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OSHA is OK, NIOSH takes a big hit in Obama’s proposed budget

ERCs, AFF program among areas that lose funding

houseReactions to the budget proposed yesterday by President Obama have been swift and sharp, but they will probably prove to be sound and fury, signifying nothing, if Aaron Trippler’s predictions are accurate.

The Government Affairs Director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) doubts that the President’s proposed budget for FY14 will be passed, because Obama, Democrat legislators and Republican legislators all have different budgets in mind.

That may come as a relief to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), which is looking at a $53 million downgrade from this year’s budget.

Compliance gets cut

Overall, OSHA would receive $570.5 million. That figure would include a $5.9 million increase for whistleblowers, a $2 million decrese for compliance assistance. Everything else would remain “essentially the same,” said Trippler.

“Now, while not being entirely positive for OSHA as compared to FY13 final funding of around $565 million, it should be considered a positive that the agency received a small increase.  What is even more positive is the fact that the President recognized that the sequester cuts went way too far when it comes to protecting worker health.”

Trippler reported that the proposal does include VPP funding, although it’s unclear just how much that amount would be. The agency will likely approve fewer strategic partnerships and alliances in 2014.

The consolidation of regional offices is still under consideration. The language states:

“…in an effort to streamline agency operations, the budget request proposes a reorganization of OSHA’s regional structure and jurisdictional authority from its current operation of 10 Regional Offices (ROs) to seven. The reorganization will involve the consolidation of OSHA’s Regions 1 (Boston) and 2 (New York); Regions 7 (Kansas City) and 8 (Denver); and, Regions 9 (San Francisco) and 10 (Seattle). These consolidations are expected to result in a savings of $1,300,000 and three FTE.”

Bad news for NIOSH

Trippler called the President’s proposed budget “terrible news” for NIOSH. “The budget slashes $53 million from what was appropriated in 2013,” he said. “And the real bad news – the ERCs (Education and Resource Centers).”

With $272 million allotted for occupational safety and health programs in FY 2014, the budget continues targeted reductions to the ERCs and the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AFF) program within the National Occupational Research Agenda.

The AFF addresses hazards in agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, which are among the most dangerous industries for workers. (The American farmer is eight times more likely to die on the job than other workers.) The AFF works with farmers foresters and fishermen to improve vehicle safety, pesticide exposure, ‘smart clothing’ for loggers and vessel stability.

ERCs provide industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, and occupational safety training for many occupational safety and health professionals.

Trippler said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a Continuing Resolution put in place, at least for three to four months.

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