The head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stated that passing regulations to make it mandatory for employers to have injury and illness prevention programs (IIPPs) will be a top priority for the agency in 2013. The reason that IIPPs have become a primary focus of OSHA is that the agency is trying to minimize the number of workplace injuries and deaths each year; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12 employees are killed everyday while working in the U.S., and upwards of 3.3 million workers suffer from severe work-related injury or illness each year.
While 15 U.S. states already have legislation that makes these programs mandatory, in other states where IIPPs are not legally required, some businesses have already voluntarily adopted them in order to:
- Reduce the rates of employee injuries and workers compensation claims
- Reduce their insurance premiums
- Receive workers compensation premium reductions from state governments that offer them.
According to a white paper issued by OSHA, some of the benefits of employers having injury and illness prevention programs in place include:
- Reducing the number of employee injuries by between 15 and 35 percent when compared to businesses that don’t have IIPPs
- Reducing the number of workers compensation claims by between 52 and 80 percent for small businesses who participate in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)
- Reducing businesses’ human resources and administrative burdens and workloads, which can free up staff to be working on other important matters
While some critics have argued that the cost of implementing injury and illness prevention programs may be incredibly burdensome for small businesses, Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, has retorted that small businesses who are looking to save costs can implement a “bare bones” program that will still meet the basic requirements but won’t cost an excessive amount of money. The bottom line, according to Michaels, is that IIPPs can be tailored to fit the needs of a business while still taking steps to protect employees.