OSHA inspections are expected to increase following comments from the head of the Department of Labor, pointing to a boost in spending on enforcement in the agency’s proposed budget.
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta told members of Congress that even though the overall budget for the fiscal year is flat, the dollars directed to enforcement will go up roughly $3.8 million and more inspectors are going to be hired.
As reported Safety and Health Magazine:
Acosta appeared before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for the first time since Democrats won the majority in the 2018 midterm elections and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) took over as chair.
He pointed out that OSHA inspections exceeded 32,000 in FYs 2017 and 2018 – surpassing the 31,948 total in FY 2016 – despite attrition of compliance safety and health officers at the agency. The number of CSHOs was a record-low 875 as of Jan. 1, according to a National Employment Law Project data brief published March 14.
“The DOL’s enforcement actions across the vast majority of its offices and agencies have increased in the past two fiscal years,” said human resources expert Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA.
OSHA inspections exceeded 32,000 in both 2017 and 2018, compared to 31,948 inspections in 2016. And, increased inspections could be the reason why workplaces have seen decreased accidents, with 40,000 fewer workplace incidents injuries and 43 fewer fatalities when comparing 2016 and 2017 numbers.
“In the 2016 fiscal year, OSHA conducted 31,948 inspections, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) recovered $352 million in enforcement actions,” Wilson said. “Comparatively, according to the most recent data, the EBSA recovered $1.1 billion in enforcement actions. Despite the increased action, DOL guidance on complying with rules and regulations has decreased.”
Wilson said employers “should be aware that the uptick of DOL enforcement actions will continue.”
“As such, they should take action to review and evaluate their compliance obligations to avoid costly fines and penalties,” Wilson said. “In particular, employers should review their OSHA obligations, as the DOL has communicated that inspections will continue to increase.”