Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Prepared! OSHA to Impose New Federal Rules

Currently in the U.S. there are 34 States that have some regulatory policies with regards to implementing an IIPP (Injury and Illness Prevention Program). A few are mandatory and many others are voluntary in varying degrees. For example, California is a mandatory State and requires a written plan. Depending on certain criteria, the minimum requirements mandate: 
  • The plan be written
  • A specific individual must be identified as a person with the authority to implement the plan
  • The employer must have procedures to evaluate work place hazards (see last month's blog)
  • New employees must show evidence of training
  • All hazardous exposures must be addressed
  • The employer must perform periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions or work practices

These are just a partial list of the standards imposed by the law in California.

The reason I am bringing this to the attention of the rest of the country is to alert Employers that OSHA has been working on I2P2(Injury and Illness Prevention Rule). This is a new rule being proposed and is scheduled to be released by this September 2014. While we all know that it will take some time to roll this out, it will be effective sooner than later. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, has said this is his top rulemaking priority!

The basics of this new standard will be to mandate every workplace to:
  • Provide a comprehensive hazard assessment survey
  • Employers must design a written program to evaluate all hazardous exposures identified and provide periodical reviews of how the plan is minimizing these hazards as well as the risk of injuries to employee. 
  • Employers are also being required to have regular safety meetings with educational materials and training.
Currently, there isn't any federal requirement to perform these hazard assessments, except in certain situations where employees are exposed to unusually dangerous circumstances. One such example would be exposure to some chemicals.

OSHA has done a great deal of research on this topic and see this as a real simple solution with proven principles that will keep millions of Americans safer. The expectation is that implementing this rule will significantly decrease the incidences of workplace injuries and illnesses which in turn will equate to substantial reductions in costs.

The bottom line is that now is the time to get ahead of this and start developing a hazard assessment plan right away. Using last month's blog is a good way to start. Also, there are several websites with examples of programs that are being used now. Identify who your champion will be to administer and be responsible for this and get going!

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