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OSHA targeting businesses with 10 or less employees

Small business owners and employees in Texas might be interested in learning about possible changes by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that may affect them. According to a report, OSHA is requesting for more funding to inspect small businesses where a catastrophic event, like an explosion, could take place.

Presently, OSHA is not able to inspect these smaller industries. However, OSHA said that just because a company has low illness and injury rates and few employees, it does not prove that the company is free from a catastrophic event in the future that could put workers in danger. OSHA referred to the explosion in 2013 at the West Fertilizer Company in Texas that lead to the death of 15 employees as an example for the budget increase request.

The amount that OSHA is seeking from the government is 2.3 percent more than the funds the agency received in 2014. That request comes to a total of $565 million which would cover the agency's 2015 fiscal year budget and make it possible to inspect more businesses. Of this amount, $104 million is allotted to funding state-operated programs, $139 million is allotted to fund programs that assist compliance to OSHA's standards and $210.8 million is allotted to pay for federal enforcement of the agency, furthering its ability to carry out about 40,000 federal-type inspections.

Texas employees who were injured on the job may be entitled to receive compensation to pay for medical expenses and lost wages through a workers' compensation claim. However, in cases where an employee was hurt as a result of gross negligence on the employer's part, and the claim is backed by an OSHA investigation, the employee may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit instead since the award may be larger than the amount of benefits from a workers' compensation claim.

Source: Safety BLR, "OSHA asks for authority to inspect small businesses", Emily Clark, March 20, 2014

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