Safety and OSHA News

OSHA’s budget request shows its priorities for upcoming year

OSHA says it wants to modernize its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and other chemical standards, and wants a bump in its budget to do so. 

Overall, OSHA is requesting a $595 million budget for FY 2017 which would be a 7.6% increase over its 2016 budget of almost $553 million. (FY 2017 starts Oct. 1, 2016.) The agency’s budget had a zero increase from 2015 to 2016.

It’s also requested an additional 100 full-time-equivalent employees, an increase of 4.6%, to bring its total workforce to 2,276 FTE.

OSHA wants an additional $5.1 million and 23 FTE to implement President Obama’s Executive Order, “Improving Chemical Safety and Security,” to prevent devastating incidents like the explosion at the West Fertilizer plant in Texas that killed 15 people. Of the total request for these improvements, $2.45 million would be allocated to “modernize OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard and other chemical-related standards.” The remaining $2.7 million would be used to hire compliance officers to perform PSM inspections of chemical facilities.

The FY 2017 budget request also includes a proposal to allow targeted inspections of small facilities that may have potential for catastrophic incidents, including those covered under the PSM standard. OSHA has removed the so-called “retail exemption” for some of these smaller facilities like West Fertilizer, but the agency was banned from inspecting the smaller establishments because of language included in the FY 2016 federal budget.

OSHA’s other requests for program increases:

  • $6.7 million and 40 FTE for Rapid Response investigations to manage the workload resulting from the enhanced reporting requirements in the 2014 revisions to the Recordkeeping Standard which require employers to report work-related hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye.
  • $3.4 million and 22 FTE to strengthen the program that looks into whistleblower complaints
  • $1.5 million and 10 FTE to restore 10 compliance assistance specialists that were cut in the FY 2015 budget to provide outreach to employers and employees about various OSHA initiatives
  • $5.4 million and 5 FTE for IT enhancements to replace older IT systems and modernize injury and illness tracking.

MSHA has requested a $397 million budget for FY 2017. The request supports implementation of a final rule on respirable coal dust exposure and strengthens targeted enforcement on employers with the most serious mining safety problems.

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