Your IIPP is in place. You’ve met Cal/OSHA’s regulations and are ready to present your IIPP the next time an inspector drops by for a visit. Now it’s time to bring your safety plan to the next level.
Creating a successful IIPP doesn’t stop with meeting the Cal/OSHA regulation. This is a living document that literally spells out to your employees how you intend to keep them safe and productive on the job. It also spells out how you work to prevent workplace injuries and the costs—both direct and indirect—that come with those injuries.
So how do you create a successful IIPP? We offer six steps to get you there:
1. Involve your employees
What better way to establish a workplace safety plan than to consult with and rely on those who are on the front lines every day, doing the work that keeps your operation going? Their perspective is invaluable and they can point you to hazards you might not be aware of. Ask your employees to assist not only in seeking out existing and potential hazards at your workplace, but also in establishing the steps necessary to address those hazards.
When your workers are involved in setting up your IIPP, they take ownership of the plan. They may also be willing to help lead safety meetings and to coach coworkers on the safest steps to take in completing a task. Involving workers in this process helps improve employee morale and motivates them to stay safe on the job. With improved employee morale, you not only get increased retention, you tend to have lower absenteeism, higher productivity, and improvements in work quality.
2. Upper management leads by example
You may have heard the phrase “if you talk the talk, you must walk the walk.” For small businesses, make sure you understand what’s in your IIPP and follow it. For larger organizations, you might need to get your leadership team together to review the IIPP and make sure everyone understands it and agrees to follow it.
The last thing you want is for your employees to see you violating the safety processes you and they worked so hard to put in place. First, that can damage morale. Second, if your employees see you walk into a hard hat area without a hard hat, or not wear a respirator in area where the air is full of contaminants, they may choose not to follow the rules either. You’d be sending a message that rules aren’t important. This could lead to an unsafe workplace, more injuries, illnesses, absences, claims, and costs for your business. Take the time to follow the rules, even if you need to enter the work area for just a minute or two.
3. Clearly define responsibilities and accountability for supervisors
A lot of the success or failure of your IIPP depends on how well your front-line supervisors implement their responsibilities under the program. Supervisors, including foremen and site leads, have key responsibilities for every element of the IIPP. If they don’t provide staff appropriate job specific training, employees won’t know how to perform their jobs safely. If supervisors don’t monitor for compliance with safe work practices and correct unsafe behavior when they observe it, employees will start to ignore the safety rules put in place for their protection. If supervisors don’t encourage two-way communication during safety meetings, employees won’t feel their input is appreciated or valued and they will stop caring about the success of the program. If supervisors prioritize production goals and meeting deadlines over doing the job safely, then employees can get hurt. To employees, supervisors are the most visible reflection of the safety culture of the organization. It is important that front line supervisors understand this and exhibit the same safety leadership that top managers must show.
4. Effective investigation process for accidents and near-miss incidents
One of the best predictors of a future workplace injury is one that has already happened or one that almost happened (near miss). Thoroughly investigate all workplace accidents and near misses and involve your employees too. They can provide a unique perspective as to why something happened. Being on the front line, employees can witness accidents. Our Accident/Near Miss Investigation Checklist can help you document your findings.
Your investigation should always dig down to the root cause or causes of the accident or near miss. Sure, an employee might have taken a shortcut to get the job done. But, there may also have been a malfunction in a piece of equipment that wasn’t caught, or a safety precaution hadn’t been implemented yet. And, always investigate a near miss the same way you would for a workplace injury. You might be able to identify a hazard and make changes before someone gets hurt.
Documentation is a critical part of your safety plan. Any time there is an accident or near miss, you need to establish records of what happened, what the investigation revealed, and what corrective actions were taken. These include any disciplinary actions that may have been taken for an employee who did not follow proper procedure, whether training needs to be updated, or any other necessary step to prevent the accident or near miss from happening again.
You can use the records of any accident or identification of a new hazard to update your policies and procedures as well as your IIPP. And, you can incorporate these matters into new hire training so that the next generation of employees at your workplace can also learn them, even though they weren’t around at the time an incident occurred. You can also reference the past while training your employees on how to perform tasks the right and safe way from the start.
6. Review and update
Cal/OSHA requires that you review workplace hazards whenever your IIPP is first established, when a new hazard is introduced at the workplace, when management is made aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard, when new employees begin work, and when any employee is given a new job assignment without previous training for the new duties. In all of these circumstances, you will need to update your IIPP to include identification and mitigation of newly identified hazards.
In addition, a regular review of your IIPP is also recommended. An annual review allows you to double and triple check to ensure all the provisions are met. Additionally, check to make sure corrective actions implemented after previous accident investigations are still in place. Check to see if there are any new processes, jobsites, or company functions that are not yet reflected in the current program. This is also a good time to evaluate the age and condition of vehicles and tools. Do you need to make replacements? Will replacements be needed in the next couple of years? Is there a process for phasing out older tools and equipment? As you bring in new equipment, you’ll need to make sure employees receive the proper training on those as well.
Having an IIPP that meets Cal/OSHA regulations puts you in compliance with the state and helps you avoid citations. Having a successful IIPP helps you take workplace safety to the next level, where employees are involved in establishing and maintaining a safe workplace. When employees take a lead role in important matters like workplace safety, other members of the staff will follow their lead.
Follow these 6 steps for a successful IIPP that helps your bottom line!
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.