OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Agency Focus Remains Outreach and Enforcement
The Clinton Administration has requested a $426 million budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in fiscal year 2001, a $44.4 million increase -- or 11.6 percent more than the $381.6 million appropriated by Congress for the current fiscal year.
The increase, according to Charles N. Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, will enable OSHA to achieve better balance between its outreach activities, such as compliance assistance and training, and its enforcement activities, which in recent years have been targeted at high hazard worksites.
"The increase will improve our ability to provide expertise and services to both employers and employees," says Jeffress. "The President's budget request ensures that OSHA continues its 29-year history as a catalyst for improving workplace safety and health."
Workplace fatalities have been slashed 50 percent, and injuries and illnesses have been cut 40 percent since OSHA was created in 1971, while the number of people employed has increased 116 percent.
Expanded Outreach Through Compliance Assistance and Training
Under the President's proposal, OSHA will receive $67.1 million - a 23.9 percent increase - for expanded outreach activities, most of which is compliance assistance to businesses.
Nearly $3.4 million of the $12.9 million increase will be used to hire 35 additional compliance assistance specialists, achieving the agency's goal of staffing each Federal OSHA area office with one specialist whose sole job is to assist businesses that request help. Funds will also be used to develop training and outreach materials to help both employers and employees understand and comply with OSHA standards.
With the increase, OSHA will also be able to provide an additional 3,200 free consultation visits to small businesses, raising the annual total to 30,700. Under this program, small business owners in 46 states can get confidential help from safety and health experts without fear of citations or penalties. A business owner can request either a comprehensive inspection and advice about all safety and health problems uncovered, or limit a consultant's efforts to a single area.
More than $11 million -- including a $3 million increase -- is earmarked for the agency's Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, which enables nonprofit organizations to conduct safety and health training in the workplace. New grants will focus on entry-level, contingent and non-English speaking workers as well as the needs of small businesses.
In addition, about $750,000 will be used to hire 10 employees to work on-site with businesses to provide ergonomics assistance, including helping businesses establish voluntary ergonomics programs.
Under the President's proposal, OSHA will receive $153.1 million - an 8.6 percent increase - for enforcement activities.
Nearly half of the $12.1 million increase is earmarked to hire 63 compliance officers who will help conduct wall-to-wall inspections at industries and worksites with above average illness and injury rates. The typical site-specific inspection takes about 55 hours, compared to just 22 hours for an average OSHA inspection. The agency now employs about 1,079 inspectors.
The budget request also includes $300,000 and five new investigators to help OSHA handle its increased responsibilities for protecting workers who allege retaliation for raising safety and health issues at their worksites, or for blowing the whistle on environmental violations. OSHA assumed responsibility for seven environmental whistleblower statutes in 1997.
The FY2001 budget proposal includes $2 million to better equip the agency to enhance its standard development activities and to develop additional economic and scientific information on which standards are based.
Two major surveys will be conducted with the increased funds. The first, a national survey of current industry safe practices, will capture critical baseline industry data. The second project, the National Occupational Hazards Survey, a joint effort of OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, will gather critical data on high-risk workers. The data from both surveys will enable OSHA to develop more targeted regulatory actions.
The request also includes funding for additional economists to conduct the enhanced benefits assessments and economic analyses required by Congress when promulgating a standard.
Finally, the President's proposal requests an additional $3 million to help the 25 existing state-plan-states strengthen their enforcement and expand their partnerships with the private sector, and designate new Voluntary Protection Program sites. The VPP, which now has about 575 worksites participating, recognizes employers with model safety and health programs and low injury and illness rates.
The request also seeks $1.8 million to fund a state plan program for New Jersey's 500,000 public sector employees, who suffer occupational injuries and illnesses at a rate more than double that of their private sector counterparts. The increase will help New Jersey hire needed expertise to bring state government agencies into compliance with OSHA standards and state laws.
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