I2P2 Standard Not Far Off

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said that there’s a possibility that the agency will try to implement I2P2 before the presidential election this November.

DENVER – Plenary Session audience members at ASSE’s Denver conference and exposition were keen to know if OSHA plans to implement the Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2) standard before the presidential election this November. After being asked a few times, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said that there’s a possibility that the agency will try to implement I2P2 before the election, “but I’m not allowed to say,” he added.

In a media briefing held after the Plenary Session, Michaels was asked whether he would be disappointed if he should leave his post at OSHA before the I2P2 proposed standard is enacted. He answered that all OSHA standards take years to enact, both because of the many steps required by the federal regulatory process and because virtually all OSHA standards face legal action. “I think we’ve moved the ball forward and made this a priority,” he said.

I2P2 will require employers to have a simple safety program that maps out a plan for identifying and correcting hazards. “It’s about a process, not about abating hazards,” Michaels said.

Creating a culture of safety goes hand in hand with injury and illness prevention programs, he added. “Embracing safety culture can increase profits and help create a better product. OSHA levels the playing field for responsible employers to allow them to compete with those employers who cut corners with safety,” he said.

Also in the media briefing, Michaels commented on the significance of the recent decision by OSHRC Administrative Law Judge Ken Welsch to uphold the citations against SeaWorld of Florida LLC in connection with the 2010 death of a trainer during a killer whale show in Orlando.

“We were very pleased with Judge Welsch’s decision. Again, it recognizes that the general duty clause is an effective approach to dealing with hazards that we don’t have standards for. In some ways, it’s just one more example that OSHA can use the general duty clause in those situations where we don’t have a standard. . . . It’s no different than using the general duty clause, for example, in the Wal-Mart case for crowd safety. There are many, many hazards throughout industry that we don’t have standards for; the law is very, very clear that workplaces must be kept clear of recognized hazards.”

He said what’s important in enforcement cases is the abatement of hazards, not the amount that a cited company must pay, at the end of the day. The SeaWorld case means the employer must abate the recognized hazard of exposing trainers to killer whales — should the case go no further, that is — and the abatement is more important that whatever monetary penalty the case involves, he said.

About the Author

Laura Swift is Senior Content Editor of two magazines owned by 1105 Media Inc., Occupational Health & Safety and Security Products.

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