One of the major items currently on the docket at OSHA is the so called I2P2 regulation, or the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan.
I2P2 (if enacted) requires that employers establish a system to prevent worker injuries and illnesses using a coordinated and consistent approach.
Why are such initiatives important, and what are the benefits?
Here are four often overlooked benefits and incentives for establishing an effective injury prevention or safety process:
1. It's the right thing to do. Implementation of a safety process shows your employees and the public (or your customers) that you care.
2. You'll Save money and time. Accidents result in financial losses through increased insurance costs, lost time, employee replacement costs, lost productivity, and legal liability—not to mention the huge paperwork headache!
3. You'll protect your corporate image. A serious accident or disaster that makes it into the local newspaper or onto the evening news will have a negative impact on your organization.
4. Your insurance costs will go down. All major insurers expect to see a safety process in place to control risk. The weaker your process, the higher your premiums. Sometimes, an insurer might drop your coverage if there is too much risk at stake.
Workplace safety processes don't have to be complex systems. One mistake businesses make is using a "one size fits all" approach (i.e., trying to copy and implement exactly what some other organization is doing) when establishing or redesigning a safety process.
The following questions below can offer some insight and direction into developing or improving your safety process.
- Have you undertaken a risk assessment of your operation, and if so, are your major safety hazards and accident risks controlled to an acceptable level?
- Is management support limited to just verbal support, or is there action behind the support?
- Are you measuring how effective your safety process is, and if so, are the statistics in use the ones that measure incidents after they occur, before they occur, or both (i.e. OSHA incident rate, etc.)?
- Are employee incentives in place for production greater than those for excellent safety practices and performance?
- Are employees empowered to stop a work process if there is strong evidence of a serious or imminent danger situation?
- Is there good cross communication (including education) among employees, supervisors, and management on safety and health issues?
- Is there a fear of retaliation for reporting an unsafe situation?
- Are appropriate actions taken to correct and/or address those workers that disregard or violate company safety policies and procedures?
- Do you have a system in place for addressing issues as they are uncovered?
- Do you perform a safety checkup periodically to see if things are working properly and to ensure hazards are eliminated or minimized to an acceptable level?
If you answer these questions and implement a simple process to address the issues identified, you are well on your way to establishing or improving your process.
Remember, accidents don't just happen, they happen to be preventable!