How OSHA Plans To Spend Its Funding

A lot of debate will occur between this week’s announcement of President Obama’s proposed budget, including funding for OSHA, and the start of the new federal fiscal year on Oct. 1. Forget about that debate for now. Instead, take a look at what OSHA plans to do with its funding, especially if you own a small business.

Here’s a summary of some of OSHA’s plans, included in the budget proposal:

  • 25 additional employees for enforcement. OSHA says these 25 additional inspectors would “expand the agency’s enforcement presence.”
  • More inspections. OSHA estimates it will conduct 41,000 inspections from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012. That’s a 6.5% increase in the number of inspections conducted during fiscal 2010.
  • Smaller businesses targeted. OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting (SST) Program focuses inspections on businesses that report high injury rates. For the first time, SST will target businesses with 20 or more employees. Previously, the minimum number of employees was 40.
  • More publicity about ‘severe violators.’ OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP) will develop a website displaying the names of SVEP employers. As of the end of 2010, OSHA categorized 89 businesses as SVEP cases. An interesting note: 78% of the SVEP cases were small businesses with less than 100 employees.
  • New emphasis programs for inspections. Recordkeeping which focuses on employers that under-report injuries and illnesses. The Recordkeeping NEP also examines safety incentive programs that discourage workers from reporting injuries.
  • Increased corporate-wide settlements. OSHA plans to implement a new directive for its inspectors before 2012 on Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements (CSAs) for multi-site employers. CSAs address safety and health hazards that exist at more than one employer location. The new directive will emphasize using these agreements for smaller employers with more than one location.
  • States must meet federal standards. OSHA will issue comprehensive evaluations of all state OSHA plans again in FY 2012. OSHA wants to work with states to ensure their safety programs are equal to the federal one, particularly in enforcement.
  • OSHA inspectors broaden their reach. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is stepping up efforts to identify misclassification of employees as independent contractors. OSHA will train its inspectors to recognize where misclassification is occurring and to refer such situations to the proper DOL division for enforcement.

Note: Some of these initiatives are not entirely dependent on OSHA receiving the requested budgetary increase.