Republicans Target Safety-Training Program for Workers in Dangerous Jobs
Trump plans to kill a program at the Occupational Training and Health Administration that funds safety training for people in dangerous, low-wage jobs—many of whom speak little to no English or can’t read.
Eliminating the Susan Harwood grants, the only OSHA program being killed in Trump’s proposed budget, would save $10.5 million, or 0.0002% of the overall budget. The grants have trained more than 2.1 million workers since 1978.
“The budget makes hard choices,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.
Acosta is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. today before a Senate panel on the budget.
The Harwood program is named after a former director of the Office of Risk Assessment at OSHA who died at 50 in 1996.
“We tried to address concerns of workers like day laborers, or non- or limited-English-speaking workers,” said Jordan Barab, the Labor Department’s former deputy assistant secretary of OSHA.
Grant recipients include the Migrant Clinicians Network which received $148,500 to train workers in agriculture and other areas and the Workers Defense Project in Austin, Texas, which received $144,000 to help train construction workers.
“This is a very dangerous industry,” said Jose Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project. “It’s absolutely imperative that everyone on the job site has that basic safety training.”
In 2015, 4,836 workers were killed on the job. Workers died at a rate of 3.4 per 100,000 workers, the same rate as 2014. OSHA has 1 inspector for every 76,402 workers or enough federal employees to inspect workplaces once every 159 years.
Extremist Republicans don’t like the grant program which they claim is “unproven.” Some of the funding for training goes to unions.
A 2015 report by UCLA found that low-wage workers who had received safety training were “significantly less likely to experience work-related injuries.”
The overall proposed OSHA budget is $543.3 million, down about 2% from its 2016 level of $552.8 million. Trump has not yet named an administrator for OSHA.