I2P2The White House should move forward immediately on OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) rulemaking, said Rick Pollock, president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), in a May 16 letter to President Obama.

Taking action on the program – which Pollock pointed out has been “stalled” in the Obama administration – would be “an appropriate response” to the deadly April 19th fertilizer plant explosion in West, as well as a game changer that would significantly improve employers’ attention to the occupational hazards that claim workers’ lives each year.

“Instead of the current interaction that focuses far too often on the smallest details of compliance to specific rules, an I2P2 standard could better focus both regulator and employer efforts on the most important risks in each workplace,” wrote Pollock. “This regulatory approach, already used by our key trading partners across the world, would more closely align with the best practices of our profession and the risk-management practices of the nation’s best employers with proven track records of success in protecting workers.

“Despite its promise, this rulemaking is stalled in your Administration.”

The proposed standard would require every employer to develop an I2P2 program to identify safety and health risks in each workplace and establish specific controls to manage those risks

Stakeholder meetings on the rulemaking were held in June 2010, and the Department of Labor’s latest Unified Agenda stated that the SBREFA process was to begin in January of this year.

“A national debate on that standard is much needed and long overdue,” Pollock wrote.

He noted that the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is a reminder that in spite of significant advances in workplace safety in the U.S., this nation is not immune from incidents that result in multiple deaths in workplaces.

“But we also must remind ourselves that, every day, this nation loses nearly thirteen Americans in its workplaces, a number that nearly equals the loss of life in West. Unlike the tragedies in West and Bangladesh, though, these are deaths that typically occur one at a time, out of sight, and in incidents that rarely receive the public’s attention. Yet each loss impacts families and communities no less terribly than those that gain front page headlines.

“It is appalling that, in our modern society, we are not doing our best to stop this daily tragedy.”