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OSHA's Emerging Funding for 2016

Congress is moving quickly finally pass an appropriations (funding) bill that would keep the federal government operating through fiscal year 2016 (next September). In that process, the funding for OSHA is coming to light. This is a quick post to provide some background on what appears to be emerging for OSHA's 2016 appropriations. Bottom line, the agency will keep the same funding level that it had for 2015. No fiscal changes. The Agency will have $553 million for its spending. The appropriations bill can be found at this LINK. (OSHA starts on page 869 if you want to torture yourself with legislative language).

Congress is permitted to insert language into an appropriations bill (appropriations is what actually 'funds' government agencies) which can block a specific agency from spending any funds on a particular effort ... such as a specific new regulation, enforcing a requirement, etc.. This is called a "rider". In short, is a mechanism Congress often uses to block an agency from pursuing a particular course of action on something. Although common in many appropriations bills, it's usually reserved for issues that have meaningful political support. Every year, there are some 5 or so riders tied to OSHA -- such as limiting blanket enforcement on family farms or small employers (fewer than 10 employees). If you click the appropriations bill link above, you'll see language saying ... "provided further, ....". Those are "riders" which are instructing OSHA to basically not do those things.

This year, there seems to be some confusion with the language applied to OSHA because the summary (LINK) on page 4 is not clearly written. Congress is effectively complaining about OSHA not following legal procedures when implementing new requirements related to 3 aspects of the Process Safety Management standard, but then Congress only seems to insert a rider on one of them three. It is curious. Nevertheless, as written, it seems like only the PSM Retail Exemption is going to be blocked by Congress (meaning OSHA will not be permitted to expend any time or resources to enforce the Retail Exemption of the PSM standard as it relates to the guidance document it released last summer (LINK).

If this stands as it appears to be the case as of now, OSHA's "budget" for next year will remain unchanged and the only regulatory action that it will be prohibited from advancing is the Retail Exemption enforcement guidance linked above until certain conditions are met.

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