Douglas Ehlke Douglas Ehlke

Development of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs—Part 1

July 1, 2014

Employers can find and fix workplace hazards prior to any employee being hurt by adopting an Injury and Illness prevention program (I2P2). Such programs seek to reduce the rate of injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace. California, Washington and now Federal OSHA promote the use of I2P2 programs.

These six core elements appear in any effective I2P2 program:

• Management leadership

• Worker participation

• Hazard identification and assessment

• Hazard prevention and control

• Education and training

• Program evaluation and improvement

When an employee becomes injured or ill, the employer often must pay the direct costs of that worker’s injury or illness, which can be significant. A worker’s lost wages and medical expenses, usually paid through worker’s compensation insurance, can drive up an employer’s insurance premium. In 1998, the costs for U.S. employers for most disabling workplace injuries approached $37.1 billion. That number soared to $53.4 billion in 2008. According to the National Association of Social Insurance (NASI), in 2009 worker’s compensation benefits for all compensable injuries and illnesses rose to $53 billion.

In addition to direct costs associated with an employee’s injury or illness, employers also face several indirect costs, such as:

• Wages paid for absences that worker’s compensation did not cover;

• Work stoppages (stopping work to assist an injured/ill employee);

• Training of replacement employees;

• Administrative work (filing of claims and reports, investigations, assisting families of the injured party);

• Lost productivity due to new employees’ inexperience and/or accommodation for injured employees; and

• Damage to material, machinery or property during the incident.

How can an I2P2 program help? Research shows that effective implementation of an I2P2 program can:

• Revolutionize the workplace safety and health culture;

• Reduce injuries, illnesses and deaths;

• Lower workers’ compensation and other costs;

• Improve company morale and communication between management and workers;

• Enhance the company’s image; and

• Improve company processes, and the products and services provide to customers.

I2P2 programs have been shown to reduce workplace injuries by 15 to 35 percent. Just a 15-percent reduction level would save $9 billion annually in workers’ compensation costs.

Next month we’ll discuss the voluntary I2P2 procedures OSHA is pushing for in-settlement agreements to enforce these procedures as mandatory (since I2P2 programs are not currently required). We also will discuss documentation hurdles and implementation costs associated with I2P2 programs. MF
Industry-Related Terms: Core
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Safety


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