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OSHA Enforcement Set to Increase

On April 3, 2019, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of President Trump and the Department of Labor. In addition to testifying, Acosta submitted a seventeen-page report outlining the Department of Labor’s plans for fiscal year 2020 and beyond. Acosta made a number of statements about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), its recent enforcement actions, and plans for the future.

Of most interest to employers in the construction industry are Acosta’s statements concerning OSHA’s enforcement plans for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. Acosta stated in his written report to the subcommittee that OSHA hired 76 new inspectors during 2018. He continued that these new inspectors would generally not be ready to conduct field inspections for one to three years. Further, Acosta informed the subcommittee that OSHA conducted 32,000 inspections in 2017 and 2018, an increase from the number of inspections performed in 2016. Taken together, these two statements show a clear intention by OSHA to ramp up inspection in 2019 and 2020.

In addition to additional OSHA inspectors, President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for OSHA is $557.5 million, an increase from the 2019 enacted budget, and proposes even more funding to hire an additional 30 Compliance Safety and Health Officers.

It is apparent from Acosta’s testimony and written report that the President and Department of Labor are committed to increasing enforcement this year and beyond. Employers should prepare for additional site inspections and an increase in number of penalties assessed for failure to abide by OSHA standards.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. Regulations and laws may vary depending on your location. Consult with a licensed attorney in your area if you wish to obtain legal advice and/or counsel for a particular legal issue.