There has been a lot of talk about the sequestration and across the board budget cuts. OSHA is not exempt from the March 1st mandate. In fact, OSHA is directed to cut it’s $564.8 million budget by 8.2 percent. Safety advocates estimate OSHA will conduct 2,100 fewer inspections this year to comply with terms of the sequester. What do the $46 million in budget cuts mean for your business? It means being more compliant than ever.
Inspectors will not be the only personnel placed on furlough. Administrative personnel will be over tasked as well. This means any Variances or Defenses you file will be delayed. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis wrote: "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will protect its highest priority activities but still roughly 1,200 fewer programmed inspections of the most dangerous workplaces will occur. This reduction could lead to an increase in worker fatalities and injuries. States, which enforce the law in over half of the states, will also have to furlough inspectors, and an even larger reduction in the number of inspections in State Plan States is expected."
Some labor advocates are calling on agency chief Davis Michaels to forgo the possible furloughs and decreased inspections by trimming the voluntary protection program. “VPP will continue,” said Michaels. “I want the VPP program to thrive, and we have every intention to continue to ensure that the VPP program includes the best of the best. It's a very special program. It's the employers we like to point to and say, 'They're doing it right. Follow their lead.' And that will continue.”
OSHA and the White House have reached a tentative reprogramming plan pending approval by Congress. Under the plan, OSHA would institute austerity measures including an agency-wide hiring freeze; freezing all performance bonuses and other monetary awards indefinitely; eliminating non-mission critical travel, such as that for meetings and conferences; focusing on core training; and eliminating or reducing non-mission critical contracts. Michaels says, “I am pleased to say that by reprogramming funds we have been able to identify sufficient reductions -- while still being able to support our priorities and mission -- to take the required budget reductions without furloughing OSHA staff.”
Whether Congress approves the reprogramming plan remains to be seen. What have not changed are the regulations you are required to conform with. Do not allow federal budget cuts to relax your safety standards.
Need more information on these cuts and how it may affect your business? If so, contact Emilcott for any questions or concerns.