President Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal proffers a $2.4 billion, or 19.8 percent, cut to the Department of Labor’s annual budget, but the budgets of the two major U.S. workplace safety agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), would only experience relatively small changes under the proposed budget.
In its FY 2018 budget proposal, the Trump Administration recommended $543.3M be set aside for OSHA, which represents around a 2 percent decrease from OSHA’s FY 2017 funding level of $552M. The only OSHA program the Administration proposed eliminating is the Susan Harwood Training Grants, which provides grant awards to non-profit organizations to provide training and education to workers on safety and health hazards in the workplace. This program, which since 1978 has trained over 2.1 million workers, received $10.5M in federal funding last year.
The FY 2018 budget proposal allocates $375.2M for MSHA, $1.4M above the funding level MSHA received in FY 2017. MSHA’s Congressional Budget Justification “recognizes that coal production has declined and has taken appropriate action to respond to that decline” while simultaneously “MSHA anticipates an increase in metal and nonmetal mining due to infrastructure revitalization.” Accordingly, the budget proposal shifts about $3M from coal to metal/nonmetal enforcement.
Other safety agencies outside of the Department of Labor have not fared as well under the proposed budget. For instance, the FY 2018 budget proposes eliminating funding to the Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency tasked with investigating industrial chemical accidents. A companion document to the budget proposal, Major Savings and Reforms, states that “While [the Board] has done some outstanding work on its investigations, more often than not, its overlap with other agency investigative authorities has generated unhelpful friction.” The Center for Disease Control’s FY 2018 Budget Request reduces funding to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) by $138.5M, and notes that while NIOSH “will continue to conduct research to reduce worker illness and injury, and to advance worker well-being... [i]n FY 2018, the research program will not continue to fund state and academic partners for conducting, translating, or evaluating research.”