Injury and Illness Prevention Program Stakeholder Meeting,
June 10, 2010
Meeting Summary Report
Table of Contents
Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Stakeholder Meeting
June 10, 2010
Meeting Summary Report
This report summarizes key discussion points from a stakeholder meeting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened pertaining to its rulemaking on injury and illness prevention programs. The meeting was held on June 10, 2010, at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Fort Worth, Texas, from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain information from a diverse range of stakeholders that could be used to help develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule, which will reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by requiring employers to implement injury and illness prevention programs. These programs would use systematic approaches to proactively address safety and health hazards.
A notice of the stakeholder meeting published in the Federal Register (Volume 75, Number 85, pages 23,637–23,640) on May 4, 2010, informed potential attendees that pre-meeting registration was required. The notice also briefly summarized Injury and Illness Prevention Program and current standards, outlined the topics for meeting discussion, and explained meeting logistics (e.g., number of allowed attendees, meeting times and location). The Fort Worth meeting was the second of three scheduled Injury and Illness Prevention Program stakeholder meetings. Attendees were designated as either participants or observers. In total, 42 participants and 38 observers attended the meeting. Participants were seated along with OSHA representatives in a roundtable format. Observers occupied rows of chairs behind the participant area.
Participants included employer and labor representatives, consultants, safety and health professionals, industrial hygienists, academics, and members of occupational safety and health public interest groups. Participants were entitled to provide verbal comments throughout the meetings; observers were restricted from commenting during the meeting until the final session had completed, at which point OSHA entertained questions and comments from observers.
Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG) provided logistical support for the stakeholder meeting, and an ERG technical writer attended the meeting and prepared this summary report. This report captures the main discussion points raised by stakeholders during the meetings, including remarks made by individual stakeholders, but is not a verbatim meeting transcript. No portion of this document reflects or should be considered to represent the viewpoints or opinions of ERG.
All participants were asked to introduce themselves by stating their name and their affiliation. Following the participant introductions, the OSHA panel was introduced. OSHA representatives in attendance included Dorothy Dougherty, Mike Seymour, Mark Hagemann, and Luis Martinez from the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, as well as Paul Bolon from the Office of Regulatory Analysis.
Dorothy Dougherty, the Director of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, provided the introduction to the meeting. Ms. Dougherty welcomed the attendees and emphasized that OSHA’s goal for the meeting was to have an open discussion to hear stakeholder opinions about an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule and to gather information to help in formulating a rule. She stressed that the discussion should not be considered a hearing or a formal meeting. OSHA realizes that all stakeholders have busy schedules and is thankful that each attendee took time to participate in the meeting. The Directorate of Standards and Guidance is in charge of developing occupational safety and health standards. Information and data provided by stakeholders is essential to creating meaningful, effective standards. Ms. Dougherty encouraged stakeholders to remain involved as the rule is developed. The rulemaking process can be lengthy, and public participation is welcomed at every step. Prevention programs such as OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), consensus standards such as ANSI/AIHA Z10 and OHSAS 18001, and state-run programs are effective models for improving worker safety and health. OSHA believes that introducing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard would help to decrease the number of worker fatalities and reduce the occurrence and severity of injury and illness.
Ms. Dougherty indicated that this rulemaking is a major priority for the current administration and that the report from the previous Injury and Illness Prevention Program stakeholder meeting in East Brunswick, New Jersey, would soon be available on OSHA’s website. OSHA was pleased with the number and variety of attendees and looked forward to a productive meeting and future collaboration on rulemaking. OSHA is hosting one additional stakeholder meeting on Injury and Illness Prevention Program in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2010. Ms. Dougherty stated that OSHA is considering hosting additional meetings in Washington, D.C., and California.
