More money is being budgeted for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) with the new administration in place. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis took office in February and in early May, through a live online discussion, outlined President Barack Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2010 DOL budget plans.
"The budget reflects our effort to invest in what works and cut or reduce programs that do not. The budget is transparent, and we are accountable to the American public," said Secretary Solis.
What that means for OSHA and businesses across the country
Under the Labor Department's requested budget, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would receive $564 million, an increase of $51 million (10 percent) over the previous year. While this renewed focus on worker safety and regulatory enforcement is great for the agency, it means businesses better be prepared to meet higher compliance demands.
In fact, some of OSHA's 2010 goals are to:
- Hire 160 new enforcement staff, many of whom would be bilingual, allowing the agency to effectively communicate with the nation’s changing workplace demographic
- Continue targeting and providing outreach for establishments and industries that have above average injury, illness and fatality rates
- Continue developing and revising regulations and standards, as part of the agency’s regulatory agenda
According to DOL, this budget “builds on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), restoring worker protection programs; promoting an inclusive, green recovery; and ensuring accountability and transparency."
Companies throughout the United States should further evaluate their environmental, safety and health programs and find ways to improve, fill gaps and meet or exceed OSHA compliance standards, especially those in high hazard industries and those with above average injury, illness and fatality rates.