The Jackson Lewis employment law firm posted a pretty interesting legal alert today. It seems the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is moving ahead with plans to establish its proposed national Injury and Illness Prevention Program — described by Jackson Lewis as “new regulatory requirements that may affect nearly every employer.” (This type of program is already required in California; other states have safety programs and safety committee requirements in connection with their workers’ compensation laws.)
The moniker OSHA has assigned to this project is I2P2 — and that’s “not the cute little robot in the Star Wars movies,” the alert points out.
OSHA, it says, “wants employers everywhere to undertake an overarching, programmatic approach to occupational safety and health, a framework for … businesses to incorporate hazard investigation, identification, remediation and prevention into workplace culture.”
To lay the groundwork, OSHA’s eastern research group is preparing a “Safety and Health Practices Survey” to be sent to employers randomnly selected from its database, to profile employers’ establishments, determine existing safety practices, identify sources of safety information … the list goes on.
The survey is currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, billed by OSHA as a way “to enable you to have your voice heard and your experience considered as OSHA approaches new regulation.” OSHA also says “no individual or company will be identified to OSHA,” nor will any information be provided that will “enable identification of any individual or company.” I’m thinking more than one of those randomnly selected employers is going to hope that’s true as they’re hitting the send button.
It’s hard to know what to expect from all this, and so far, there’s no real timetable. In the alert, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels describes I2P2 as a “risk-based system to address hazards” in which workers will play “an important role.” His agency, he says, “is trying to get away from [a] ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ ” approach to dealing with workplace safety and health.
A report from an August I2P2 stakeholder meeting conducted by OSHA reveals some of the thinking behind “methods OSHA could use to increase workplace engagement” with such a program. Take a look. It’s under the header “Possible Regulatory Approaches.” There’s a subsection in there called “Leadership component” that describes crafting a “rule” to encourage top-mangagement engagement. I believe you’d be especially interested in that.