Mike Seymour of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance joined Ms. Dougherty in welcoming everyone to the meeting. Mr. Seymour remarked that he knew many of the participants by name or reputation, and he was confident that the discussion would be highly informative. Mr. Seymour said that an Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard has the capacity to change both the physical workplace and its culture. The standard would apply to small and large businesses alike, and be flexible enough to apply to different types of industries and hazards. OSHA can only meet this challenge, however, with support of the stakeholders around the table—and continued dialogue in the future. The agency is interested to learn what has worked and what has not worked with safety and health management systems. Mr. Seymour acknowledged that some stakeholders had made requests to change the agenda of the meeting. He said that, although OSHA appreciates the concern and input of these stakeholders, the agenda had not been changed because it was a logical way to gather the information OSHA needs. Finally, Mr. Seymour concluded that the Directorate of Standards and Guidance feels that this standard is particularly important, and that accomplishing the goal will only be possible with continued assistance from the public.
Meeting facilitator Elizabeth Vasquez (of Management Consulting Associates) provided the stakeholders with an overview of the meeting format. Ms. Vasquez explained that the meeting should be considered an informal forum to present comments. Ms. Vasquez encouraged the stakeholders to provide their points of view, explaining that although the meeting was being recorded and a summary report would be developed, no attribution would be made to individual commenters or to representatives from specific industries. Ms. Vasquez informed the observers that OSHA would invite questions and comments from them at the end of the meeting, if time allowed. Ms. Vasquez also provided the stakeholders with an overview of the agenda. OSHA staff presented the specific questions the stakeholders were asked to address.
OSHA representatives sought specific information regarding (1) the possible regulatory approach to the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, (2) the scope and application of the rule, (3) organization of the rule, and (4) the economic impacts of the rule. The following is a summary of the key stakeholder comments made during the meeting. Comments are grouped together by topic without referencing the identity of the commenter.
4.1 Possible Regulatory Approaches
Mike Seymour, of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, introduced the topic of possible regulatory approaches for an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule. OSHA has had an interest in injury and illness prevention programs for some time. The agency has established various initiatives over the years to encourage employers to implement safety and health programs. Support for safety and health programs led the agency to issue the Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (54 FR 3908) in 1989. Current system standards, such as the ANSI/AIHA Z10 and the British Standards Institute OHSAS 18001, as well as the program standards implemented in various states, have also provided useful and effective guidelines.
Mr. Seymour posed the following questions to the stakeholders: There is a substantial history of safety and health management programs that should be considered during the development of this standard. What did OSHA do right in prior initiatives? What did OSHA do wrong? What experiences have you had with OSHA’s voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, VPP, SHARP, state standards, ANSI Z10, or OHSAS 18001? What are the advantages and disadvantages of adopting such a rule?
Stakeholders provided the following comments and recommendations on the above topics:
Management Programs Versus Technical Standards
- One participant felt that the OSHA standard needs to include specific engineering requirements, rather than administrative requirements and management programs. This participant felt industries are often unclear on how to correctly fulfill standards that are too general or that use generic terms. In reply, however, stakeholders argued that the standard should to include general, performance-type requirements, rather than highly specific ones. Safety and health management systems, they stated, are a framework the company uses to create a safe facility environment. They felt companies should be able to determine the best safety measures for their own facilities, and that specific details can be included in voluntary appendices to the standard.
- Other stakeholders argued that, although the regulated community would prefer a highly specific standard, such a standard would not be effective. These participants expressed a belief that there is no simple formula for creating a safe workplace because of the numerous differences between facilities. In their opinion, the OSHA standard should be based on preexisting standards and guidelines that have been effective.
- The paperwork requirements associated with an Injury and Illness Prevention Program are too cumbersome, argued some stakeholders—small businesses lack the resources to complete the required paperwork. In response, OSHA acknowledged that the paperwork requirements posed by OHSAS 18001 are probably excessive for small businesses. OSHA noted that its standard will be guided by the restrictions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and will be sensitive to the paperwork burden placed on small businesses.
- Stakeholders said that the OSHA standard should include the construction industry and should define the relationship between general contractors and subcontractors. General contractors should assist subcontractors in developing the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule, they said. At the same time, they noted that OSHA should not cite a general contractor if a subcontractor neglects a program.
