Written by Steve Hudgik
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:
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.
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.
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
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