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.
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.
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.