- One participant recommended that the OSHA standard include a requirement for job hazard analyses or task hazard analyses and that these be conducted by supervisors and communicated to employees. This participant feels such analyses are effective methods for identifying controls that will reduce the number of incidents.
- Participants noted that, in many industries, process or engineering improvements are only made in response to workplace incidents. Requiring periodic systematic reviews of workplace processes would promote a more active, rather than reactive, philosophy in the workplace.
Other Standards and Programs
- Several participants brought up California’s IIPP regulation (California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 3203), which has been in place since 1991. They explained that all employers are required to implement a program, regardless of size, and that any employer with 11 or more employees must develop a written program. Participants familiar with the California rule would like to see OSHA accept programs developed under state regulations as conforming, as long as the programs contain the proper elements.
- Participants further explained that the California standard classifies employers as high-, medium-, or low-hazard. According to them, this classification system allows for flexibility in requirements between industries. Participants also noted that California has provided model programs, which employers use as guides to develop their own programs. In response, OSHA expressed concern that distributing a model program could allow companies to copy the program and claim to follow it without ensuring the program is suitable to their facilities.
- Although quantitative data on the effectiveness of state programs are not yet available, OSHA reported it believes there is substantial anecdotal evidence such programs are effective. OSHA also mentioned a Rand Corporation study that is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of the California standard. The study is expected to be released later this summer.
- One participant noted that Australia has a strong history of effective safety and health programs, stemming from a tripartite approach to safety and health. OSHA should research the effective elements of Australia’s standards, they said, and should refer to Australian journal publications that have quantified such programs’ effectiveness.
- Participants noted that the annual management review element of ANSI Z10 is very effective.
- Regarding VPP, one participant noted that it is a fairly effective program, but felt it has a limited focus, i.e. individual employee behavior.
Size of Affected Companies
- Participants said that OSHA should be wary of small companies hiring safety consultants to develop programs, but then not devoting any resources or efforts to implementing them.
- The requirements specified by the OSHA standard should be scaled to the size of each company, noted one participant, otherwise the burden on small companies will be excessive. This stakeholder also expressed a wish that the standard be available in a concise, condensed version because small companies do not have access to safety and health professionals who can study and interpret it.
Objectives of the Standard
- Participants said that the OSHA standard should lead to the development of site-specific injury and illness prevention programs. In their opinion, generic programs do not consider the variation between facilities or between companies, making them significantly less effective at promoting safety and health.
- While an OSHA standard would encourage employee involvement in Injury and Illness Prevention Program, said participants, company management will be responsible for creating a workplace culture that expects employee involvement, which is critical to the success of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
- Stakeholders argued that the OSHA standard should promote, but not enforce, safe behavior for offsite employees—this would translate to increased onsite employee safety.
Defining a Program’s Effectiveness
- One participant emphasized the need for OSHA to clearly and consistently define the term “effective”, noting that program effectiveness cannot be left to interpretation by individual OSHA inspectors. This stakeholder also feels that effective programs should not be defined in terms of the number of incidents, as luck is often the difference between an incident and a near miss.
Enforcement of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program Standard
- Some participants felt that the OSHA standard needs to be specific, to ensure that enforcement is not based on an individual enforcement officer’s interpretation of the standard.
- OSHA noted that because it’s enforcement resources are limited, it hopes to develop a standard that is effective at workplaces that are not visited by enforcement officials. OSHA indicated that employers cited under the general duty clause or an industry-specific standard will not necessarily be cited under the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard. If an effective program is in place but a mistake is made, the employer would only be cited once.
- Some participants have experience with the alliances OSHA has established with various industries. In their experience these alliances have been a proactive method of improving workplace safety. They encouraged OSHA to continue to approach safety and health in a proactive way, rather than through regulations, which tend to be reactive (citations are issued after workplace incidents). Similarly, participants argued that OSHA should increase compliance assistance outreach because it can impact safety before an incident occurs.
