Workplace safety remains priority in time of budget cuts, Solis says

Washington – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said that although cuts can be made to her department’s budget, continued investment in workplace safety should not be shorted.

The Department of Labor’s 2012 budget request (.pdf file) cuts 5 percent from the fiscal year 2010 budget, but did not reduce funding for workplace protection programs and agencies such as OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Those two agencies received funding increases in the request.

During a May 4 hearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Solis testified that those funding increases will provide the regulatory staff and resources necessary to ensure all employers provide a safe workplace, and will expand compliance assistance programs. Additional funds were necessary to expand a whistleblower protection program and reduce the backlog of contested MSHA citations, she said.

Rep. Richard Shelby (R-AL) suggested the 5 percent budget cut to DOL is not enough, and said the department’s regulatory reach has “greatly expanded” and new regulations repress economic growth. He called for a joint effort to reduce such burdens while maintaining workplace health and safety protections.

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