An already hampered OSHA may feel an additional squeeze if Washington fiscal battles get too extreme. And is usually the case, the American worker could ultimately be the one who bears the brunt of such deliberations.
In a development reported on EHSToday, the government watch-dog group, the Center for Effective Government, asserts that possible further cuts will severely hamper the ability of the agency to do their job, aka protecting the safety of American workers.
In its report, “What’s at stake: Austerity Budgets Threaten Worker Health and Safety”, the group predicts that President Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget will include a 4 percent drop in OSHA funding from the 2013 amounts.
Senior fiscal policy analyst and report author Nick Schwellenbach said, “While OSHA is trying to mitigate the immediate impact of budget cuts, Washington’s continued obsession with deficits will cause OSHA to be less effective in protecting workers.”
According to the group, OSHA had been spared the more drastic cuts handed down to other agencies but resources and funding still haven’t kept pace with the growth of the economy.
Coming at a time when the agency is feeling the workforce pinch due to employees reaching retirement age, the cuts could have a direct impact on issues such as training, outreach and travel as well as investigating retaliation against workers who report health and safety violations.
The time frame for such investigations have a statutory deadline of 90 days but currently can take as long as 286 days to conclude.
The report stresses that each OSHA inspector is responsible for overseeing the health and safety of 62,000 workers and 4,300 workplaces. It goes on to say that, “OSHA had fewer health and safety compliance inspections staff in 2011 than in 1981- the first year of the Reagan Administration-even though the number of workplaces doubled to 9 million from 4.5 million establishments, and the number of workers rose to 129.4 million from 73.4 million.”
In 2012, there were 4,383 worker fatalities in the US. You’d think that would make OSHA funding a priority but it seems that the main thing on the minds of those in Washington is the repeal of Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. It’s like I said; the American worker will ultimately be the one who suffers.
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