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Injury & Illness Prevention Plans: What you need to know

By: Bobby McIlquham

September 16, 2014

Over the past several years, we have seen significant increase in the construction industry, bringing a growth in contractor competiveness, thus pushing employees to higher demands. This ultimately exposes workers to greater hazards with the pressures to meet certain deadlines. With that being said, employee safety must be at the forefront to complete projects in a timely manner.

Companies across the country stress the importance of employee safety in all aspects relating to job responsibility and demands. Yet, too often employees and upper management over look certain hazards that exist. Thus, hazard recognition is not being applied throughout the duration of the project.

Safety has become a culture in which we, as individuals, must accept in order to continue keep the workforce to stay safe and to go home safely each day. One important aspect in which companies are successful in employee safety is promoting an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).

Why do we need injury and illness prevention programs? On average, more than 12 workers die on the job, resulting in over 4,500 deaths a year. Every year, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.  This accounts for nearly $40 billion dollars per year (Occupational Safety & Health Administration). Most of these injuries and illnesses are preventable and in order to bring these numbers down, prevention must be a focus to all employers.

Nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate reported for 2012 continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2011, occurred annually for the last decade (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Chart 1

Chart 2

 

These charts demonstrate a significant decrease in nonfatal occupational injury and illness incident rates from 2008 to 2012. This shows that industries are reducing overall numbers from days away from work, job transfers, medical expense, etc.

 A major factor that has played a role in these declining numbers is companies are not only implementing an Injury and Illness program but, companies are enforcing their safety protocol. IIPP are broken down into many key factors that include:

  • Worker Protection
    • Protecting your workers is the forefront of the program
  • Management Commitment
    • Must stand by the program; giving insight to a guided program process.
  • Responsibility
    • Compliance
      • Routine inspections of the jobsite, ensuring employee performance is in compliance with State and Federal laws.
    • Hazard Recognition
      • Identifying all exposed hazards and correcting them in a timely manner.
    • Incident/Accident Investigation
      • Conducting the investigation as quickly as possible, involving witnesses and other trades in the affective area.
  • Communication
    • Providing information back to superiors and upper management as the project progresses.
  • Employee Involvement (buy-in)
    • Creates overall moral between employees, supervisors and upper management with the demands that are brought forth to each individual. 
  • Employee Training
    • Periodic training/retraining on a routine basis.

These aspects are key factors to your IIPP. Implementing these factors into your program will show success. These items can help your company with a lower direct and indirect cost from insurance claims, lost wages, potential OSHA fines and lost productivity. How will these numbers be lower?

Protecting your workers should be a concern on every jobsite from a safety and health standpoint, with hazards that exist. Delegating responsibility to certain members (experienced workers or supervisors) to the IIPP will give them focus to certain attributes to stay on top of the overall meaning of the program itself. Identifying/ controlling hazards and disciplining employees who perform unsafe acts that are against the established policies is key to having a successful program through routine safety inspections.

Those established tie into the communication process through involvement with field employees and supervisors. Field employees are the frontrunners to the program. They are exposed to the greatest demands which are brought forth to them. With that being said, communication from the employees to supervisors must be taken in consideration when evaluating the program’s success.   If a problem occurs with a certain job task, that communication must be brought to upper management immediately from the supervisor to solve the situation, thus educating the employee’s safety factor. Once that communication has been brought back to the employee, this shows that the employee has been included in the program, thus bringing employee buy-in. This creates improved better moral to all field employees, showing that they are being heard when a problem or situation arises.

By implementing these simple factors into your program, your IIPP will be successful, will reduce overall direct and indirect cost associated to worker compensation claims, medical cost and litigations. It creates better business to your company when bidding on future projects. 

 

 

References

News Release (November 2013). Bureau of Labor Statistics-United States Department of Labor. Retrieved from

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf

 

United States Department of Labor. Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Retrieved from

https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/safetyhealth/implementation.html

 


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