Department of Labor emphasizing workplace safety

The first Department of Labor budget under the Obama administration places heavy emphasis on workplace safety enforcement and other worker protections.

The agency will be asking Congress for $1.7 billion in funding for programs designed to ensure that employees are kept safe on the job and are paid all the wages and benefits they are due. The request represents a 10 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would receive a $51 million increase in funding and hire 160 new officers. The Wage and Hour Division would get a $35 million budget increase and add 200 investigators.

In a Web video accompanying the release of the budget, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that cracking down on workplace violations “is a very important part of my vision.”

Overall, 670 people will be added to the enforcement staff, which Solis said will bring it to a level it has not reached since 2001.

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