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OSHA Voluntary Protection Plan Introduction

Written by Steve Hudgik

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The OSHA Voluntary Protection Plan (VPP) is an effective safety and health management program that recognizes and promotes the efforts of employers and employees who have achieved outstanding safety and health records. In the OSHA VPP, management, labor and OSHA establish a partnership that results in a comprehensive and effective safety and health management system in each participating workplace.

Organizations must apply to the OSHA VPP. OSHA then approves qualified workplaces to one of three VPP programs:

  • Star - recognizes sites that have distinguished themselves with the highest level of safety and health excellence.
  • Merit - is a program for organizations that are not qualified for STAR level, but appear to be close to qualifying. Merit sites must agree to specific goals for enhancing their safety and health program to meet Star requirements and are evaluated onsite annually.
  • Star Demonstration: Recognition for work sites that address unique safety and health issues.

How Does VPP Work?

What VPP does is to establish performance-based, measurable criteria for a managed safety and health system. Workplaces are invited to apply, and they are then assessed against these criteria.

Once a site applies for participation in the VPP they enter a rigorous process that examines management; safety and health training; leadership; employee involvement in safety; work site safety analysis; and hazard prevention and control. There will be a comprehensive onsite review by OSHA to evaluate the workplace safety and health program and to interview employees.

Workplaces that are accepted as STAR must then submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic onsite re-evaluations to remain in the program and at the STAR level.

How Has VPP Improved Worker Safety & Health?

The results seen by those who have joined OSHA VPP are impressive. On the average VPP work sites have a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate that is 52% below the average for their industry. It's not that these workplaces started out with a low DART case rate. The reduction in injuries and illnesses began when the workplace committed to the VPP approach to safety and health management and started the OSHA VPP application process.

How Does VPP Benefit Employers?

Workplaces see fewer injuries and illnesses, and that means greater profits as workers’ compensation premiums plummet. In addition, the Voluntary Protection Plan (VPP) saves money by reducing the cost of injuries, accidents, downtime and safety/health related litigation. But the effects are more wide reaching. Not only do individual organizations benefit, but entire industries benefit as VPP sites evolve into models of excellence that influence the practices of an entire industry. When others in an industry see the competitive benefits of VPP, they recognize that to remain competitive they must take similar steps.

OSHA Voluntary Protection Program - OSHA Web Site

Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association - VPPPA Web Site

U.S. Department of Energy VPP Web Site

Tri-National Working Group of Government Experts on Workplace Safety and Health - VPP Web Site

U.S. - European Union Cooperation on Workplace Safety and Health - VPP Web Site

The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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