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Safety leaders discuss OSHA’s I2P2 standard

November 2, 2011

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Philadelphia – Speakers at the 2011 NSC Congress & Expo occupational keynote addressed the benefits and challenges of a mandatory safety management program, and OSHA administrator David Michaels provided an update on the agency’s pursuit of its Injury and Illness Prevention Program Standard, also known as I2P2.

NIOSH Director John Howard and Michael Silverstein, head of Washington state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, joined Michaels on stage for the Nov. 1 event. Michaels said a safety and health management system requirement could have a bigger impact than individual standards, and that every company should have a prevention program. Michaels said that, contrary to what some critics have suggested, I2P2 would not be a “job killer” and some companies find such programs actually increase efficiency and profit margins.

With the development of an I2P2 standard, the agency would avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, Michaels said. The proposed rule likely would require employers to set goals for their program but would not specify goals for individual workplaces.

All three speakers acknowledged the concern that an I2P2 standard could result in a “paper system” in which a program is written but never fully integrated into the worksite. “It’s a book on a shelf,” Howard warned. “It’s really never implemented. It’s really never maintained, and it doesn’t become part of the culture.”

Howard said requiring employers' programs to be “effective” could help prevent such neglect. Silverstein said the focus of the rule should be requiring companies to identify and fix hazards.

Howard commended Michaels for reaching out to the State Plan states to learn from their prevention program standards in the development of the federal standard. The OSHA chief said the agency also is looking at programs developed by the military.

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