Why does OSHA want employers to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program? What will this initiative do?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 12 workers are killed every day on the job and more than 3.3 million suffer a serious work related injury or illness each year. The direct cost of the most serious injuries and fatalities is about $1 billion per week. These injuries and illnesses are preventable.
OSHA believes that workers will be better protected if each employer develops a proactive program to help them find hazards in their workplaces and develop a process to fix those hazards so that employees don't get hurt. This would not be a one-size-fits-all requirement. Employers would tailor the program to the size and nature of their workplace.
OSHA has learned much from the variety of approaches taken by 15 states that have required such programs of some or all of their employers. OSHA is basing its proposal on the real world experience of employers and the substantial data on reductions in injuries and illnesses from employers who have implemented similar programs - including the companies in our Voluntary Protection Programs. OSHA will develop a flexible proposal that is appropriate to large and small businesses.
What is the status of the proposal?
OSHA's proposal is in its very early stages. We have conducted 5 stakeholder meetings all across the country. The next step is for us to gather comments from small businesses during the small business review process. That process will be followed by the publication of a proposal, a notice and comment period and extensive public hearings. We encourage anyone who has questions, concerns or experience to participate actively in this process.
Is this rule really an ergonomics standard or other new hazard regulation?
No. This standard is not an ergonomics standard and is not a new hazard regulation.
The Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard will simply require employers to develop a program to help them find and fix hazards in their workplaces.
This initiative does not allow OSHA to cite employers for not addressing any hazards that are not now covered by OSHA standards. OSHA's General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1)) already covers recognized hazards for which OSHA does not have standards. Since its creation 40 years ago, OSHA has cited employers under the General Duty Clause when workers are exposed to serious recognized hazards that have a feasible means of abatement. The Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard will not change that in any way.
Will a violation of an OSHA standard also be cited as a violation of the Injury and Illness Prevention program or vice versa?
No. A citation for violating an existing OSHA standard or for violating the General Duty Clause does not mean that an employer will also be cited for violating the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard.
What if I already have a manageable, common sense injury and illness prevention program in place?
We are aware that many small and large businesses already have effective injury and illness prevention programs. Our primary goal in our proposal is to reach those employers that do not have an effective program. Fifteen states already have requirements for such programs—and OSHA has learned much from the variety of approaches taken by these 15 states.
It is not the agency's intention to require that employers who have previously implemented effective programs that share the basic elements of OSHA's rule to make unnecessary changes. We plan to issue a proposal that is sufficiently flexible to allow those programs to continue uninterrupted. OSHA has not written this proposal yet, and we are still engaging with stakeholders and listening to their concerns.
I understand that OSHA has held stakeholder meetings on this rule. Is that accurate?
OSHA has held five stakeholder meetings: in New Jersey, Texas, California, and two in the District of Columbia. In total, 217 participants registered for these meetings and 263 observers were present. Participants included large and small employers, professional and trade associations, labor representatives and individual workers. Summaries of these stakeholder meetings can be found here.