OSHA Budget Briefing for Journalists
February 6, 2006
GOOD AFTERNOON, and thank-you for joining me to take a closer look at OSHA's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007.
As Secretary Chao noted in her briefing, the President's budget for the Department of Labor provides the resources the Department needs to carry out its mission. OSHA's budget reflects and supports this position.
Therefore, I'm pleased to announce that the President has proposed an $11.2 million increase in OSHA's budget, for a total of $483.7 million for the next fiscal year.
This budget will enable us to maintain our services, upgrade our data management, augment our ability to target high-risk areas, and expand our outreach to key communities who need our attention — including Hispanic and non-English-speaking workers.
Our goal is to continue improving our efforts to help employers and employees reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities on the job.
The FY '07 proposal reflects the largest budget in OSHA's 35-year history. OSHA's budgets have steadily increased in this Administration, ensuring that we have the resources to do our job.
At OSHA we take a balanced approach to workplace safety and health to help protect American workers. This includes:
- Strong, fair and effective enforcement
- Outreach, education and compliance assistance
- Cooperative and voluntary programs
Our strategies are working: Over the past decade, workplace injuries and illnesses have fallen 40 percent, and the U.S. on-the-job fatality rate has hit historic lows for the past three years. We're making progress, but we know we can do better. That's why our staff across the nation goes to work every day looking for ways to improve workplace safety and health. At the end of the day, we want to see everyone return home safe and whole, and we're conscious that every dollar we spend needs to be devoted to that goal.
The President's proposed FY '07 budget reflects a measured effort to allocate resources where they will do the most good, and to help OSHA maintain its balanced approach.
I'm especially pleased to point out that the President's request allows OSHA to maintain its 2,173 full-time-employee level for the coming year.
The proposed budget provides dollar increases necessary to support OSHA's current staff and highly effective activities while providing increases for two major initiatives:
- compliance assistance for workplace safety and health,
- and support for a new information system to enhance OSHA's mission.
Let's take a closer look at what this budget does:
First of all, the budget allows OSHA to maintain a strong, fair and effective enforcement program. Enforcement is the largest component in our budget. We're projecting 37,700 inspections in FY '07, the same goal we set in FY '06.
OSHA's Site Specific Targeting program has proven to be an effective enforcement tool by directing our resources to workplaces with the highest injury and illness rates. In recent years we've added our Enhanced Enforcement Program, which focuses on employers who repeatedly ignore their safety and health obligations; and our Special Emphasis Programs which focus on specific safety and health issues.
This targeted approach to enforcement allows OSHA to make the most efficient and effective use of our resources.
Let's take a quick look now at the other components of our balanced approach:
Under Secretary Chao's leadership, the Department of Labor has devoted increased attention and resources to compliance assistance and outreach. They complement our enforcement programs in important ways:
OSHA supports a variety of cooperative programs, training and outreach to provide compliance assistance to employers and employees — particularly small businesses. Through Voluntary Protection Programs, Strategic Partnerships, and the SHARP program, OSHA works with employers to improve workplace safety and health, and to help reduce workplace injuries and fatalities.
Let's now talk about the two initiatives where the proposed FY2007 budget provides increases:
This budget includes a program increase of $2.6 million to expand outreach to Hispanic and non-English-speaking workers, as well as to workers involved in cleanup and recovery operations along the U.S. Gulf coast.
OSHA will step up its outreach efforts to address Hispanic and non-English-speaking workers by translating more of our materials into other languages, especially Spanish.
We intend to create materials and compliance assistance information that employers can use to communicate safety and health issues to employees at differing levels of literacy. These materials and services will address employer responsibilities and worker rights, workplace hazards, and safety and health precautions.
The President's request also calls for an increase of $7.5 million to support the development of a new information system to replace the agency's 15-year old Integrated Management Information System. This is a critically needed, multi-year effort to overhaul and upgrade the entire data system that OSHA uses to track its inspections and program activities.
The new information system will assure OSHA's ability to measure results and provide accurate and timely information on all our enforcement and compliance assistance programs. When completed, the Occupational Safety and Health Information System — what we will be calling the "OIS" — will give OSHA new, powerful analytical tools to help identify injury, illness and fatality trends at local and national levels. This will improve our efficiency and allow OSHA to allocate its resources for outreach, compliance assistance and enforcement more effectively than ever before.
To fund the initiatives we've discussed — support for the new OIS and increased compliance assistance — the President has proposed discontinuing the Susan Harwood training grants. Funding these two high-priority initiatives is critical, and we're confident that this decision will not compromise the high-quality training and assistance that OSHA provides employers and workers through our many other programs.
All these efforts at fine-tuning our balanced approach to worker safety and health will allow us to use our resources wisely and effectively.
In the three and a half decades since OSHA first opened its doors for this nation's workers, U.S. employment has more than doubled to 115 million workers at 7.2 million worksites. Yet even with those substantial increases in the American workforce, we have seen significant reductions in injuries and illnesses. Also significant: Fatal workplace injuries are among the lowest annual totals ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We believe that the proposed Fiscal Year 2007 funding gives OSHA the resources it needs to continue to fulfill its 35-year-old mission to help protect America's workers.