- Because OSHA is concerned that employee recognition programs might encourage non-reporting of incidents, participants said, OSHA should identify specific alternative methods that companies can implement to encourage employee participation in an Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
4.2 Scope and Application of a Rule
Luis Martinez of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance introduced the topic of the potential scope and application of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule. He noted there are more than 7.5 million businesses in the United States, and that more than five million of these employ 20 or fewer employees. Mr. Martinez expressed OSHA’s interest in hearing participants’ opinions about how broad a reach an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule should have. OSHA would like to formulate a rule that is broad enough to capture all workplace hazards, but also be focused enough so that the rule does not lose its effectiveness. Mr. Martinez explained that the scope of the rule could be limited using several different approaches, and that OSHA was particularly interested in hearing stakeholders’ opinions about whether and how to do this.
Mr. Martinez posed the following questions to the stakeholders: What would be an appropriate approach to the scope of the standard? What industries and employers should be covered by the standard? Should the rule be limited to specific occupational hazards?
Stakeholders provided the following comments and recommendations regarding the scope of the rule and how it should be applied:
Industries and Employers the Standard Should Cover
- Participants began by noting that the construction industry was not addressed by OSHA’s voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (issued in 1989) and asked OSHA whether the industry would be covered under the present rule being considered. OSHA responded that the construction industry was excluded from the Guideline because it was already covered by an industry-specific standard and OSHA did not want to create legal confusion by covering a single industry with a guideline and a standard. The upcoming Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, however, would likely cover the construction industry. Participants generally agreed with this plan, suggesting it is appropriate for the OSHA standard to include construction because it is a high-hazard industry.
- Some stakeholders argued that employers who meet existing state standard requirements should be exempt from the OSHA standard. They added that if OSHA does include those employers in the standard, they should not be required to meet additional requirements and rewrite their programs.
- One participant argued that small businesses should not be exempt from the standard because dangerous jobs and industries exist regardless of the size of the employer. Others said that the OSHA standard should apply to all industries, regardless of the level of hazard, but then suggested OSHA direct its enforcement efforts at larger companies or high-hazard industries. Doing so, they argued, would increase the cost-effectiveness of the standard.
- Others argued that the OSHA standard will not be cost-effective if it initially covers every workplace in the United States. Rather, they recommend OSHA use NAICS codes to determine which industries experience the highest incident rates. High-hazard industries, they argued, could be the first industries covered by the standard, allowing OSHA to evaluate the standard before expanding its coverage to lower-hazard industries. In response to this suggestion, one participant referred OSHA to Texas A&M University, which has compiled extensive data on the prevalence of incidents and hazards in various industries.
Other Standards and Programs
- Participants from California said that state has developed and made available model plans that can be used by high-, medium-, and low-hazard employers. They suggested OSHA could use these model programs as a reference to determine which program elements to include in the OSHA standard.
- Another participant noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created guidelines specific to the healthcare industry, which OSHA could apply to the standard.
- Some participants suggested OSHA minimize the reporting and paperwork burden for small businesses while still covering them under the standard. Others argued that the standard should not include any reporting requirements.
- The OSHA standard needs to be flexible so that companies can tailor their Injury and Illness Prevention Program to their own industry and facilities, participants said. They felt that if the standard’s requirements are too rigid, programs will not be effective at every workplace.
- Several stakeholders emphasized that the OSHA standard should require employee participation in the development of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. One participant familiar with the in-home health care service sector noted that only the employees are aware of the various hazards to which they are exposed.
- Some participants argued that OSHA should update the voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines issued in 1989, but should not implement a standard. They recommended updating the guidelines so that they apply broadly to all industries and workplaces. Although OSHA would lack the ability to enforce the guidelines, they argued that improving these guidelines would be the most cost-effective way to encourage employers to implement effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program in the workplace.
4.3 Organization of a Rule
Mark Hagemann, of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, introduced the topic of how the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule should be organized. OSHA has the task of determining what an Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard would look like; Mr. Hagemann requested stakeholder input on how the standard should be organized so that covered employers and industries will be able to comply with the rule.
