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Employers who pay attention to occupational safety and health issues know full well that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has hoped for many years to create a standard requiring employers to adopt illness and injury prevention programs. These programs—often referred to as I2P2 or IIPP—are proactive processes designed to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt or fall ill on the job. Although OSHA has been unable to promulgate such a standard on the federal level, California has required since 1991 that certain employers adopt such programs. All too often, however, employers with limited operations in the Golden State are not aware of this requirement. Employers that fail to comply run the risk of a citation, particularly if Cal-OSHA shows up to conduct an inspection after a workplace injury or an employee complaint. The agency may then not only issue a citation under the applicable hazard-specific standard, but also look to tack on an IIPP violation. Additionally, Cal-OSHA may use the IIPP requirement to impose fines on the employer even if no hazard is found during its inspection.

To comply with the California standard, an IIPP must be written and must:

  • Identify the person or persons with authority and responsibility for implementing the safety program;
  • Include a system for ensuring that employees comply with safe and healthy work practices;
  • Include a system for communicating with employees on matters relating to occupational safety and health, including provisions designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of hazards at the work site without fear of reprisal;
  • Include procedures for identifying and evaluating workplace hazards, including scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices;
  • Include a procedure to investigate occupational injury or occupational illness;
  • Include methods and/or procedures for correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, work practices and work procedures in a timely manner;
  • Provide training and instruction to all new employees, to all employees given new job assignments for which training has not previously been received, whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are introduced to the workplace and represent a new hazard, and whenever the employer is made aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard; and
  • Train supervisors to familiarize themselves with the safety and health hazards to which employees under their immediate direction and control may be exposed.

Cal. Code Regs. § 3203.

The above requirements vary for employers with fewer than 20 employees and for those that are in industries designated as "high hazard." All employers, with the exception of local government entities, must keep records of all training and inspections done pursuant to their IIPP. If you have any questions about illness and injury prevention programs in general or what you need to do to comply with Cal-OSHA requirements, please call Thomas H. Petrides at +1 (424) 204 7756 or your Vedder Price attorney with whom you have worked.

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Thomas H. Petrides