An Accident Prevention Program (APP) is a written document that explains how to identify hazards in the workplace and how to mitigate those hazards. The state of Washington mandates that all employers create these documents. An APP must be specific to a particular business and it must cover a variety of safety topics listed by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). In addition to the minimum requirements we recommend you implement above the minimum things like PPE, Arc Flash Labeling, glow in the dark tape, and 5S policies to fully organize the area.
Basic Requirements of an Accident Prevention Program
A typical APP must explain the following topics:
Additionally, workplaces must either have safety committees or safety meetings (depending on the size of the employer). Employers are also required to train employees about hazards, enforce safety protocols, and make sure policies are effective.
Why Is It Important to Have an Accident Prevention Program?
To be compliant with the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), an APP is required. This type of plan can prevent pain and suffering for workers and their families. Having a guidance document such as an APP in the workplace can also have added benefits, though, including fewer costs related to accidents and lower workers’ compensation premiums.
Hidden Costs of Accidents
Accidents come with direct costs (such medical payments) as well as indirect costs (such as damage to equipment, lowered employee morale, and time spent training replacement employees). Often these indirect costs are far greater than the direct costs, even though it’s easy to overlook them. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this number can be up to twenty times higher than the direct costs of an accident. Having a detailed APP can help businesses avoid these costs.
Lower Workers’ Compensation Premiums
When accidents are avoided, a business’ insurance premiums can also decrease. New businesses are charged for workers’ compensation insurance based on industry averages, but those fees can increase or decrease depending on whether a company frequently experiences accidents.
Don’t Settle for Minimum Requirements
Lack of an APP is one of the most frequently cited WISHA violations in Washington, according to L&I, so it’s important a plan includes WISHA’s basic requirements. L&I’s publication “A Step by Step Guide: Your Accident Prevention Program (APP)” explains not only how to meet the state’s requirements, but also how to expand an APP so it’s more comprehensive and consequently more useful for employees.
Methods for Improving Your Accident Prevention Program
The publication lists improvements for an APP document such as including management’s commitment to safety, steps to involve employees, and more detailed information in each of the required sections.
The PDF gives employers the resources they need to excel in safety and includes many sample plans and forms that can be modified to suit a specific workplace. These documents—which would be useful tools for employers in any state to consult—can serve as the foundation for a solid safety program and help make safety policies easy for everyone in a workplace to understand.