OSHA has received all the money it requested for  inspection activities this fiscal year, but less for its  burgeoning whistleblower program.

An agency spokesperson said OSHA would conduct 37,635  inspections this year on a budget of $207.8 million.  Originally, the agency proposed doing 39,250 inspections,  but the 16-day government shutdown in October, 2013 cut that number by about 1,400 visits.

The agency plans to use its 2014 inspection experience to  develop a “weighting” system for use in the future.  Some  inspections, such as process safety reviews, can take up to  six months, while a construction worksite inspection may  last only six hours.  Either type of inspection is weighted  the same by OSHA. However, using a differentiated  weighting approach would allow the agency to measure  and assign its limited resources more accurately for the  different types of inspections it carries out.

OSHA has not disclosed details of a weighting system, but  Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels is known to prefer  inspections that take more time.  If that happened, it  would come at a cost of fewer inspections overall.

Unlike the inspectorate, OSHA’s whistleblower program  received just $2 million in new money, far less than the  $6.9 million requested.  The agency wanted the money to  augment its existing 115-member whistleblower staff  with 47 new hires.  The agency said it needs the new  positions to help reduce a case backlog and deal with  additional work created by recent laws, including the  Affordable Care Act. An agency spokesperson said no  decisions have been reached on how many new positions  the $2 million would create.

OSHA's budget request predicted a backlog of 2,385  whistleblower requests in 2014.  Last year, 82 percent of  the 2,272 then-unresolved cases had been open for more  than three months, with the average case pending for 13.6  months.  Federal law calls for completing complaint  investigations within one to three months, depending on  the statute involved.