On June 28, Jordan Barab, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, spoke before the Congressional Education and Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Worker Protection about the successes and challenges of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
Companies that want to join the federal safety agency's top-tier oversight program must pass a series of evaluations and tests in order to be considered. Some of the criteria include injury and illness rates that are below the national average as established by the Department of Labor, commitment to line-by-line documentation reporting, implementation of comprehensive occupational health programs and adherence to all applicable OSHA standards.
"VPP is an integral part of the toolbox which the Congress has provided to OSHA to accomplish our mission," Barab told the subcommittee members. "We are extremely proud of this program and are working every day to strengthen it. VPP will continue to have the U.S. Department of Labor’s full support."
According to Barab's testimony, as of the end of May there were 2,374 VPP sites in the United States across many different industries. Participation by companies, he said, led to a 26 percent reduction in worksite-related accidents, sparing managers an average of $350,000 in citation fines per business.
He did acknowledge, however, the issues that the federal safety agency faces in regards to the VPP program, including the need for more oversight of self-regulation documentation submitted by participants and the lack of stronger performance measures in the standards framework currently governing the program.
Inclusion in the program goes beyond a shiny plaque to hang on the wall. Companies with demonstrable safety standards can become industry leaders in occupational health and may even be able to apply for better insurance policies. To learn more about the VPP's policies and guidelines, log on to the federal safety agency's website or contact your local OSHA representative today.
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