Developing Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Programs for Your Organization

September 22, 2022

How to Develop a Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Program – Chemscape Safety Technologies

The use of management systems is a critical part of a workplace injury and illness prevention program. We know these programs are effective at reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. OSHA encourages employers to develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

Federal OSHA standards mandate written safety and health programs, based on the hazards at the worksite, for example, a hazard communication program if chemical hazards are present or a respiratory protection program if airborne health hazards are present.

Inspectors frequently request a company’s safety program during inspections, but there is no federal requirement for an all-encompassing “safety program”.  Talk of a federal OSHA Health and Safety Management System or “Injury and Illness Prevention Plan” standard has not materialized.  

Employers have a moral and legal obligation to develop a Health and Safety program for their employees. Prevention programs provide the foundation for breakthrough changes in the way employees identify and control chemical hazards, leading to a significantly improved workplace health and safety environment.

Key Elements of a Health and Safety Management System

According to OSHA, a health and safety management system (HSMS) has the following key elements:

Management Leadership.

Your health and safety management program needs to outline the leadership over the program, list the resources for the program, set goals, and verification.  

Worker Participation.

You should outline policies for reporting safety concerns, investigation, and response. Other elements include workplace inspections, investigating incidents, and reviewing/improving training programs.  

Hazard Identification and Assessment.

This can include a chemical inventory, job tasks, air sampling, employee concerns, previous inspections, or past incidents.    

Employee Education and Training.

Employees need to be trained on the hazards and prevention controls in their workplace. Supervisors need to be trained on their responsibilities and the enforcement of safety rules.  

Hazard Prevention and Control.

Hazards need to be identified or anticipated. Management gathers and evaluates information about controls, prescribes appropriate controls, and ensures they reduce risks to the lowest acceptable level.  

Program Evaluation and Improvement.

The performance of the program needs to be tracked, including metrics on inspections, hazard reports, recordable injuries, and illnesses. Part of the program evaluation should include a comparison of injuries and illness prevention programs with other companies in the same industry as well as communication to contractors, a major source of workplace injuries.  

Benefits of a Health and Safety Management System 

HSMS are seen favorably by OSHA as an effort in good faith to proactively address employee health and safety. HSMS may also help to prevent further action by OSHA to expand inspections. An HSMS can be seen as a useful tool in the settlement of pending citations. 

California Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP)  

California OSHA requires employers to maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP). There is significant overlap to OSHA’s Safety Health Management System guidance with a greater emphasis on employee access to the program documents as well as input into the implementation. 

Creating an Action Plan to Reduce Rates of Occupational Injuries and Illness   

Occupational health professionals tell us that employers can reduce their rates of occupational injuries and illnesses by examining the hazards in their workplaces and developing strategies to reduce them.  Safety management systems can formalize these strategies. Chemscape’s highest level of software, CHAMP (Chemical Hazard Assessment and Management Program), is an extension of our sdsBinders software.    

Based on CHAMP customer feedback, implementing CHAMP provides the foundation for significant changes in the way employees identify and control chemical hazards, leading to a significantly improved workplace health and safety environment. Systematically prevent injury and illness from chemicals using CHAMP: 

  1. Identify and rank all the chemicals in your inventory in an easy-to-understand hazard band.    

  2. Record how the chemical is being used and where.   

  3. Generate a risk assessment that recommends controls for each task.   

  4. Use tools to implement control recommendations across your worksites including:   

    1. SmartChart posters to educate workers on chemical use

    2. Secondary labels

    3. Autogenerated exposure control plans, codes of practice, written HazCom plans     

  5. Maintain and enforce a list of company-banned products.  

  6. Search for safer alternatives with less health and environmental risk, as well as find alternatives in the event of supply chain disruption.  

Implement CHAMP at Your Workplace 

Chemscape supports each CHAMP implementation with a Certified Industrial Hygienist who coaches EHS leadership, encourages worker participation, and consults on hazard identification and assessment, as well as hazard prevention and control. CHAMP includes ongoing education and training, and program evaluation metrics and improvement.   

Based on the positive experience of employers with CHAMP, using CHAMP contributes to fewer worker injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. In addition, employers will improve their compliance with existing regulations and will experience many of the benefits of implementing an injury and illness prevention program including a safer and healthier workplace and reductions in workers’ compensation premiums. Reach out to us today to discuss implementing CHAMP at your workplace.