and change language or add amendments before it’s voted on by the Full Committee, and then the full House of Representatives. Although we know what the Trump administration is proposing — eliminating worker training, safety and health research and independent chemical accident investigations — but we have no idea what the actual House bill says at this point. It could be better — or it could be worse than Trump’s proposal, and it could contain poison-pill amendments that would prohibit OSHA from enforcing its silica or record keeping standards.
What Do We Know About the Budget?
We have written before about what’s in President Trump’s budget proposal and it’s not good.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- The budget eliminates OSHA’s Worker Safety & Health Training Program: The OSHA Susan Harwood Grant training program has funded groups to train over one million U.S. workers on health and safety hazards and their rights at work, and has created hundreds of publicly available training materials in over a dozen languages.
- The budget will reduce OSHA’s enforcement staff by more than 10% from the 2016 level. It already takes OSHA, on average, 159 years to inspect every workplace in the country. (That means if Abraham Lincoln had started OSHA, it would not quite be finished inspecting every workplace in the country.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Trump’s budget slashes the budget for the only agency that performs key scientific and application research that help workers, employers and state programs improve safety in the workplace.
- The budget eliminates Education Research Centers – training and research programs that focus on industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine and occupational safety.
- Eliminates funding for expert research — on job safety; surveillance of lead poisoning, silicosis and other diseases; and NIOSH’s National Construction Center.
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
- Trump’s budget increases coal miners’ risk of injury and death by cutting $3 million from MSHA’s budget and reducing the number of safety inspections in U.S. coal mines by nearly 25%.
Chemical Safety Board
- Trump’s budget eliminates the Chemical Safety Board, the only agency that performs independent chemical incident investigations: The Chemical Safety Board is a unique agency in charge of investigating major chemical incidents (explosions, leaks) independent of enforcement. CSB focuses on root cause analysis and preventing future major chemical incidents that affect workers and communities surrounding chemical plants. (The Chemical Safety Board budget is in a different committee than OSHA and will not be marked up on Thursday.)
What Can You Do?