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CSB, Harwood Grants back on the chopping block in Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposal

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Washington — The Chemical Safety Board and OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program once again are slated for elimination in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, meanwhile, are in line for staffing increases and relatively stable budgets. At the Department of Health and Human Services, NIOSH is facing significant cuts, along with a shift to the National Institutes of Health from its current status as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That move is detailed in the Major Savings and Reform section of Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget, released Feb. 12.

Congress has the final say on the budget, and the makeup of that body could change after the midterm elections in early FY 2019, which begins Oct. 1. Additionally, the House Appropriation Committee will have a new chair, as Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is among the incumbents not seeking re-election.

The House, which allocated $11 million for CSB in FY 2018, passed all 12 of its appropriations bills Sept. 14, but the Senate has not followed suit. The federal government is operating on its fifth continuing resolution in FY 2018, with the current one set to expire March 23.

CSB touts its value in its budget justification, also released Feb. 12, and is asking for $12.1 million for FY 2019. “The resources developed by the CSB will be used nationwide to prevent the loss of life, injuries and damage to surrounding communities that result from these preventable chemical incidents,” the agency states.

The Trump administration wants to allocate $9 million for the independent agency to wind down operations. The budget proposal states that CSB is targeted for elimination because of the “relative duplicative nature of [the agency’s] work, and the administration’s focus on streamlining functions across the federal government.”

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, had FY 2018 backing from the Senate but not the House. In its budget request released Feb. 12, the Department of Labor states its intent to use the roughly $10.5 million from eliminating the grants “to maximize flexibility and use alternative methods to develop and distribute training materials to reach the broadest possible audience.”

Overall, the Trump administration is seeking $10.9 billion in discretionary funding for DOL, which currently is operating on a $12 billion budget.

OSHA’s proposed budget is about $549 million, identical to its current one, with an increase of 71 full-time equivalent workers. DOL is seeking to provide 42 new FTE employees to bolster OSHA’s corps of compliance safety and health officers, and 32 FTEs for areas such as compliance assistance, outreach and the Voluntary Protection Programs.

MSHA is slated for a budget increase of about $4.6 million – to $375.9 million – and 12 new FTEs.

The Trump administration is proposing to cut $135 million from NIOSH’s $335 million FY 2017 budget and eliminate its Education and Research Centers. It also would end “direct federal funding to support academic salaries, stipends, and tuition and fee reimbursements for occupational health professionals at universities.”

The budget blueprint states that “some activities conducted by NIOSH could be more effectively conducted by the private sector,” citing ergonomic equipment research as an example.

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