The 2,505 full-time OSHA positions sought in the budget is 35% higher than fiscal year 2022 figures — which the text says reflect “actual” employment, as opposed to budgeted.
According to Stephen Boyd, the deputy regional administrator of OSHA’s Region 6, filling OSHA positions is difficult due to the lengthy bureaucratic hiring process, which often discourages workers from waiting for the position. Boyd noted that applicants will instead pursue other immediate employment opportunities, such as blue-collar work or manufacturing, if they have to wait three months for a response for a job that pays $40,000 a year. In the past year, more than 100 applicants turned down positions at OSHA in Boyd’s region. However, despite the need for a significant increase in employees to inspect job sites, it would take 236 years for inspectors to visit every workplace in the United States with current staffing levels from 2021.
The budget plan proposed by the Biden administration for the 2024 fiscal year includes an increase in the budget for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division by 26%, or $81 million, above 2023’s numbers. The Wage and Hour Division enforces worker protections, such as minimum wage or overtime laws and wage theft. In 2023, the Wage and Hour Division recovered over $32.9 million in back wages for over 17,000 construction employees, which was the most of any industry measured.
The administration is also seeking to add $40 million to the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs to promote fair treatment and equal employment for workers. This increase would result in a 36% budget increase and budgets for 125 more full-time employees than in 2023. The budgeting and staff would specifically support compliance assistance and oversight on large federal projects, such as those funded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS Act, and Inflation Reduction Act.
“This funding will allow OFCCP to build its capacity to remove systemic barriers that workers in underrepresented communities face to access good jobs in construction and other growth industries,” the proposal reads.