Special Government Employees Program

Bringing an Industry and Labor Perspective to the VPP Team
OSHA 3222-12N 2004

VPP and its SGE Program

The OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) began in 1982 to recognize workplace excellence in promoting worker safety and health. The basic premise of the programs is cooperation among labor, management and government. VPP recognizes outstanding efforts to implement effective safety and health management systems.

The Special Government Employees (SGE) Program was created in 1994. As the popularity of VPP grew, OSHA needed additional personnel to conduct on-site evaluations for new and existing VPP participants. With the assistance of the VPP Participants' Association (VPPPA), the concept of "qualified volunteers" or SGEs was developed. By using SGEs as on-site evaluation team members, OSHA can significantly leverage its limited resources, gaining safety and health expertise and the perspectives of labor and industry representatives. In return, SGEs have an opportunity to understand the OSHA perspective and observe best practices in safety and health implemented at many VPP applicant and participant worksites. Today, hundreds of trained VPP SGEs take part in this innovative program.


OSHA VPP Special Government Employees are:
  • Qualified safety and health professionals and industry employees who volunteer to assist OSHA.
  • Supported by their company to participate in the SGE Program.
  • Sworn into government service (take the same oath as federal employees).
  • Accorded the same protections as federal employees while serving as SGEs.
  • Enlisted to serve a three-year term.

The Role of a VPP SGE

The VPP approval process requires applicants to submit a comprehensive application and undergo a rigorous OSHA on-site evaluation of their worksite. OSHA then conducts an on-site evaluation to assess the applicant's safety and health management system. The evaluation team includes an OSHA team leader, specialists and SGEs with expertise in safety and health. Participating VPP worksites are re-evaluated every three to five years.

VPP SGEs serve under OSHA's direction as on-site evaluation team members. Specific SGE responsibilities include:
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of the written safety and health management system and supporting documents.
  • Conducting site walkthroughs.
  • Conducting formal and informal employee interviews.
  • Helping to prepare the written VPP Onsite Evaluation report and sharing findings and recommendations.

VPP SGE Eligibility

To become a VPP SGE, an individual MUST:
  • Be employed at a VPP worksite or at the corporate headquarters of a company with multiple VPP sites.
  • Obtain management support for their SGE activities.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and experience in applying OSHA regulations.
  • Demonstrate experience and leadership in performing VPP activities.
  • Display positive interpersonal skills.
  • Be physically able to do the assigned tasks.

Additionally, all VPP SGEs are required to attend a three-day OSHA training course that provides an overview of OSHA's VPP SGE Program and the roles and responsibilities of SGEs. OSHA provides this training free of charge.

How SGEs Benefit from the Program

SGEs enjoy many benefits by participating in the VPP SGE Program, such as:
  • Working alongside OSHA personnel and sharing perspectives on safety and health.
  • Meeting and networking with highly qualified safety and health professionals.
  • Learning firsthand by observing best practices in safety and health.
  • Exchanging valuable information, experiences and lessons learned with VPP applicants and participants.
  • Earning CSP and CIH certification points after successfully completing the VPP SGE training course and a VPP on-site evaluation.
  • Taking OSHA training courses at OTI free of charge.

How to Apply for the SGE Program

Candidates for OSHA's Special Government Employees Program are required to submit an application before the 15th of January, April, July or October of each year. Late applications are held until the next submission deadline.

Approved VPP SGEs may participate on VPP on-site evaluation teams once they are sworn in until the end of their three-year term of service. At the end of three years, reapplication is required to continue SGE service.

Qualified individuals from approved VPP sites in states under Federal jurisdiction or in states with OSHA-approved State Plans may apply and be approved as SGEs by OSHA.

For an application or more information on becoming involved in the VPP SGE Program, please contact:
Voluntary Protection Programs
SGE Coordinator
U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA
(202) 693-2213
SGE Sponsors

A partial list of companies that sponsor their employees as SGEs includes:
  • AK Steel
  • American Ref-Fuel
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical, LP
  • Delta Air Lines
  • DynMcDermott Petroleum
  • Entergy Corporation
  • Ferro Corporation
  • General Electric
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Huntsman Corporation
  • International Paper
  • Monsanto
  • Olin Corporation
  • Rohm & Haas
  • Solutia, Inc.
  • Superior Industries
  • Tropicana
  • United Space Alliance
  • Valero Energy Corporation

"I have had the opportunity to see other excellent safety and health programs and share program ideas and enthusiasm while working with OSHA personnel and sharing perspectives on safety and health."
Marty Rose, SGE Participant
EHS Supervisor
Ferro Corporation
"This [experience] has been an eye-opener and has provided me with invaluable opportunities that have changed my perspective on how one can safely work in any job capacity."
Belinda Ralston, SGE Participant
Operator, Safety Facilitator
Chevron Phillips Chemical, LP
OSHA 3222-12N 2004

Occupational Safety
and Health Administration

U.S. Department of Labor