Mr. Hagemann posed the following questions: OSHA has identified six core elements for inclusion in the standard: (1) management duties; (2) employee participation; (3) hazard identification and assessment; (4) hazard control; (5) education and training; and (6) program evaluation and improvement. Are these core elements an effective foundation for this standard? What should the overall standard look like? What additional tools or appendices would be useful? Do you have successful tools or guidance that can assist employers in compliance with the standard?
Stakeholders provided the following comments and recommendations regarding organization of a rule:
Structure of the Standard
- OSHA reiterated that some of the proposed elements and sub elements were borrowed from preexisting standards. Although the proposed elements suggest a strong similarity to VPP, the OSHA standard will be tailored to businesses of all sizes, some of which are not ready for VPP.
- Participants argued that the OSHA standard should be kept generic and should include voluntary appendices and tools. One suggested the standard recognize existing rules (e.g., state standards, ANSI Z9.10-2005, Australia’s standard) and refer to them as guidance.
- Some participants argued that, if the OSHA standard includes specific requirements for businesses, it could have a negative impact on the development of safety and health culture in the workplace. According to these stakeholders, employees will question whether the required Injury and Illness Prevention Program is being implemented for the sake of improving their safety or merely for the sake of complying with an OSHA standard.
- Other participants stated that the OSHA standard must include specific requirements, or at least industry-specific appendices, so that employers know what OSHA’s enforcement officials expect of them.
- Participants said that the six elements proposed by OSHA form a good foundation for the OSHA standard. Some cautioned, however, that OSHA will need to objectively define how each element must be fulfilled. Otherwise, these stakeholders argued, each enforcement official may provide their own interpretation. Others added that the standard must clearly specify what constitutes sufficient compliance with each element.
- Participants urged OSHA to focus on the duties of management when developing the standard. They emphasized that similar to OHSAS 18001, the standard needs to clearly outline the role of management, which will help to foster a culture of safety awareness in the workplace. Responsibility can be delegated internally, participants said, but management should have the ultimate responsibility established by the standard. Participants also suggested renaming “management duties” to “management leadership” or “management involvement,” as well as clearly defining what constitutes successful goal-setting, a sub element of management duties.
- Participants said that the OSHA standard needs to include elements that ensure employee awareness of, and participation in, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Some recommended the standard further allow employers to discipline employees who knowingly violate their Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
- Through this standard, OSHA stated, it is considering providing employees with access to information on workplace illness, injuries, and prevention processes. OSHA believes that this access will empower employees to participate and allow them to further contribute to a safety culture in the workplace. Some participants disagreed, stating that requiring employee access to a significant amount of records or information could create economic hardship for smaller companies with limited information technology resources.
Hazard Identification and Assessment
- One participant argued that the hazard identification program can be a good measure of Injury and Illness Prevention Program effectiveness and can be used to record the participation of employees who identify and reduce or eliminate hazards.
Education and Training
- The OSHA standard should require a written program for businesses of all sizes, participants said, and the education element of the standard must be a major factor. This will ensure that small businesses are aware of program requirements and are able to write an adequate program.
- Participants suggested that OSHA place training and education materials online. Online resources are significantly more accessible for companies or industries that have employees who do not frequent a central office (e.g., in-home health care). OSHA indicated in response that training or education requirements posed by the Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard would be related solely to the implementation and management of Injury and Illness Prevention Program and not related to any other industry-specific OSHA standard.
Program Evaluation and Improvement
- Because the number of employees at a small business constitutes a small sample size, participants cautioned that OSHA will need to use creative and thoughtful metrics for measuring the success of a program and the safety of a workplace. One participant noted that if OSHA does use a reportable incident as a metric of program success, the OSHA recordkeeping standard will need to be revisited. Currently, this participant argued, incidents with no relation to an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (e.g., a bee sting at work) must be reported as workplace incidents.
- Several participants recommended that the OSHA standard capture near misses as part of the metric for measuring program effectiveness.
Additional Elements to Include
- One stakeholder noted that similar programs at construction work sites with general contractors and subcontractors have created legal battles in states that have their own standards. They advised that this element of the OSHA standard needs to be clearly defined if OSHA wishes to avoided or reduce the number of similar lawsuits.
