- For 2023, Congressional lawmakers should approve a $100 million increase in OSHA funding, along with additional increases for federal workplace safety enforcement agencies, the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health and Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health said in a June 30 letter to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
- Advocates said workers faced “ever greater threats'' to their health and well-being, including exposure to COVID-19 and extreme heat. The letter cited an AFL-CIO report noting that OSHA’s current head count of some 755 federal inspectors is near the lowest it has had in more than 50 years.
- Earlier this year, Congress allotted OSHA a 2022 budget of some $612 million. This represented an increase of roughly $20 million from OSHA’s 2021 fiscal year budget of about $591.8 million, but it was lower than the $73 million increase initially proposed by the Biden administration.
More than a year since President Joe Biden took office, NCOSH has pushed for greater enforcement of workplace safety laws. In 2021, NCOSH leaders criticized OSHA for failing to keep workers safe during the pandemic. In its June letter, the organization also cited a “lack of consistent and aggressive enforcement of existing safety laws” that could prevent hazards such as falls and trench collapses.
The Biden administration has, in part, blamed staffing shortages for weak enforcement. In July 2021 testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said that DOL’s worker protection agencies, OSHA included, had lost 14% of their staff over the previous four years.
Meanwhile, employers continue to await the possibility that OSHA may return to issuing standards with respect to COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. The agency had published an emergency temporary standard requiring large employers to implement COVID-19 vaccination mandates, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a stay against the ETS in January.
Still, the agency has continued enforcement activities in other areas. In March, DOL announced that OSHA had begun inspecting hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities with COVID-19 patients to evaluate facilities’ preparedness for future coronavirus variants.