A budget cut is likely for the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a major detriment to the safety of workers and construction costs.
The House has proposed that the 2014 budgets for OSHA and other DOL agencies be cut 18.6 percent from their sequestered 2013 budgets, down from $150 billion to a $122 billion department-wide budget. The Senate, meanwhile, has proposed a 6 percent boost for OSHA’s budget, up to $567 million. With the House and Senate unable to agree on a federal budget for fiscal year 2014, which starts on October 1, the Center for Effective Government calculates OSHA’s budget could potentially drop to its lowest figure since 1993 when adjusted for inflation.
A necessary resolution is about more than just dollars and cents; the lives and well-being of workers in the construction industry are at stake. As stated in the report, What’s at Stake: Austerity Budgets Threaten Worker Health and Safety, “The deeper cuts proposed by the House would lead to an even sharper reduction in inspections and other health and safety activities at OSHA.”
OSHA safety training provides the construction industry with best practices to reduce accidents and injuries, which, in turn, increase productivity and keep construction costs down. With fewer workplace inspections and investigations by OSHA compliance safety and health officers, employers who do not comply with strict industry standards, thus creating dangerous environments for their workers, may not be discovered and dealt with accordingly.
As of right now, no hearing has been scheduled to consider the Labor Department budget; more information to follow.