Adele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP
OSHA Funding Gets Significant Bump in House Bill
On July 29, 2021, the House of Representatives passed its FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations package, on a party line vote of 219-208, setting the stage for a showdown in the Senate – where action has been slow in developing a companion measure. The legislation sent over by the House includes $691.7 million in funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is $100 million above current levels and is $20 million above the White House budget request for the agency. The federal government’s FY 2021 ends on September 30, 2021, so passage is needed to avoid a government shutdown.
The House-passed bill includes a nearly $22 million increase in the enforcement budget for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which total appropriations for the mine safety agency set at $404.8 million. Unlike the hike for OSHA over the President’s request, MSHA’s House-approved funding is less than the White House’s $447.2 million proposal, but still represents more than the $379.8 million it received from Congress in FY 2021.
When the US Department of Labor submitted its FY 2022 budget to Congress, representing the Administration’s perspective, Secretary Walsh said the goal of increased funding was to “restore the department’s capacity to protect the health, safety, rights and financial security of all workers.” He noted that the funding increases for OSHA and MSHA will rebuild enforcement capacity, expand whistleblower programs, and increase outreach and compliance assistance.
Much of the funding is directed at hiring new inspectors – the number of OSHA “CSHOs” (Compliance Safety and Health Officers) is at the lowest level in 48 years. Currently, it would take over 160 years for federal OSHA to inspect all workplaces under its jurisdiction. Another emphasis area is whistleblower protection, which would see its funding rise by $11 million to $30 million for the coming year.
Other winners in the FY 2022 appropriations legislation include the state grants program, which would receive nearly $119 million, an increase over the FY 21 level of $110 million. The Susan Harwood training grants program, which had been targeted for elimination in the Trump Administration, also would receive $14.7 million, up from the current $11.7 million level.