OSHA’s FY 2019 budget request reflects an emphasis on compliance assistance, an increase in enforcement and the elimination of a longstanding safety and health training grant program – a move sure to draw the hire of some in the occupational safety community.

The agency says its request for $549,033,000 for FY 2019 will allow it beef up its VPP initiative and restore 24 of the 33 compliance assistance positions that were lost in a five-year-long budget crunch. The seven percent increase in funding for compliance assistance efforts (over FY 2018 levels) would also go toward programs that help small businesses, information dissemination, the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), strategic partnerships and alliances, and training and outreach through the OSHA Training Institute.

Top priorities for outreach and cooperative efforts will be: construction, health care, oil and gas, communication tower erection and maintenance, grain handling, and temporary workers.

In its budget justification, OSHA says its enforcement and inspection efforts will focus on high risk workplaces and industries, such as trenching and excavation hazards in construction. The agency expects to conduct 30,840 inspections in 2018.

A loser in the budget: the Susan Harwood Training Grant program, which has provided grants to nonprofit organizations to develop and conduct occupational safety and health training programs since 1978. In its justification for not repeating the $10.5 million funding the program received in 2018, OSHA said it has no evidence that it is effective, and that training delivered directly by OSHA can achieve the same goals as the Harwood program.

The funding levels for safety and health standards, whistleblower programs, state programs, state consultation, and safety and health statistics would stay the same, while both technical support and executive direction would see decreases from 2018 levels, by $537,000 and $266,000, respectively.