How to Avoid a Cal/OSHA IIPP Violation

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California employees enjoy rights and protections not available to workers in other states. A U.S. News and World Report study placed California in the lead for the title of “Best State for Worker Rights.”

That’s the good news.

California employers know that great achievements do not come cheaply, however. They are subject to some of the toughest labor laws in the nation. Companies that fail to follow those mandates are vulnerable to stiff fines, increased fees related to workers’ compensation, and cash-draining legal entanglements.

The California Division of Occupational Safety (Cal/OSHA) enforces the standards that protect workers in the state. One regulation in particular – the Injury Illness and Protection Program (IIPP) – consistently draws the most violations.

Our aim in this article is to unpack the requirements of the California IIPP mandate to help safety directors and other members of the management team lesson the chance of being found noncompliant.

After all, at the heart of IIPP is a desire to enhance worker safety. That’s something we can all wholeheartedly support.

What Is the Cal/OSHA IIPP Regulation?

The general duty clause of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to their employees.”

In California, the Injury Illness and Protection Program (IIPP) is the primary driver of that effort. It requires employers to develop an approved plan for recognizing and addressing on-the-job hazards. In effect, the IIPP catches all situations that are not identified in a specific Cal/OSHA regulation and acts as an umbrella for related requirements.

What Are the Requirements of the Cal/OSHA IIPP Regulation?

IIPP requirements are listed in Title 8, Section 3203, of the California Code of Regulations (CCR). In essence, the law directs employers to develop a written program to enhance workplace safety.

The current law mandates employers to do the following:

  1. Identify the person(s) charged with implementing your IIPP
  2. Develop a system to ensure employees heed “safe and healthy work practices”
  3. Enact two-way safety and health communication channels that keep employees informed and provides a means for them to report hazards
  4. Conduct periodic inspections to identify and evaluate workplace hazards – whether unsafe conditions or unsafe practices

There are special instructions in the code for companies employing fewer than 10 workers, those who had an IIPP in place on July 1, 1991, local governments, and others.

“Establishing safety as a value rather than a priority tells our employees and our customers that safety is built into our culture, not something we do to merely comply with regulations.

Our excellent safety performance over the past seven years has been a key factor in reducing our insurance cost. Our low EMR [Experience Modification Rate], incidents rates, and SHARP Management System have impressed our customers and, in many cases, was a key factor in selecting Parsons to perform their project.”

– Charles L. Harrington, Chairman & CEO, Parsons Corp.

Source: National Safety Council.

How Can Businesses Leverage the Benefits of An Effective IIPP?

While it is not unusual for management to see the IIPP as just another paperwork nightmare, statistics show there are advantages to taking the IIPP seriously.

A 2007 study found that top-level executives know by experience that effective workplace safety programs boost productivity, reduce costs, increase morale, and provide other benefits. Each dollar invested in workplace safety is judged to provide more than a 400 percent return on investment.

OSHA provides other resources on the benefits of workplace health and safety efforts on their Business Case webpage. You can find links to other studies, white papers, calculation tools, and other pertinent references there.

There’s an important qualification to note, however:

Although the California Injury Illness and Protection Program   can seem simple to write and manage, they often get filed away and forgotten – until the safety inspector visits the facility.

A 2016 review found that 93 percent of the sites visited by a Cal/OSHA task force were not in compliance with labor laws. Those violations brought $2.5 million in total fines to the affected companies

It is also important to know that IIPPs must be fitted to your specific business. They are not a one-size-fits-all set of instructions. At FACS, we employ workplace safety specialists to help our clients comply with IIPP requirements and reap the benefits of a well-written, properly-managed safety and health initiative.

Like the executives in the study mentioned above, we know by experience that the effort and budget you devote to your IIPP can return your investment many times over.

For answers to your questions about IIPP requirements, call the FACS team.