In November, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector dropped by a high-end remodeling project in Washington, D.C.

The incident convinced the remodeling firm doing the work to step up its safety program, by reaffirming expectations with trades and conducting a thorough internal review of the company’s safety practices.

Good thinking. “It’s true that we’re stepping up enforcement,” though not against remodelers in particular, says Michael Walterschied, OSHA area director for D.C./Baltimore. The agency has requested a 10% budget increase over FY 2009, and plans to hire 1,000 new employees. Jobs smaller than $1 million generally won’t get visited unless they’ve been reported or demonstrated “a violative condition,” Walterschied says. But simple economics — more inspectors, fewer big construction jobs — make the case for working by the OSHA books.

—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

Read a follow-up Q&A that explores the questions of a hypothetical remodeler.

U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Bureau of the Census