By Benjamin D. BriggsJames L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA’s enforcement budget increase to drive increase in 2021 inspections. 

The OSHA FY 2021 Congressional Budget Justification shows that in FY 2020 OSHA will receive an additional $12.7 million in funding that it will use to increase its Compliance Safety and Health Officer ranks by fifty from current staffing levels.  Notwithstanding the added staff the agency will add in the second half of 2020, OSHA anticipates a modest and temporary decrease in the number of FY 2020 inspections as compared with FY 2019 numbers, and   attributes the decrease to the process of onboarding and training compliance personnel before they can conduct inspections independently.

The anticipated decrease in inspection activity will be short-lived.  With the additional inspectors, the agency anticipates an additional 500 inspections will be conducted in FY 2021.  This reflects an anticipated increase FY 2021 inspections to 33,793 with a focus to the highest-impact and most complex inspections at the highest-risk workplaces.  Inspections of construction sites are expected to make up roughly 52% of all inspections.  In carrying out these inspections, OSHA will continue its focus on fall hazards and trenching operations.

In addition, in FY 2021, OSHA plans to continue the Site Specific Targeting (SST) inspections. The third year of SST inspections will target non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees and is based on the injury and illness information employers submitted to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application. OSHA will also “continue to focus on national and local emphasis programs that direct resources to industries with hazards that lead to severe injuries, illnesses, or death while balancing the requirement to respond to unprogrammed activity.”

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Environmental Team.