Will OSHA conduct more inspections in federal Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013)? Will there be new regulations? And how does the agency plan to fund compliance assistance to companies? President Obama’s budget proposal shows what’s ahead.
The overall budget for OSHA would remain almost the same at $565 million, only a 0.12% increase over this year’s funding.
However, there’s some significant shifting of funds proposed.
The FY 2013 proposed budget includes a 23.5% increase, including 37 new employees, for the 21 whistleblower protection programs administered by OSHA.
The increase is to reduce the backlog of whistleblower claims and prepare for a high volume of complex cases with recently passed laws involving health care reform, food safety and finance reform. The current administration, compared to the previous one, has also done more to encourage workers to come forward with whistleblower complaints.
Another significant increase (+5%) would go to standard development. OSHA says it will continue to develop its proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard which would require companies to develop and implement comprehensive safety plans to find and fix hazards.
In FY 2013, OSHA projects it will issue four final rules: Walking and Working Surfaces, Modernization of Recordkeeping and two consensus standard updates. Work also continues on standards for combustible dust and beryllium. Those two standards aren’t expected in 2013.
Funds for federal enforcement programs remain basically flat with just a small decrease. Despite that, OSHA intends to increase the number of federal inspections slightly. Inspections in FY 2012 (ending Sept. 30) are projected to be up 4% over the previous year. OSHA plans 43,100 inspections in FY 2013, a 2% increase over 2012. In FY 2011, federal OSHA conducted 40,648 inspections.
Federal funds going to the 27 state OSHA programs would also remain unchanged.
Federal compliance assistance funds would drop 4.2% under the proposal. OSHA will no longer offer its Corporate and Merit Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) to new sites starting in FY 2013.The VPP Star program would continue with OSHA adding 60 new sites, a decrease from 100 new facilities in 2012.
VPP Corporate extended the program across a large scale for bigger corporations. VPP Merit was designed for employers that have demonstrated the potential and commitment to achieve Star status but that need to further improve their safety and health management system and/or injury and illness performance. OSHA gives a Merit Program participant specified Merit goals that it must meet in order to achieve Star status and continue within VPP.
The decrease in funding for assistance programs comes as no surprise. The current administration has said it wants to continue with a balance of enforcement and assistance programs, but the emphasis has been greater on enforcement.
One assistance program would maintain its current funding. The On-site Consultation Programs administered at the state level would receive the same funding in FY 2013 as they are this year.
Of course, this just reflects the Obama administration’s request for 2013 funding. The president’s entire proposed budget must receive Congressional approval. These plans would also be likely to change if the president is not reelected.
To sum it up, funds for whistleblower programs would go up, enforcement funding would stay the same but there would be 2% more inspections, and some compliance assistance funding would be cut. What do you think of this proposal? Let us know in the comments box below.