OSHA's Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels, issued a stark warning to attendees of the recent VPPPA National Conference that the fate of OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) was in jeopardy. As reported by Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN), Dr. Michaels stressed that the current federal funding formula did not make allowances for the popular program.
Dr. Michaels shared his understanding that a House Appropriations subcommittee was ready to fund VPP at about the $3 million mark, but that the Senate was prepared to cut all funding. OSHA, Dr. Michaels stated, wants to see the program continue and asked that the VPPPA, OSHA, and other interested parties work together. He also stated his support for a fee based initiative, if that helped preserve the program's viability.
ISHN also reported that VPPPA chairperson R. Davis Layne has urged members to "contact our congressional representatives in support of Senate Bill 3257 (S. 3257) to codify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). S. 3257 will not only support and expand the program, especially for small businesses, but it will eliminate the idea of a user-fee system for VPP.”
Glenn Trout, President and CEO of MSDSonline and a board member of VPPPA's Region V, echoes Layne’s call to action, saying, "If we want VPP to continue and succeed, we must be proactive. I've seen first-hand the good VPP can do and when used effectively, it's an important tool for driving employee safety in the workplace."
According OSHA's website on VPP, the program "recognize employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries."
"In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement. To participate, employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals."
"VPP participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs. VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status."
You can learn more about VPP on OSHA's website and stay tuned to MSDSonline for the latest updates.