It has been approximately two years since the Department of Labor announced its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” compliance strategy, with the basic goal to “ensure employers and other regulated entities are in full compliance with the law every day, not just when Department inspectors come calling.” We thought that it would be interesting to take a quick look back over the last two years to see how some of the key DOL agencies did in fulfilling their promised action items. The attached Special Report looks back at the activities of OSHA, OFCCP, and the Wage-Hour Administration under Plan/Prevent/Protect.
OSHA is poised to release to the public its initial regulatory approach to its Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) rule. OSHA has announced that it will begin the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act (SBREFA) process for its IIPP rule, at which time the Agency will likely make public a draft regulatory text and some preliminary analyses of the costs and benefits of the rule.
The Agency’s oft-stated most significant regulatory priority has been under development in the Agency for over two years. Even so, most stakeholders have no idea what a federal IIPP rule will look like. Will it look like California’s IIPP rule? Or will it take some other approach to requiring employers to establish safety and health management systems in the workplace?
Most safety and health management systems have some form of the following elements, implemented to proactively address hazards in the workplace:
- Management Leadership
- Employee Participation
- Hazard Identification and Prioritization
- Hazard Control
- Education and Training
- Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
OSHA’s draft proposed rule will likely integrate some form of these elements. Of course, the real challenge for OSHA is to take these broad concepts and turn them into mandatory requirements, which can be broadly applied to employers in all industries and of all sizes. OSHA must also attempt to craft a rule that does not disrupt existing employer programs that may be working. However OSHA deals with these issues, it is important for stakeholders to watch OSHA’s rulemaking closely and actively engage OSHA on what will work and not work with respect to a proposed IIPP rule.
OSHA is 40 this year and the Agency is looking back on its history and "celebrating" its accomplishments. OSHA recently issued a timeline that stretches all the way back to December 29, 1970, when the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed, and highlights Agency accomplishments up to the present.
Not surprisingly, the timeline is heavily populated by regulatory actions and standards issued by the Agency. Rules varying from asbestos, to grain handling, to Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories are highlighted. Interestingly, the timeline highlights a non-federal OSHA rule as well - California's adoption of an ergonomics standard in 1997. OSHA does not mention that it finalized its own ergonomics standard toward the end of the Clinton Administration, which was later rescinded by Congress under the Congressional Review Act. OSHA also highlights the start of several voluntary compliance programs, such as its Voluntary Protection Program, its training and education grants, and the development of its safety and health program guidelines in 1989.
As for OSHA's recent accomplishments, the list includes a few, notably OSHA's proposed initiative to require employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. "I2P2" seems to continue to be OSHA's signature regulatory initiative, however, stakeholders are still waiting for the Agency to begin the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act process for the proposal and as the timeline attests, it has been almost a year since OSHA announced this initiative. The list does not include major enforcement initiatives issued recently, such as the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and OSHA's Administrative Penalty Increase Memorandum.
Stakeholders should check OSHA's timeline out -- it is worth the read!