Adequate training is an essential element of worker safety on New York construction sites, and it often requires financial support from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. However, OSHA’s funding relies on the budget of the Department of Labor, which may shrink under upcoming federal budget proposals, placing such training programs in jeopardy.
The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program provides funding to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to support the development of industry-based safety training, particularly for workers in hazardous sectors. Industrial Distribution reports that as of March of this year, the $11 million that is allocated the Harwood grant program was on course to be slashed.
The Harwood grants have been a controversial topic in the federal government for several years. Opponents do not consider the program to be terribly effective and in some cases have argued that it detracts from OSHA’s true purpose. Proponents, including grant recipients, have noted that it both protects vulnerable employees and targets niche markets. These objectives currently are not fulfilled by other training programs.
It is worth noting that for fiscal year 2017, OSHA’s funding appears to be stable. According to the Safety and Health Magazine, the Consolidated Appropriations Act left OSHA with a budget of $552.8 million, which encompassed both increased funding for compliance assistance and decreased funding for health and safety statistics and standards development. This stability may not last, however, because OSHA will face steep financial cuts if the proposal to slash the budget for the Department of Labor is approved for 2018.