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Report: California Program has Little Effect on Worker Injuries, Fatalities

While safety standards listed under the state Injury and Illness Prevention Program typically improve safety, the commission said it's unclear whether state mandates cause employers to be safer than companies that voluntarily implement such practices.

January 19, 2012
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California's Injury and Illness Prevention Program has had little impact on reducing worker injuries and fatalities in the state, according to a report from the California Commission for Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation.

The commission released a draft of the study Jan. 19. The IIPP program, implemented in 1991, requires California employers to create a written safety plan that addresses safe work practices, employee safety training and procedures for correcting hazards, among other provisions.

Two-thirds of IIPP violations in California involve employers who did not have or implement a written safety plan, the commission said. However, it found that those firms tended to have better safety records than companies who had no IIPP violations.

Companies that had IIPP plans but violated other requirements of the program saw a 26 percent decrease in worker injuries the year after their citation, the report said.

However, that reduction only resulted in an average annual decrease of 0.29 injuries for a company with 30 employees and 0.96 injuries for companies with 100 employees.

There also was no improvement in worker fatality rates in California after the IIPP was implemented in 1991, the commission said.

While safety standards listed under the IIPP typically improve safety, the commission said it's unclear whether state mandates cause employers to be safer than companies that voluntarily implement such practices.

"Firms may do as little as they can get away with and, depending upon the enforcement effort, that could include doing nothing at all," the report said.

Sheena Harrison writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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