The American Society of Safety Engineers sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Representative Darrell Issa reiterating the Society’s support for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) development of an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) standard, and sharing the principles the Society will use in responding to that rulemaking.
The I2P2 rule would require employers to implement a program tailored to the hazards in their workplaces and require employers to “find and fix” hazards without waiting for a workplace incident, an issue-specific OSHA standard, or an OSHA inspection. If leadership in the House of Representatives decides that oversight of OSHA’s I2P2 rulemaking is needed, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform could hold hearings to provide that oversight.
“To be clear, ASSE, like everyone else, waits to see what OSHA proposes for its I2P2 standard,” wrote ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. “If the Committee determines that its oversight of OSHA’s activities with regard to the I2P2 is needed, we encourage you to take the opportunity to listen to our member safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals’ view of such a standard.”
With the letter to Rep. Issa, ASSE shared the ASSE December 2010 letter sent to Assistant Secretary for OSHA David Michaels stating the principles ASSE will use in helping determine its engagement in the important rulemaking process.
“OSHA’s final I2P2 must encourage risk-based safety management that will help employers avoid proscriptive regulations, be highly flexible so that every industry can meet its requirements without unnecessary burdens, and be simple enough for the smallest employers to use without being burdened. We firmly believe OSHA can write a standard that meets those requirements and will do all that we can do to help see a final standard that meets our principles,” Hill continued.
The suggested ASSE set of principles that an I2P2 standard must contain if it is to succeed are:
- An I2P2 standard must encourage a movement in this nation towards risk-based management of workplace hazards.
- An I2P2 standard must recognize the need for involvement of both the employer and employee in establishing a safe workplace without diminishing or replacing the overall responsibility for the program by the employer.
- An I2P2 standard should instill in workplaces a commitment to continual improvement and appropriate periodic review of the workplace I2P2.
- An I2P2 standard will not succeed if the end-result is simply a reiteration of the General Duty Clause to cover hazards not specifically addressed in current OSHA standards.
- A standard must address the qualifications of the individual charged by the employer with creating a workplace’s I2P2. The complex operations and hazards that many large employers face will require a Certified Safety Professional (CSP). Many employers will be able to rely on a “competent person” if a more definitive understanding of “competent person” can be adopted by OSHA, such as an appropriately competent person who, through experience and training, is able to identify actual and potential hazards, understand safe work practices, design and implement control strategies, and have demonstrated expertise in establishing and managing a safety and health program.
- While all employers should be covered under an I2P2 standard, the standard must be scalable, reasonably flexible and responsive to the realistic capabilities and hazards of employers of all sizes and industry groups. For some very small employers, or light hazard operations, if a one or two-page checklist of hazards with guidelines to control those hazards cannot meet the standard, the standard will have difficulty succeeding.
- Federal OSHA should take into consideration the California I2P2 standard as a basis for a federal standard. In any case, states like California with an existing I2P2 standard should be exempt from a federal standard if their standard is at least as effective as the federal standard.
- An I2P2 standard should be harmonized with the most widely accepted voluntary consensus standards governing safety and health program management in the private sector, including ANSI Z10 Occupational Health & Safety Management System and OSHAS 18000 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems Specification, and efforts should be made to work with the standards development organizations responsible for those standards.
- Appropriate training for OSHA inspection personnel that encourages cooperative as well as enforcement-directed interaction with employers will be needed to support the implementation and meaningful adherence to an I2P2 standard.
- Withdrawing support for VPP is not consistent with the establishment of an I2P2 standard. Participation in VPP demonstrates that I2P2s are effective in addressing workplace risks and developing a shared employer and employee commitment to workplace safety and health.