Other Standards and Programs
- The voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines issued in 1989 and OSHA’s unsuccessful rulemaking effort conducted in 1995 contain an effective foundation for an Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, said one participant, and OSHA should expand upon the elements identified in those efforts.
- Participants suggested ensuring that the OSHA standard contains elements similar to the California state standard—noting it would be extremely time-consuming and costly if California employers had to develop new Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
- Some participants argued that OSHA should adopt ANSI Z10-2005 as the national standard to avoid spending considerable resources to develop a standard when adequate standards and guidelines already exist. In response, other participants argued that, if OSHA incorporates by reference a standard that normally must be purchased (e.g., ANSI Z10-2005), OSHA should make the applicable standard available at no cost. Others recommended OSHA not base its standard on ANSI Z10-2005 because that standard’s requirements are too prescriptive.
- One participant recommended OSHA consult the Alabama state plan for its definition of an “effective program.” According to this stakeholder the state plan does not simply equate a reportable incident with an ineffective program. Others suggested that the OSHA standard’s measure of an effective program be based on those included in VPP.
- Participants said that, like OSHA, California faces budget limitations that restrict enforcement efforts. They expressed hope that California enforcement officials might attend OSHA’s upcoming Injury and Illness Prevention Program stakeholder meeting in California, at which point they could detail the cause and nature of the budgetary concerns.
- One participant mentioned a company in California that implemented a model Injury and Illness Prevention Program, but was still cited for an insufficient program after injuries occurred. They recommended OSHA determine how the incidence of an injury will affect citations for companies with an otherwise adequate Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
4.4 Economic Impact
Paul Bolon from OSHA’s Office of Regulatory Analysis introduced the topic of economic impacts from the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule. Mr. Bolon explained that OSHA is required to demonstrate that its regulations are economically feasible. Additionally, to facilitate OMB’s review, OSHA weighs the economic impacts of regulations using the techniques of cost-benefit analyses. OSHA needs stakeholder information about what the potential costs and benefits of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule would be.
Mr. Bolon posed the following questions to the stakeholders: What are the costs of starting and maintaining an Injury and Illness Prevention Program? What would be the incremental cost to businesses that already have implemented an Injury and Illness Prevention Program? What approaches could be used to minimize costs? What kind of impact would this standard have on small businesses? How can the benefits or the effectiveness of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program be measured? Mr. Bolon also asked stakeholders to refer OSHA to any specific sources of cost or benefit data that they were aware of.
Stakeholders provided the following comments and recommendations regarding economic impacts:
- Participants noted that it will be difficult for OSHA to estimate the cost associated with this standard, because the Injury and Illness Prevention Program implemented at each company will vary so widely.
- OSHA should consult with businesses that currently use programs that comply with state standards or voluntary guidelines, participants said. They further suggested that trade associations might be a source of estimates of the cost to implement and maintain a model Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
- One participant suggested that most of the cost associated with the Injury and Illness Prevention Program will be associated with maintaining the program over time. They felt that a safety consultant could be hired to help develop a program for a few thousand dollars but to maintain the program, the costs associated with management commitment, employee participation, training, and addressing hazards become substantial over time.
- Participants provided two reference points for what an Injury and Illness Prevention Program might costs: At a 120-employee petrochemical company that employed three safety and health personnel, the total budget for the safety and health personnel was $320,000 per year. Another company, a 30-employee tank washing and box rental operation with $8 million in annual revenues, spent $20,000 to start its Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The company then spent $100,000 annually to maintain the program, most of which went toward the salary of a devoted safety and health officer.
- Participants cited employee turnover as an important factor for OSHA to consider in determining costs. For example, they suggested the high turnover rate in the construction industry would increase training costs because more personnel must receive initial training. Others argued that an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule can reduce turnover by creating safer workplace environments—but acknowledged some businesses hire employees seasonally regardless of their safety record.
- In response to a question about how it estimates costs, OSHA stated that it considers many variables when developing cost estimates. For example, to estimate training costs OSHA would take into account the different job responsibilities for employees, and the costs required to train them. In the airline industry, for example, costs for training pilots would likely be different from the costs for training mechanics.
