The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking to modernize, improve and expand the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs, which recognizes employers and employees committed to safety and health-related best practices. Since its introduction in 1982, the program has attracted participation from a variety of organizations in many industries.
The agency will hold a stakeholders meeting June 15 in Washington, DC, to discuss possible changes to the program after soliciting feedback earlier this year about what is working well and what could be improved.
OSHA is interested in various perspectives in stakeholders’ answers to questions, such as:
- Are there leading indicators for measuring future performance of safety and health management systems?
- How can OSHA encourage more employers to apply?
- Aside from current customer experience surveys, how can OSHA solicit more frequent and timely feedback on the program?
- Beyond the OSHA Challenge, how can the agency increase the use of effective safety and health management systems by companies not in the VPP?
- How can OSHA improve the program’s quality or integrity?
- Given OSHA’s limited resources, how can the agency expand the VPP more efficiently?
- In what ways can safety and health consensus standards be used to create pathways for companies to participate?
The VPP recognizes employers and workers in both private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates that are lower than national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. The idea is for management, labor and OSHA to work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses through a system focused on hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; management commitment; and worker involvement.
The program is effective at reducing injuries and illnesses at participant worksites and reducing the number of employees’ days off, according to OSHA. In 2020, the average VPP worksite had a case rate that is 53% below the industry average for non-construction participants and 60% below the industry average for site-based construction and mobile workforce participants, according to the agency.