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  Compliance Assistance Reaches Out
A new program at OSHA's Omaha Area Office gives
VPP companies an opportunity to share their experience
with companies that need it most
A new compliance assistance program started at OSHA’s Omaha Area Office is helping companies with above-average workplace injury rates for their industries turn around bad track records.

Doug Fletcher from the Omaha Area Office, left, chats about his office's program with fellow compliance assistance specialists Mike Minicky from the St. Louis Area Office, center, and Dave McDonnell from the Wichita Area Office.It offers companies on OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting list for high workplace injury rates full-day safety and health workshops, where representatives from the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) explain how they developed and implemented exemplary safety and health programs in their companies. The VPP representatives share real-life examples of their successes and failures, the obstacles they faced, the benefits they realized, and the value the effort added to their companies.

In addition, OSHA safety and health professionals provide information about safety and health standards and compliance issues. Representatives from the Nebraska Workforce Development-OSHA 21(d) Consultation Group explain their program and the onsite consultation services they offer.

Doug Fletcher, the compliance assistance specialist for the Omaha Area Office who coordinates and runs the "SST/VPP Best Practices Workshops," said they promote open, informal discussion among presenters and participants. He’s been impressed with how generous the VPP company representatives have been in sharing information, from explaining how they conduct job hazard analyses to providing copies of checklists they developed to conduct self-inspections and accident investigations. Some VPP companies have agreed to serve as mentors for participants on the SST list. "It’s an example that among people seriously committed to the principles of VPP, safety transcends competition," Fletcher said.

So far, more than 300 representatives of almost 200 companies have attended four workshops in Omaha and Grand Island, Neb. The sessions focused on management commitment and employee involvement in safety and health programs and the worksite analysis element of effective safety and health programs.

Impressed with the novel approach to helping companies on the SST list improve their safety and health programs, other OSHA area offices have started offering SST/VPP Best Practices Workshops, too. "The program is proving to be a very positive, non-threatening way to reach out to the companies that need it most," said Fletcher. JSHQ