- OSHA was also asked if it ever examines its cost estimates retroactively to determine whether its initial estimates were accurate. OSHA responded that it does reexamine the cost of regulations after implementation as part of the Regulatory Flexibility Act’s “Lookback” review (Section 610, 5 U.S.C. 601). Based on these reviews, OSHA’s regulatory cost estimates have been fairly accurate.
- One participant urged OSHA to consider that small businesses are trying to keep their employees safe, but often have very small profit margins. For these businesses, even a small initial cost or fine can cause bankruptcy.
- Stakeholders emphasized that any required training tools be available free of charge in order to minimize burden and increase compliance from small businesses.
- One participant cautioned that an OSHA standard would not change an employer who does not value safety, and that such employers will simply absorb fines and continue to operate without changing their practices. They believe employees from small businesses need an effective avenue for informing OSHA about these dangerous businesses.
- OSHA informed stakeholders that, as part of the rulemaking process, it will be convening a panel of small business representatives who can provide assistance estimating the economic impacts that will result from a proposed rule. This is a requirement under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA). This aspect of the rulemaking process will be particularly important because of the broad scope of the standard. OSHA requested participants’ assistance identifying employers who could represent small businesses on the SBREFA Panel.
Cost-Effectiveness and Costs vs. Benefits
- One participant mentioned that a number of articles evaluating the cost-effectiveness of Injury and Illness Prevention Program have been published in Australian safety journals.
- Several participants argued that the Injury and Illness Prevention Program would pay for itself because of the reduction in incidents. Some suggested that to ensure the rule is cost-effective, OSHA should target industries with the highest prevalence of incidents. They felt that for companies who already have effective programs, the OSHA standard will have minimal additional cost, but also minimal benefit.
- Another participant reminded OSHA to consider that new standards and requirements can result in innovation. Such new technologies can lead to large increases in production, generating additional an unexpected benefit.
- One stakeholder wondered how a mandatory Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule would impact companies participating in VPP. Currently, they argued, receiving a VPP star is a marketing tool, rather than a cost. They urged OSHA to consider that making Injury and Illness Prevention Program mandatory could diminish the value of those companies that have made an investment in VPP.
- One participant noted that the health care industry already has extensive training requirements, which are causing employees to leave the industry. If the OSHA standard includes additional training requirements, the industry will continue to become less appealing.
4.5 Additional Remarks and Questions
- One stakeholder expressed concern that the standard will not be effective for target companies. They argued that OSHA mainly targets large companies for enforcement but that most of these already have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program in place. Unsafe small businesses will rarely be inspected because of limited enforcement resources, resulting in a standard that offers minimal improvement to overall safety.
- Another participant suggested OSHA define the term “unavoidable employee misconduct,” to mean violation by an employee of a comprehensive and sufficient Injury and Illness Prevention Program. If the employer has implemented an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program and an employee chooses to violate its provisions, then the employee should be liable, rather than the employer.
- In response to a question, OSHA stated that its economic analysis will treat as costs only those components that an employer is missing. If an employer has some but not all elements in place, OSHA will not include the full costs of implementing the program.
- One participant expressed concern about the logistics of arranging for employee participation when employees are rarely in a central location. Another participant suggested looking at how the airline industry deals with this issue using tools such as “crew resource management.”
OSHA representatives thanked the stakeholders for their participation. Ms. Dougherty emphasized that the stakeholder input will really help OSHA formulate the standard. She reiterated that the rulemaking is in the early stages and it is difficult to predict the timing of the release of the standard. Mr. Seymour requested that stakeholders at companies using an Injury and Illness Prevention Program and interested in volunteering for site visits contact OSHA. Alternatively, Mr. Seymour mentioned that volunteers could remain anonymous to OSHA by dealing directly with a contractor. Mr. Seymour described the procedure for formally submitting comments. Interested parties can provide documents and other information to OSHA. Any information used by OSHA in the preamble will be added to the docket once it is opened.
* * * *