By Joshua M. Henderson and Ilana R. Morady

Seyfarth Synopsis:  One of the unique elements of Cal/OSHA is a requirement that ALL employers have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). 8 CCR 3203.

Despite the IIPP requirement being “on the books” since 1991, many employers in California still do not have an IIPP. In fact Cal/OSHA issues more citations under the IIPP standard than any other standard — thousands each year — many of which are for complete failure to have an IIPP. During an inspection, one of the first documents a Cal/OSHA inspector will ask for is the employer’s IIPP, and failure to have one can carry a penalty up to $25,000.

A common misperception is that certain employers do not need an IIPP. For example many employers assume they don’t need one if they have a low-hazard establishment, like a professional-services office, or employers who only have a few employees. To the contrary, ALL employers with establishments in California, regardless of size or industry, are subject to the IIPP requirement.

So what is an IIPP? It’s a simple written workplace safety program that is meant to protect your employees. But not just any written workplace safety program. Cal/OSHA requires that an IIPP include 8 essential elements:

  1. Responsibility
  2. Compliance
  3. Communication
  4. Hazard Assessment
  5. Accident/Exposure Investigation
  6. Hazard Correction
  7. Training and Instruction
  8. Recordkeeping

Importantly, even if you have a general safety and health program, if it’s not a written program that explicitly covers the foregoing 8 elements, Cal/OSHA will likely take the position that you do not have an IIPP.

Further, to be effective your IIPP must:

  • Fully involve all employees, supervisors, and management
  • Identify the specific workplace hazards employees are exposed to
  • Correct identified hazards in an appropriate and timely manner
  • Provide effective training

There are some limited exceptions in the IIPP regulation, but they pertain to the content of the program or how its implementation is documented.  There is no exception to the requirement that an IIPP be established, implemented, and maintained.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.