Workers’ Memorial Week 2017: President Trump’s Proposal to Defund Workers’ Safety Net

In Honor of Workers’ Memorial Week, each day this week Citizen Vox will discuss the need for safe jobs and call attention to the ways the Trump administration is dismantling key worker health and safety protections.

Recently, President Trump released his proposed “skinny budget” for Fiscal Year 2018. Even though he called it a skinny budget, it’s more like a starvation budget. His proposal would literally starve the government of the resources it needs, including those that protect workers and their communities from deadly hazards. For example, Trump has proposed eliminating 21% of the Labor Department’s budget.

So, which programs are on the chopping block? For starters, Trump’s proposal eliminates the Susan Harwood Training Grants Program which has provided workplace safety education and training to over 2.1 million workers since its inception. The program also comes with a relatively small price tag – only $11 million. Other items Trump hopes to cut include job training programs for seniors, youth, and people with disabilities. Trump has also proposed abolishing the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents like the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

The proposed cuts come at a time when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is already struggling to fulfill its congressionally mandated mission to protect workers. Even under current, inadequate funding and low staffing levels, it would take OSHA approximately 159 years to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction once, with one inspector for every 76,402 workers, according to the AFL-CIO. Alternatively, the International Labor Organization recommends that industrialized nations have one workplace inspector for every 10,000 workers.

Want to fight back against Trump’s proposal? Sign this petition from our allies at the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and tell Congress loud and clear: don’t cut job safety!

Emily Gardner is the worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. 

Keep up with Public Citizen’s work on these issues by following @SafeWorkers on Twitter.