OSHA: Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

OSHA has published a new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper on the agency's Web site. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. These programs are effective at reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Many workplaces have already adopted such approaches, for example as part of OSHA's cooperative programs. Not only do these employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, but they often report a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction.

Thirty-four states and many nations around the world already require or encourage employers to implement such programs. The key elements common to all of these programs are management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement.

OSHA believes that adoption of injury and illness prevention programs based on simple, sound, proven principles will help millions of U.S. businesses improve their compliance with existing laws and regulations, decrease the incidence of workplace injuries and illnesses, reduce costs (including significant reductions in workers' compensation premiums) and enhance their overall business operations. Read more on OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page.

OSHA has also initiated a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) Panel Process on a draft Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule on January 6, 2012. The SBREFA Panel process is an opportunity, prior to publishing a proposed rule, for affected small entities (including small businesses, small local governments and small not-for-profit entities) to provide input on the impacts of a draft proposed rule--as well as alternatives that OSHA is considering--on small business and to suggest ways such impacts might be decreased, consistent with agency statutory goals. OSHA convened a SBREFA Panel, which consists of members from OSHA, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (5 U.S.C. 609 (b)(3)).

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, known by a variety of names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace injury and illness prevention programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful injury and illness prevention programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. This topics page provides information relevant to Injury and Illness Prevention Programs in the workplace.

OSHA Inspection Priorities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to strong, fair and effective enforcement of safety and health requirements in the workplace. OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, are experienced, well-trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals whose goal is to assure compliance with OSHA requirements and help employers and workers reduce on-the-job hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths in the workplace. Normally, OSHA conducts inspections without advance notice. Employers have
the right to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering the worksite.

Priorities

OSHA cannot inspect all 7 million workplaces it covers each year. The agency seeks to focus its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces in the following order of priority:
1. Imminent danger situations—hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm—receive top priority. Compliance officers will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately—or remove endangered employees.
2. Fatalities and catastrophes—incidents that involve a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees—come next. Employers must report such catastrophes to OSHA within 8 hours.
3. Complaints—allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.
4. Referrals of hazard information from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.
5. Follow-ups—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections—are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.
6. Planned or programmed investigations— inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses— also receive priority.

To ensure you are ready for an OSHA Inspection, safety training must be provided to all employees. National Safety Compliance has produced up-to-date accurate Safety Training DVDs to ensure compliance with OSHA regulations.

Third Party Qualified Evaluators

Question #1: Do the IACP and JTAC qualify as third party qualified evaluators for purposes of evaluating signal person qualifications in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.1428(a)(1)?

Answer: OSHA defines a "qualified evaluator (third party)" in 29 CFR 1926.1401
as an entity that, due to its independence and expertise, has demonstrated that it is competent in accurately assessing whether individuals meet the Qualification Requirements in this subpart for a signal person.

OSHA requires each employer of a signal person to use a qualified evaluator (a third party or an employee) to verify that the signal person possesses a minimum set of knowledge and skills [29 CFR 1926.1428(a)]. In general, OSHA does not evaluate or endorse specific products or programs, and therefore makes no determination as to whether either program meets the definition of a "qualified evaluator (third party)." It should be noted, however, that in the preamble to the final subpart CC rule, OSHA stated that "labor-management joint apprenticeship training programs that train and assess signal persons would typically meet the definition for a third-party qualified evaluator....." 75 Federal Register 48029, (August 9, 2010). Ultimately, the employer is responsible for assuring that its employees are adequately trained regardless of whether the employees' qualification is assessed by the employer or a third party. See 29 CFR 1926.1428(b) and 1926.1430(b).

Questions #2: Does a JTAC-issued certification card satisfy the requirement for documentation of training for a qualified signal person if the card certifies that the holder has successfully completed testing on the listed specific categories of signals (voice, hand, radio, etc.)?

Answer: Certification cards issued by a third party qualified evaluator or the employer's qualified evaluator would be satisfactory documentation of a signal person's qualification under 1926.1428 provided that the cards specify each type of signaling for which the signal person is qualified, and denote that the card bearer:

  1. knows and understands the type of signal used at the work site;
  2. is competent in the application of the type of signal used at the work site;
  3. has a basic understanding of the equipment operation and limitations, including the crane dynamics involved in swinging and stopping loads and boom deflection from hoisting loads;
  4. knows and understands the relevant requirements of 1926.1419 through 1926.1422 and 1926.1428; and
  5. has demonstrated his/her knowledge of the requirements of items (1) through (4) above through an oral or written test, and through a practical test.
Questions #3: Can an employee's or employer's possession of such a card at the worksite satisfy the 1926.1428(a)(3) requirement that such documentation be "available at the site while the signal person is employed by the employer?"

Answer: Yes. As noted in the preamble to the final rule, the 1926.1928(a)(3) requirement was included in the final rule because OSHA and the C-DAC committee felt that "it is important for employers to make the documentation of signal person qualifications readily available to employees and others who need to rely on those qualifications, such as crane operators who rely on signal persons provided by a different employer, or OSHA for compliance purposes" (75 Federal Register 48029). In practical terms, this availability requirement means that if a crane operator or that operator's employer, an OSHA compliance officer, or another person who needs to verify the qualifications of the signal person requests to see the documentation, the employer must produce it immediately. So long as the card qualifies as documentation of training in accordance with the answer to Question 2, and is on the person of the signal person, in a location where it can be retrieved immediately, or immediately available electronically to present to the requestor, the card would satisfy the availability requirement of 1926.1428(a)(3).