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OSHA 2021 Outlook

OSHA 2021 Outlook

With a new administration entering the White House, 2021 could be very interesting for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Here are some key points of interest to contemplate.

1. OSHA Leader

Loren Sweatt, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, has been the acting Assistant Secretary of Labor since 2017. Biden selected Boston Mayor, Martin Walsh, as the new Assistant Secretary of Labor, but it has yet to be confirmed.

2. 2021 Budget

Item

2019 Enacted

2020 Enacted

2021 Requested

Safety and Health Standards

18,000,000

18,000,000

18,133,000

Federal Enforcement

209,000,000

221,711,000

223,848,000

Whistleblower Programs

17,500,000

18,564,000

20,231,000

State Programs

102,350,000

108,575,000

108,575,000

Technical Support

24,469,000

24,469,000

24,622,000

Compliance Assistance-Federal

73,481,000

73,481,000

75,410,000

Compliance Assistance-State Consultations

59,500,000

61,500,000

61,500,000

Compliance Assistance-Training Grants

10,357,000

11,537,000

0

Safety and Health Statistics

32,900,000

32,900,000

34,950,000

Executive Direction

9,496,000

9,496,000

9,544,000

Total Budget Authority

557,233,000

581,233,000

576,813,000

Total FTE

1,808

1,884

1,896

The FY 2021 Budget provides $576,813,000 and 1,896 direct FTE for OSHA to maintain a robust enforcement program, and includes program increases totaling $3,919,000 and 12 FTE. Specifically, the FY 2021 budget includes additional staff resources, including a program increase of $1,460,000 and 10 FTE to hire whistleblower investigators.

The FY 2021 budget request also includes an increase in federal compliance assistance of $459,000 and 2 FTE to hire additional instructors and support additional compliance officers and whistleblower training.

3. 2021 Focus

With the administration change there are no definitive items. However, here are some items that are somewhat expected or being talked about:

COVID-19

It is very likely that under Biden, OSHA will release at least an emergency temporary COVID-19 standard. This is something labor unions have been pushing for and Biden has been very vocal about taking care of this pandemic.

Standards

Here is OSHA’s current list of active rules and the stages they are currently in.

Pre-rule Stage

Emergency Response

1218-AC91

Pre-rule Stage

Mechanical Power Presses Update

1218-AC98

Pre-rule Stage

Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance

1218-AD08

Pre-rule Stage

Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal

1218-AD10

Proposed Rule Stage

Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard

1218-AC81

Proposed Rule Stage

Communication Tower Safety

1218-AC90

Proposed Rule Stage

Update to the Hazard Communication Standard

1218-AC93

Proposed Rule Stage

Powered Industrial Trucks

1218-AC99

Proposed Rule Stage

Lock-Out/Tag-Out Update

1218-AD00

Proposed Rule Stage

Tree Care Standard

1218-AD04

Proposed Rule Stage

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica; Revisions to Table 1 in the Standard for Construction

1218-AD18

Proposed Rule Stage

Welding in Construction Confined Spaces

1218-AD23

Proposed Rule Stage

Drug Testing Program and Safety Incentives Rule

1218-AD24

Proposed Rule Stage

Personal Protective Equipment in Construction

1218-AD25

Proposed Rule Stage

Powered Industrial Trucks Design Standard Update

1218-AD26

Proposed Rule Stage

Walking Working Surfaces

1218-AD28

Proposed Rule Stage

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica: Revisions to Medical Surveillance Provisions for Medical Removal Protection

1218-AD31

Proposed Rule Stage

Mechanical Power Presses 29 CFR 1910.217

1218-AD34

Final Rule Stage

Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Taxpayer First Act

1218-AD27

Final Rule Stage

Procedures for Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Whistleblower Protection Statutes

1218-AD30

Final Rule Stage

Discrimination Against Employees Exercising Rights Under the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

1218-AD35

Enforcement

Under the Biden administration, it is expected that OSHA will get much tougher on enforcement to protect workers. This could include more inspections, citations and urging whistleblowers to report violations. Also, a return of aggressive reporting/publicizing of companies that are found to be in violation of the OSHA Standards.

Final Thoughts

2021 will be interesting with many variables that will unfold with the new administration. We all look forward to the end of the COVID-19 devastation of 2020 and a return to a so-called normal. May all our lives improve in 2021.

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