The President's fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor, released Monday, provides an increase of OSHA funding by $15.7 million (3 percent), for a total of $501.7 million. OSHA will focus its enforcement and compliance assistance efforts on high-hazard industries, including those that employ large numbers of vulnerable non-English speaking workers, according to the DOL.

This marks the first time an OSHA proposed annual budget has surpassed $500 million, said OSHA chief Edwin Foulke, Jr. The agency projects it will conduct 37,700 inspections in FY09 and publish four to five proposed rules, according to Foulke. The budget calls for 2,165 full-time employees, up 47 from the current year, he said.

As part of the FY 2009 OSHA budget, President Bush has again proposed to remove training grants. However, in past years Congress has restored these grants in the final budget.

As for MSHA, it would be funded at $332 under the FY 2009 budget, including $7.4 million to support 55 additional metal/nonmetal enforcement personnel. MSHA’s budget is down slightly from the estimated $334 million it received this year.

NIOSH would get approximately $326 million under the President’s proposal, $110 million less than what the agency got in FY 2008. However, most of this cut comes in the World Trade Center Treatment and Screening fund, cut back $83 million from $108 to $25, according to Aaron K. Trippler of the Government Affairs Office of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

The President’s budget calls for a $376 million cut — 6 percent — from the current year's estimated spending for the Centers for Disease Control.

“Don’t expect this to be the final budget when all is said and done,” said Trippler. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Congress doesn’t even adopt a budget until the next President takes office.”

The federal government's fiscal 2009 will begin Oct. 1, 2008.

Detailed information on the President's 2009 Budget for the Labor Department can be found at http://www.dol.gov/_sec/budget2009/bib.htm.