If Congress fails to reach a deficit reduction deal by the end of the month, automatic across-the-board spending cuts – known as sequestration – will go into effect. According to an Office of Management and Budget report (.pdf file) issued in September, the cuts will impact the following regulatory departments:
- OSHA – $46 million cut
- Mine Safety and Health Administration – $31 million cut
- Chemical Safety Board – $1 million cut
- Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission – $1 million cut
- Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission – $1 million cut
The cuts, which amount to an 8.2 percent reduction, affect the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30.
In preparation for the sequester, Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris warned department staff in a Feb. 20 memo (.pdf file) that despite tightening the belt on travel expenses and performance awards, some agencies will be forced to place staff on unpaid furloughs.
“I have to be candid. We are in for some difficult times,” Harris said. In a Feb. 8 statement, the White House warned that the sequester could result in pulling OSHA inspectors off the job, leading to about 1,200 fewer inspections. This would “leave workers unprotected and could lead to an increase in worker fatality and injury rates,” according to the statement.
If Congress and the president cannot reach an agreement by the end of the month, the budget cuts become effective March 1.
The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.