The Corner

Proposed OSHA Super-Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed “illness and injury prevention program” (I2P2) is causing considerable anxiety among employers and employer groups. OSHA itself calls the proposed rule the most fundamental change to workplace-safety standards since passage of the OSH Act.

I2P2 would require employers to identify and correct all safety and health hazards in the workplace — even those not covered by a specific OSHA standard — and establish hazard-training, accident-investigation, and hazard-correction procedures for each facility. I2P2 would apply to all employers, including those not in hazardous industries.

During stakeholder meetings to discuss the proposed rule, several employers expressed concerns about the rule’s lack of clarity and burdensome paperwork requirements. Although the costs associated with compliance would vary by industry and occupation, some employers estimated that the average cost would be about $3,000 per employee per year.

Many larger employers already perform workplace-safety audits on a regular basis. Some businesses located in California have been subject to something similar to I2P2 for a while. Smaller employers, however, simply don’t have the standing human-resource departments to readily implement I2P2. Larger employers are concerned that the rule provides OSHA inspectors expansive discretion in assessing compliance.

Final issuance of I2P2 is an OSHA priority and could happen sometime in the next few months.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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