OSHAs $4 Million Increase in FY 2008 Funding to be Cut 1.74 Percent

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 $494,641,000, which includes $10,116,000 for the Susan Hardwood Training Grants.

The figures mean that OSHA would receive $4 million more for fiscal year 2008 than President George W. Bush had originally requested. Trippler even pointed out that “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.

OSHA Not Getting Enough $$$

In an interview with OccupationalHazards.com, Trippler contended that even with $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 3-4 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) for the hazard communication standard.

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.

The 1.74 percent would not only reduce OSHA’s budget, but MSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) budget as well. Trippler viewed MSHA as “the big winner” with the bill providing $339,862,000, compared to the $301.6 million allotted in 2007. Even with the 1.74 percent cut, MSHA would now receive approximately $334 million, which is still significantly more than what the agency received last year.

The amount NIOSH is slated to receive in 2008 remains unclear. NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) project, however, is expected to receive an appropriated amount of $94,969,000 for 2008, which is significantly more than the $87 million it received in 2007. With the 1.74 percent reduction, the project will still receive approximately $93 million.

“All in all, not a good day for occupational health and safety,” Trippler said.

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