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March 07, 2016
OSHA requests budget increase of $42 million for FY 2017
By Emily Scace, Senior Editor, Safety

OSHA’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2017 includes a $42 million increase over 2016 levels and 100 additional full-time staff. Keep reading to learn how OSHA plans to use the additional funding and what it could mean for your facility.

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The largest share of the requested increase—nearly $18 million and 60 full-time staff members—would be dedicated to federal enforcement efforts. Of that amount, OSHA says $6.7 million would support the agency’s enforcement response to reported fatalities, inpatient hospitalizations, and amputations, which have increased since new reporting rules took effect in January 2015. OSHA plans to continue using the Rapid Response Investigation (RRI) protocol to prioritize enforcement resources for these cases.

The agency expects to conduct 35,352 inspections in 2017 and plans to continue its recent emphasis on more complex inspections such as process safety management (PSM) inspections and musculoskeletal disorder inspections.

Also in the enforcement category, $2.7 million would be earmarked for enforcement activities surrounding Executive Order (EO) 13650, which directed OSHA and other agencies to take steps to improve chemical safety following the West, Texas, fertilizer facility explosion in 2013. As a part of this initiative, the budget request includes a proposed amendment to OSHA’s appropriation language to allow targeted inspections of small establishments with PSM-covered processes that may have potential for catastrophic incidents. The current appropriations language limits OSHA’s ability to conduct inspections of businesses with 10 or fewer employees in industry codes that have lower-than-average injury and illness rates

OSHA is requesting $23 million for safety and health standards, representing a $3.1 million increase over FY 2016 levels. The agency continues to focus on finalizing its proposed rule to reduce worker exposure to crystalline silica. Other rulemaking priorities include walking and working surfaces, improved tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses (i.e., electronic recordkeeping), exposure to beryllium, modernizing permissible exposure limits (PELs), and updating the PSM standard.

Here are the remaining highlights of the budget request:

  • $3.4 million of the requested increase would support whistleblower protection efforts, including additional investigators and other staff to respond to the increasing volume of new cases.
  • A $3.5 million increase in funding for state programs is intended to allow state plan states to enhance whistleblower protection programs and run enforcement programs that are as effective as federal OSHA enforcement.
  • $4.4 million in additional federal compliance assistance funding would allow OSHA to restore 10 positions in order to provide training, assistance, and outreach about OSHA programs and initiatives.
  • A $2 million increase in state compliance assistance funding would allow OSHA to restore minimum staffing levels for consultation projects, train consultants to perform PSM inspections, and support RRI investigations.
  • OSHA is requesting an increase of $5.8 million for its safety and health statistics activities. Of this amount, $1.5 million would support a new injury and illness tracking system.

The full budget justification can be found at http://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/documents/general/budget/CBJ-2017-V2-12.pdf.

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