The federal government shutdown is approaching its two-week milestone, as facilities managers begin to feel more and more of the impact. Even though they have started to encounter issues in their operations because government agencies in general have been cut off from funding and employee resources, they are now expected to face even more problems as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration takes on a long-term struggle.
Though OSHA has been successful in guaranteeing that facilities are a safe work environment for all staff members in the past, the organization is having some trouble carrying out all of its functions. According to Bloomberg BNA, OSHA has been missing valuable manpower due to the shutdown. Because the department has been short-staffed, it has had no choice but to scale down its services. As a result, it has been difficult to send out employees who are not furloughed to inspect facilities throughout the nation, causing the agency's enforcement division to suffer.
"OSHA is authorized to continue functions in advance of appropriations on matters 'of emergencies involving the safety of human life or protection of property,'" read the agency's contingency plan issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Any OSHA functions other than responding to severe emergencies are considered nonessential and any employees unneeded for these critical cases have been furloughed, as dictated by the federal shutdown. With an insignificant fraction of OSHA personnel currently working, there is no way that all of the facilities inspections can be conducted. Bloomberg BNA explains that the longer the shutdown drags on, the more an inspection backlog will pile up.
FM staff members to pick up the slack from OSHA cutbacks
This not only means that OSHA operations may be in trouble, flooded with work following the lift of the federal suspension, but also that FM personnel could have issues ensuring that their buildings pose no threat for occupants. In addition to its inability to evaluate facilities, checking to see if they are compliant with all government health and safety regulations, OSHA does not have adequate staff to respond to questions that facilities managers may have about working environment standards.
Without the help of OSHA, FM departments are forced to go it alone to be certain that every aspect of their facilities is in line with government regulations. As they will be more responsible for ensuring the well-being of their representatives and clients, facilities managers may find it useful to employ a comprehensive CMMS like those offered by FacilityDude. With these systems, FM personnel can stay on top of their facilities' maintenance, verifying that equipment is up to code and that every building component is in good condition.