Budget Cuts and Shifts for the US Dept. of Labor, Incl. OSHA

taken from Paintsquare.com, story by Eric J. Conn:

The Trump Administration submitted a blueprint budget for 2018 to Congress proposing $2.5 billion in cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor’s operating budget. The president’s proposed budget expressly calls for reduced funding for grant programs, job training programs for seniors and disadvantaged youth, and support for international labor efforts. It also proposes to entirely defund and eliminate the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) – an independent, federal, non-enforcement agency that investigates chemical accidents at fixed facilities.

The budget plan also purports to shift more funding responsibility to the states with labor-related programs. Finally, although less explicit, the budget blueprint appears to deliver on promises from Trump’s campaign trail that rulemaking and regulatory enforcement efforts under the myriad laws and regulations enforced by the sub-agencies, such as the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA, would be slashed.

The proposal would shrink DOL’s budget to $9.6 billion – down 21 percent from the $12.2 billion budget for 2017. Trump’s planned reductions would have a seismic impact on DOL’s ability to carry out both policy initiatives under former President Obama as well as many of the department’s longstanding programs. The 21 percent proposed budget cut at DOL would reduce funding for job training programs that benefit seniors and disadvantaged youth, and it would also shift funding responsibility to states for certain job placement programs.

OSHA’s enforcement programs will almost certainly be affected by the budget cuts. Given the hiring freeze and proposed budget cut, it would not be surprising to see furloughs or layoffs throughout these agencies in the near future. As a result, we expect companies will see fewer DOL investigations at the federal level, whether as a wage and hour audit under the Fair Labor Standards Act or an on-site inspection by OSHA.

In addition to the decreased funding (or complete elimination) of several DOL employment programs, the president’s proposed budget also outlined plans to eliminate workplace safety programs, including an entire independent federal agency – the Chemical Safety Board. This surprise came under the “Major Agency Budget Highlights” section of the proposed budget, stating, without explanation, that the proposed budget eliminated funding for several independent federal agencies, including the CSB.

The CSB was formed to investigate chemical accidents at fixed chemical facilities, searching for their root causes, and making recommendations to employers, regulators and others that could prevent similar incidents in the future. It investigates all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure, as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems

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