OSHA report on VPP program aims to streamline oversight

Date Posted
Caleb Kimpel

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration made public an internal report from November of last year. The report recommends overhauls to the Voluntary Protection Programs, or VPP.

The VPP program, by which employers for “model workplaces” can avoid some inspections if they meet certain performance-based safety and health goals, has been ongoing since 1982. The report was originally submitted after a series of articles over the program criticized it for giving governmental approval to work sites that may have overlooked some key safety and health violations.

According to iWatch News, which published the series, since 2000, at least 80 workers have died at VPP sites.

The report recommends OSHA update the VPP manual to consistency in the administration of the program. It also  proposed changes to the way OSHA responds to serious accidents and how it removes worksites from VPP, among other suggestions.

“This report will serve as a valuable road map for the agency as we continue to address issues present in VPP,” Jordan Barab, OSHA’s No. 2 official, said in a statement. “In general, we agree with most of the findings of the report, and have already or will be implementing a number of substantive changes to the program based on the recommendations included.”

Other recommendations and suggestions made in the report include:

  • Discontinuation of the VPP Merit program, which acknowledges companies that do not quite meet VPP Star status.
  • Requiring participants to self-audit certain recordkeeping requirements
  • Placing companies on an “inactive” list after a worker fatality until an investigation is complete
  • Removing employers immediately who violate whistle-blower statutes
  • Looking into discontinuing the “VPP Corporate” program that allows certain companies to streamline entry into the program for each of multiple sites.
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