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Department of Labor 2017 Budget Earmarks $1.27 Billion to Worker Protection Agencies

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget for the Department of Labor has something for just about everyone, including potentially more OSHA investigations, more whistleblower investigations and more wage and hour investigations for small, medium and large businesses and organizations.

According to the Department of Labor’s announcement, this year’s budget includes:

  • • $595 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  In particular, the budget provides resources to enhance safety and security at chemical facilities and improve response procedures when major incidents occur, following on the administration’s comprehensive review in the wake of the devastating incident or explosion at West, Texas. The budget also requests resources to provide compliance assistance for businesses that want help protecting their workers and funds to help OSHA improve enforcement of critical safety and health standards and the more than 20 whistleblower laws that protect workers from reprisal for reporting unlawful practices.
  • • $397 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to meet its statutory obligation to inspect every mine and help address risks posed to miners. The request supports implementation of a final rule on respirable coal dust exposure and strengthens targeted enforcement activities designed to focus attention on employers with the most serious safety problems.
  • • $277 million for the Wage and Hour Division to enforce laws that establish minimum standards for wages and working conditions. In particular, the budget supports efforts to thwart the illegal misclassification of some employees as independent contractors; a practice that deprives workers of basic protections like unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and overtime pay.

We believe employers should be prepared for increased labor and employment scrutiny in the months ahead.  We anticipate an increase in OSHA investigations, whistleblower investigations and wage and hour investigations.

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OSHA Inspections to Increase, Along with Severity of Fines