OSHA Prevention Program Rule – Shifting Responsibility

by Jude Carter

OSHA is proposing a new standard called the Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Designed to Plan, Prevent and Protect, it’s based on the idea that employers would actively be involved in identifying actual hazards in their workplace and tailoring programs around them.

What are the implications of this in the workplace?
· Safety becomes a more interactive process. Instead of waiting for an OSHA inspection or reacting to a tragedy, this plan puts the responsibility on the shoulders of the employer…and their workers
· Workers would have a greater voice in developing and implementing safety and health plans that are relevant to the unique safety challenges in their workplace. They’d be involved in finding and fixing workplace safety and health hazards.

While this sounds good, it calls for a major change in behavior, and in many cases, culture. We work with companies all across the country helping them communicate important workplace issues to their employees. Workplace safety is often at the top of the list. When it comes to culture change there are 3 critical success factors:
· Communication that sets the stage, clearly outlines objectives and effectively reaches all employees. Ongoing communication with metrics and milestones are essential to keeping the program alive.
· Commitment to integrating the program into individual and team goals, incentive programs, innovative employee suggestion programs, and employee recognition
· Trust – Employers have to open the dialogue with their workers to encourage active participation in the program. In many ways, this can be the most challenging factor, because it involves trust, and a different kind of safety. Workers need to feel safe to voice their opinions without fear of repercussions.

How are you encouraging your employees to speak out on ways to create a safer workplace?




Jude Carter
September 9, 2010

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