OSHA’s Pending IIPP Standard

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration is directing its efforts toward enforcing a standard in which employers nationwide will be required to establish a thorough, written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels calls the IIPP the organization’s highest priority and said it could go into effect in the next one to two years. Its goal is to reduce injuries and the associated costs to business. In fact, California, which implemented the requirement in 1991, has experienced overwhelmingly positive results from it.

What’s Involved

IIPPs aren’t a new idea; most companies already have a program in place designed to reduce or eliminate worksite health and safety hazards. OSHA’s standard, however, will make it a requirement and will set guidelines for what must be included in the program. OSHA is accepting input during the drafting phase but has officially stated the following will be required IIPP inclusions:

Hazard Identification/Assessment: A written process by which hazards will be identified. This will include investigating incidents, inspecting the workplace for hazards, and identifying new hazards created by worksite changes or emergencies.

Hazard Prevention/Control: Control methods by which hazards will be isolated or eliminated. This portion of the IIPP also will require documentation of the control methods and their determined effectiveness.

Management: This will cover a company’s chain of command, including managerial duties, resource distribution and allocation, and the proper network for employee communication.

Education and Training: Training requirements, such as specific hazard training, control methods and timetables, will be required. In addition, incidents would dictate the need for residual or refresher training.

Employee Involvement: This will ensure employees participate in creating and maintaining the IIPP. It provides employees with access to important safety information and sets guidelines for employee involvement in risk assessments and incident investigations.

Program Evaluation and Improvement: Employer IIPPs will need to be considered a living document, constantly being evaluated and updated. These evaluations will include performance monitoring and using incident investigations to identify and correct program deficiencies.

Why?

OSHA’s goal in making its IIPP standard a federal requirement is to encourage employers to implement clear directives for reducing health and safety hazards in the workplace. By mitigating hazards and reducing safety incidents in this way, employers should expect to see an overall improvement in workplace health conditions.

The standard will also allow OSHA to look more deeply at an employer’s systems and efforts to reduce workplace hazards. By making safety at work more transparent, OSHA will be able to get more involved in evaluation and risk reduction.

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Connect to and Motivate Your Staff

A friend of mine recently lost his job because of budget cuts. He was employed at a satellite office and not a single manager who made the decision about his livelihood took the time to commute to the satellite location to share the news. Instead, he was called to a conference room where human resources personnel laid him off via speakerphone. My friend was not surprised he was let go, nor was he surprised by how it was done, considering how disconnected he believes the “worker bees” at his former corporation are from management. He had been disgruntled by the lack of communication and management’s questionable decision-making for some time.

I can attest that managing people is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in any line of work. Being a leader requires a thick skin, excellent communication skills and the ability to make tough decisions, among other talents. However, at a time when budgets are tightened and everyone is doing less with more, becoming too consumed in your own tasks and disconnecting from employees is a fatal mistake. Now is the time to embrace your team, make them feel appreciated, motivate them to take on new roles, and identify and reward their strengths. Employees who feel disconnected from what is occurring within a business will feel unappreciated and will not perform at their best. In addition, without employee buy-in, it will be difficult to enforce new programs and procedures within a company.

In this issue, we feature articles about two safety programs you should seriously consider implementing within your roofing business not only to protect your employees, but also to protect your business as a whole. For example, “Business Sense,” addresses distracted driving. I think you’ll be surprised by the broad interpretation of the law in some of the court cases mentioned within the article: Your roofing business could be liable if a worker has an accident while using a mobile device in his personal vehicle or sightseeing on a business trip. According to the author, state and federal mobile-device laws are not enough; developing and enforcing a reasonable mobile-device safety program is a major step toward minimizing your business’ liability.

In “Safety,” Michael Rich explains the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s priority to require all businesses to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program probably within the next two years. California employers already have been operating under this requirement since 1991, providing a model you can duplicate within your business before the requirement is mandated across the country.

Establishing these programs within your business offers a wonderful opportunity to connect to and motivate your staff. You can create teams of volunteers to explore and create policies. When the teams meet, buy them lunch. When your staff goes six months without a distracted driving incident or an injury, celebrate with awards or a party. Take the time to show your employees you appreciate their efforts not only to make your business safer, but also to successfully execute their daily tasks.

In addition, consider setting aside some time on a regular basis specifically to reconnect with the “worker bees”. Join a roofing crew for a week, or answer phones in the front office. Your efforts will establish a new level of trust with your employees and, ultimately, create a better workplace. Perhaps most importantly, your staff will feel as though operational changes, like the safety programs mentioned in this issue, are happening “with” them rather than “to” them.