An omnibus appropriations bill that would provide OSHA with more than $490 million for the next fiscal year is nearing final passage, but an added budget cut made by the Senate could reduce that figure significantly.
Aaron Trippler, government affairs director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), analyzed the appropriations bill and said that OSHA is slated to receive nearly $495 million, which includes $10.1 million for the Susan Hardwood Training Grants.
The figures mean that OSHA would receive $4 million more for FY 2008 than President George W. Bush had originally requested. As Trippler pointed out: “It looks like OSHA comes out even better than expected.” In November, Bush vetoed the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill, which originally designated $500.5 million to OSHA.
However, in a later email, Trippler stated that a House staffer informed him the Senate decided to add a “1.74 percent across-the-board cut on everything.” This means OSHA would actually receive a total of $486 million, which is less than the $487 million the agency received in 2007 and the $490 million the president requested.
“You would think they would have simply cut the budget figure instead of appropriating something and then taking some of it away,” Trippler stated.
In an interview with Occupational Hazards, Trippler contended that even with a budgeted $494,641,000 in OSHA's pocket, it still would not be enough for everything that is on the agency's plate.
“Even with the increase, it still isn't enough money,” he said. “They have been living on no money for the past 3 to 4 years, the amount they have been getting doesn't even cover inflation and so I don't think they have the resources to do things.”
According to Trippler, the appropriations bills also requires OSHA to report to Congress with timetables for standards development on beryllium, silica, cranes and derricks, confined space in construction and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling for Chemicals (GHS). In addition, Trippler said it appears the bill will remove the ban on OSHA to enforce respirator annual fit-testing for tuberculosis (TB). This has been an initiative AIHA has been working on, he stated.