I2P2 will empower OSHA to create “backdoor standards”

Aaron Trippler of the AIHA staff asked in a recent ISHN editorial about OSHA’s I2P2 (Injury and Illness Prevention Program) standard: “How in the heck can you oppose something that has yet to be written?” Here is the answer:

I2P2 has to be largely written already. The stakeholder meetings were held in 2010. There is a scheduled SBREFA (small business review panel) process coming up in June. What is needed is for the upcoming SBREFA panel process to occur in full transparency. Thus, I2P2 details and the OSHA logic for them can be viewed by all sooner rather than later.

OSHA should publish the I2P2 proposal that the SBREFA panel will evaluate. Further, it should publish the names of the SBREFA panel and how they were selected. Finally, OSHA should publish the full proceedings –what was said and who said it — and the outcome. We can then all be fully prepared for the planned rulemaking process.

But why should we be concerned about what OSHA has designed for I2P2? Our concerns are based on what we already know from OSHA’s public statements and from their 2010 stakeholders’ meetings.
  • The actual content and most descriptive name of I2P2 is SH&E Management Systems. These management systems are the essence of who SH&E Professionals are. However, the public’s view of SH&E professionals is that we are merely an extension of OSHA in the workplace — the onsite OSHA police. Some of our employers have that view of us as well. I2P2 will drive that public/employer adverse image of us to a more intense level.
  • SH&E professionals design and resource/manage site safety/health programs. I2P2 will empower OSHA to second guess our program designs/ management and impose citations and fines. It is another significant potential for diminishing of our professional value add image to the public and to our employers.
  • I2P2 will empower OSHA to create “backdoor standards” by compliance directive and letters of interpretation. Our S&HE professionals will have to manage compliance with these without having any opportunity to provide input to the standard from our experience. The Administrative Procedures Act and SBREFA are cleverly avoided.
  • Over 99% of the worksites in the U.S. have no SH&E staff. Without SH&E staff, the variable, soft requirements of I2P2 will be difficult if not impossible to achieve in a sustained manner. The result will be I2P2 as the new leader in the top ten annual OSHA citations list. That is what has occurred in California. What does having I2P2 as the top cited standard each year accomplish for safety/health? And there are already 40 years of OSHA standards.
  • OSHA says that I2P2 is a means to assure “effective” safety/health programs. When asked to define “effective,” OSHA is unable to. If the worksites where SH&E Professionals are employed experience injuries/illnesses or other incidents, will those be considered evidence of an “ineffective” program? Will our employers receive willful and serious citations for violations, using arbitrary definitions and measurement of “effectiveness”? What will our employers’ view be then of their SH&E Professionals’ capabilities and value add?
In summary, with our SH&E professional capabilities to identify and analyze potential risks, why should we wait to oppose I2P2 while OSHA ponders when the political timing will be “right” to reveal it? We already have the data we need to act on the high potential risk to the SH&E profession from I2P2.