Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, on February 5 announced that President Bush has requested $490.3 million for OSHA in fiscal year 2008. The request represents an increase of nearly $18 million over the FY 2007 continuing resolution level and includes increases for federal enforcement and federal compliance assistance.

Foulke explained the increase will help the agency improve workplace safety and health through compliance assistance and enforcement of occupational safety and health regulations and standards.

 

“We are proposing to increase resources supporting the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) by more than $4.6 million,” Foulke said. “VPP recognizes exemplary work sites for their enhanced safety and health performance. This translates into substantial benefits for both employers and employees, including significant reductions in injury and illness rates which have proven to deliver millions of dollars in cost savings for participants.”

Since 2001, OSHA has implemented a balanced approach consisting of aggressive enforcement, cooperative programs, outreach, education and compliance assistance which has yielded a 19 percent reduction in occupational illness and injury rates. During this same period, the overall fatality rate has declined by 7 percent and it has fallen by 18 percent among Hispanic employees.

More than $17 million will go to increasing resources allocated to the federal enforcement, federal compliance assistance and cooperative programs. OSHA has planned 37,700 workplace inspections throughout the year and will continue to focus its resources on workplaces and industries with high rates of injuries and illnesses. The Enhanced Enforcement Program focuses on employers who ignore their safety and health obligations while the agency's Local and National Emphasis Programs focus on specific industries or safety and health issues.