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Injury & Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2) and What it Means for your Organization – Part 2

Employee Participation

In our last installment, we discussed OSHA’s release of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) white paper. In this episode, we will focus on ways to achieve an I2P2 that will be compliant and bring successful results.

In the white paper, OSHA states that such a program should be mandatory, include employee participation, require commitment from the top of the organization and strive to be proactive in nature. Let’s break down those components, shall we?

Introducing a Mandatory Program

Safety should never be considered “optional”. Leadership should set clear and concise expectations surrounding the behaviors of all employees regarding safety rules and initiatives. Not unlike the idea that although the posted speed limit sign is the limit, there are people that choose to not follow the rules and subsequently, those people run the risk of getting caught and being penalized. To make things easy for everyone, safety rules and guidelines should have quick and appropriate consequences.

A great place to start to increase compliance with your workforce is through observing employee activity and engagement. First, involve the leadership team so they can see firsthand how prevalent safety infractions are. Then, involve the workers – they too need to be a part of helping point out violators and having the power to confront others for safety infractions. Just like with speeding, there are clear consequences here. So should the consequences for safety violations; consequences should reflect the violation and be consistent among all violators. When people start to see that people are “watching” and that their actions have consequences, changes in behavior and overall safety culture can take place quickly.

Employee Participation

Employee participation can be one of the more difficult pieces of the puzzle, yet it is also one of the most vital. If employees are welcomed onto the planning team, feel they are being represented and have input then they are much more likely to “buy in” to the program. In addition, if given roles of “leadership” employees may take on the role and be determined to deliver successful results. After all, we all know that employees with similar titles (e.g. on the same team, in the same dept, with the same job type) will listen to each other sometimes more than rules and regulations coming down from the top. In addition, having a variety of employees will allow for better understanding of all the issues that are faced and how different rules and regulations may impact them. For example, I was doing an ergonomic evaluation and I looked at the SOP (standard operating procedure) for a task. But then out on the floor, I saw something very different. I asked the management team about the discrepancy and was told that it is never done the way I had observed. So I went and asked the operators, and they said they never did it the SOP way. It became very clear that there was a breakdown in communication between the two groups. This example reminds us how having people from all areas of the facility is key to understanding how to best improve safety.

Commitment from the Top

This does not mean lip service. I have worked many places where the leadership team spoke that “safety is first” and they were behind all the safety initiatives. But when it came down to it, it ended with words. There was no participation in safety initiatives; there was no tolerance if safety impacted production. When designing an I2P2 plan, it is of great importance to have your leadership team completely on board – they need to be part of the process. They need to be able to bring up production concerns and also be able to turn down certain initiatives (within reason). If you can have them help guide the process and offer suggestions and be able to say if something is outside their comfort level, then you will have a better “buy in” from them. In addition, having them on board, and having them offer some feedback to the employees excelling, or addressing the violators, will increase your overall success.

A Proactive Approach is Key

Proactive, or prevention, is the name of the plan. If you are not looking at ways to prevent problems and get in front of them, then your program will not be successful. A great way to start is looking at your past. These “lagging indicators” will help you determine some of the issues facing your facility/company. ” OSHA logs and Worker Comp Injury data are a great place to start – and I do mean start! Once you can determine what injuries have occurred, you can start to develop plans to reduce the risk. For instance, if you have a lot of wrist injuries from one area, doing an ergonomic assessment of those job tasks will help to identify the issue and figure out ways to mitigate those issues.

Next, look to near-miss activities; consider yourself lucky that it didn’t happen, but do not forget these are still issues out in your workplace that need to be addressed. Once you have looked at past data, turn your sites to the “leading indicators”. Consider doing an employee survey – by asking the employees what tasks are difficult and why, as well as what symptoms they might be experiencing, you will begin to quantify areas needing immediate changes and others that are less problematic. It is vital to quantify the hazards and work towards finding ways to control those hazards.

Other ways to be proactive are thru fitness testing; are your employees biophysically fit and capable of doing their jobs? Many companies have gone to pre/post hire testing, which is great, but what about after they are hired? What about 10 years into their tenure? It really should be on ongoing process designed to protect employees from injury, but offering biophysical risk assessment testing. I have seen biophysical testing work wonders – often decreasing work injuries by 90 percent or more.

Considering the fact that aging in the workforce is a topic of great concern, and it is only set to increase, it is time to evaluate the need for continued assessments to ensure employees are able to work without being injured. Last but not least, education is another great component to prevention. If your employees do not understand the rules and regulations they will not be able to comply. In addition, if they are properly educated into the hazards and controls, they will be more likely to “buy in” and if training/education is done really well, will not only understand the reasoning but will encourage others to behave accordingly.

Designing a successful I2P2 plan is doable, and following these guidelines will help you design and plan for an effective, compliant program that drives results. After all, we have seen the benefits of an effective on-site injury-prevention program.

If you should have any questions or would be interested in talking with one of our specialists, please contact us via email or call (800) 445-3519.

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