President Obama recently issued the Department of Labor’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2015.  As part of the budget request to Congress, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking a total budget of $565 million, which is an increase of $12.7 million from the enacted FY 2014 budget.

OSHA is also requesting an additional $3 million for federal enforcement of the health and safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as well as an additional $4 million and 27 FTEs to increase the resources needed to investigate and administer 22 whistleblower statutes under the Whistleblower Protection Programs. The budget also requests an additional $400,000 for the State Programs budget in order to fund the recently approved public employee State plan in Maine and an additional $3.5 million for the State Programs budget to ensure that the states have the resources to run programs that are as effective as OSHA’s Federal enforcement.

OSHA’s budget request for safety and health standards, technical support, and compliance assistant remain relatively flat with virtually no increase in funds.

In the FY 2015 budget, OSHA also includes two proposed amendments to its appropriation language: (1) a request to increase the amount that OSHA may retain from training institute course tuition and fees from $200,000 to $499,000 per fiscal year; and (2) a proposal to allow targeted inspections of small establishments that may have potential for catastrophic incidents (e.g., those subject to Process Safety Management or the EPA’s Risk Management Program).

Of particular note in the FY 2015 budget, OSHA asserts that the:

current appropriations language limits OSHA’s ability to conduct safety and health inspections of small businesses (10 or fewer employees) in industry codes that have lower-than-average workplace injury and illness rates.  Neither the number of workers in a company nor low injury and illness rates, however, is predictive of the potential for high-consequence catastrophic incidents, resulting in multiple casualties and extensive property damage that can damage whole communities.