Jordan Barab, the former OSHA official under Barack Obama who still champions worker safety on his personal blog, has gone through the 2019 budget proposal that the Trump Administration unveiled earlier this week, the one that aims to slash by $18 billion the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services .
While OSHA’s overall budget is not among the ones President Trump is proposing to cut, Barab is still concerned, writing that, like last year, Trump “once again proposes to slash or eliminate important safety and health programs and agencies .”
Per Barab, if approved, the 2019 budget proposal would eliminate the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program and the Chemical Safety Board. However, given how Congress reacted to proposed cuts of those programs last time around — as Barab put it, they “had about as much lift as a Butterball Turkey when the administration floated these ideas” in his 2018 budget — he isn’t too worried it will actually happen.
“There’s a saying that there’s no education from the second kick of a mule. With a little lobbying and common sense, we can only hope that the Trump administration will get to witness that phenomenon” with these proposed cuts, Barab wrote.
Additionally, the 2019 budget proposal looks to eliminate two advisory committees dealing with whistleblower protections and federal employee safety and health, Barab wrote. They would be the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health and the Whistleblower Protections Advisory Committee.
As far as OSHA’s overall budget is concerned, Barab said it would, if approved, remain “mostly level,” with a $5.1 million increase from 2017 in enforcement and a $3 million increase in compliance assistance, mostly, Barab wrote, “to add Compliance Assistance Specialists who had been cut in previous years due to budget limitations” plus “eight staff to work exclusively on the Voluntary Protection Programs.”
OSHA, in its budget justification, says it has set a goal of 30,840 inspections for 2019 , which is 5% less than the 2017 fiscal year, the most recent data available.
OSHA says it plans to focus on “the highest-impact and most complex inspections at the highest-risk workplaces.” One would think that list includes healthcare facilities. But in a recent article of our Medical Environment Update newsletter, Barab and industry safety experts expressed concern about how the loss of dozens of OSHA inspectors under Trump might affect healthcare workers .
We’ll circle back on this in greater detail, with original reporting on how it could affect you, in the event these cuts actually get pushed through this fall.