By: Chris Pfeiffer; Team Manager of Horton Safety Consultants
The Biden Administration has requested to raise the budget of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to add more inspectors in 2023. The increased staffing will lead to an increased risk of OSHA inspections for several industries due to the sheer number of officers in the field.
This article will dive deeper into details regarding the proposed OSHA budget and discuss how companies can prepare accordingly.
Background on Proposed OSHA Budget
The Biden administration has requested $701 million for OSHA in the fiscal year of 2023. This is approximately $89 million more (an increase of 14.5 percent) than OSHA received in the fiscal year of 2022. OSHA is looking to use a portion of the money to hire 500 more full-time workers, including 179 new inspectors.
According to a Bloomberg Law report from November 2021, OSHA had an all-time low of 750 inspectors at the end of the fiscal year of 2021. But this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) is looking to hire 75 safety technicians, 63 support personnel in federal enforcement, 63 full-time equivalent workers for its whistleblower programs and 60 FTE workers to help with federal compliance assistance.
“One of OSHA’s key goals is to continue to rebuild the agency and ensure that OSHA is the national leader in workplace safety and health,” DOL stated in its budget request, as reported by Safety + Health Magazine. “This includes a focus on strengthening agency capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging hazards; address new and increased responsibilities; and respond to the needs of a changing workforce in terms of diversity, economics and geography.”
How Will This Impact Companies?
If the budget increases, funds could go to supporting National Emphasis Programs (NEPs). These are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries. Existing and potential new emphasis programs are evaluated using inspection data, injury and illness data, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports, peer-reviewed literature, analysis of inspection findings, and other available information sources.
If the proposed budget is approved, inspections will likely increase in the following areas:
- Combustible Dust
- Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Hazardous Machinery
- Hexavalent Chromium
- Primary Metal Industries
- Process Safety Management
- Silica, Crystalline
- Trenching and Excavation
Additionally, OSHA could add staff to strengthen their Whistleblower Protection Program. This program enforces the provisions of more than 20 federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns, among other issues. These concerns could be related to hazards or violations of various workplace safety and health, aviation safety, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Employees who believe that they have experienced retaliation in violation of one of these laws may file a complaint with OSHA. The addition of extra staff in this area makes the increase of surprise inspections even more likely.
How Can Horton Help You Prepare for Surprise OSHA Inspections?
Employers should focus on safety and health compliance, establishing a culture of safety where employees feel encouraged to report concerns to their employer without fear of retaliation or any sort of disciplinary action.
Many organizations (mostly small and medium-sized businesses) understand the need for a formal safety program but lack the size and resources necessary to support the employment of a full-time safety professional. However, Horton Safety Consultants provides all of the services a business needs to manage its safety and compliance risks while building a stronger culture of safety. They can jump and help businesses prepare for inspections.
Our safety consultants use tools to gauge the perception of the employees with regard to the safety program called a Safety Perception Survey. It is a 25-question, standardized assessment to reveal the culture of safety within any organization. After taking the survey, Horton Safety Consultants will analyze the results and meet with the client to discuss the strengths and weaknesses identified in the survey and help them develop a plan for improvement.
Finally, if your company undergoes a surprise last-minute OSHA inspection, one of Horton’s Safety Consultants can arrive on the scene to navigate the process, communicate with OSHA and help the inspection go as smoothly as possible. Our consultants understand the rights of employers and OSHA’s specific limitations during on-site inspections, so they are a good resource to consult in-person.
Are you prepared to handle this increase in OSHA inspections? Reach out to a member of Horton Safety Consultants here to schedule a consultation.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.