- Good morning. I am delighted to join you for this daylong look at OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.
- The March 2002 VPP approval of Delta’s Technical Operations Base
Maintenance here in Atlanta was a groundbreaking event. Delta can
be proud, as we in OSHA are, of its pioneering efforts to strengthen
worker safety and health in the airline industry. By committing to
VPP, Delta managers and workers are betting that labor-management-government
cooperation, and the establishment of effective safety and
health management systems, are feasible and worthwhile goals.
- I think that’s a safe bet, given that the VPP process has a 20-year
proven track record at saving lives and preventing workplace injuries
and illnesses. Yes, VPP is a process, (not a flavor of the month
program) that works for all worksites (small, large, union, non-union,
public, and private sector). The VPP process works at a variety of
industries also. In fact there are over 200 different industry types
- VPP is not for every company, however. It is designed for companies
and worksites with a culture that values the safety and health of their
employees on equal footing with production, quality, and profits.
- Once the VPP process is adopted by a company, very few companies
drop out. Also, the VPP compliments many other quality
improvement programs such as ISO and Malcolm Baldridge.
- As the value of VPP becomes more widely understood within the
airline industry, I’m looking forward to seeing other airlines, and
additional Delta worksites, on VPP’s roster of worksite excellence.
- Why pursue VPP? While some believe that the VPP requirements are
too tough to meet, and require too much paperwork, most find that
benefits far outweigh the effort.
- VPP participants are OSHA’s advocates and role models, proving that
safety and health add value to your business, to your workplace, and
to your life.
- The value for business is clear: Focusing on safety and health
management systems is the right thing to do; it saves money and adds
value to the organization. Safety Pays: Since it’s inception in 1982,
VPP sites have saved over a billion dollars, and on average, their
injury and illness rates at 54% below the national averages for their
- Safety and health add value to the workplace as well. VPP companies
have shown that the benefits include increased productivity, higher
quality, improved morale and reduced turnover.
- And clearly, safety and health add value to your life. Anyone who has
had an on-the-job injury can tell you that getting hurt or sick is not
just physically painful. On-the-job injuries and illnesses can
significantly reduce income, increase stress and impact your family
life. But at VPP sites, the chances of getting hurt are greatly reduced.
- In 2001, by having injury and illness rates roughly 54% below the
national averages, VPP sites avoided approximately 6,000 lost
workday cases. Think about it: That’s 6,000 people who went home
to their families healthy and unharmed!
- VPP companies are helping OSHA achieve its mission. Overall, there
has been a 62% reduction in workplace fatalities and a 40% decline in
injury and illness rates over the last 30 years. In addition, injuries
and illnesses in 2001 were the lowest in 9 years! So all of our efforts are
- I am often asked…what is the key to VPP’ s success? I think a case
could be made that VPP’s extraordinary experience rests on a simple
but radical concept: labor, management, and government can work
together with amazing results. Positive, lasting relationships are
possible and are well worth the effort.
- It is this successful relationship with VPP that has paved the way to
expand OSHA’s menu of cooperative programs.
- In fact, improving voluntary programs and partnerships as well as
expanding outreach, education and compliance assistance efforts
through alliances are at the top of Assistant Secretary Henshaw’s
- Because of this OSHA is building strategic partnerships, alliances,
and new compliance assistance strategies to reach a broader range of
industries and locales, as you can attest.
- To assist employers and employees in these new cooperative ventures,
we are improving existing and developing new compliance assistance
tools to help identify workplace hazards and develop systems of
prevention and control.
- These include an improved web page and e-tools; availability of
compliance assistance specialists in every area office and hosting our
second annual compliance assistance conference in June of this year.
- VPP has an important role to play in this effort. So let’s talk about
what VPP has accomplished and what we need to do now.
- We are fast approaching the end of our yearlong celebration of VPP’s
20th anniversary. We’ve taken the time to look back and see just how
far we’ve come. VPP has grown from only 11 participants in 1982 to
951 current participants in both federal and state plan VPP.
- In addition, VPP participants cover 208 different industries and almost
- VPP will reach 1,000 participants within the next few months!
- But OSHA covers 7 million sites so VPP’s 951 sites represent a tiny
fraction of the whole, not even 1%, only 1/100th of 1%. We need
many, many more sites turning onto the road to excellence.
- So OSHA challenges the airline industry: As part of our alliance, help
us make a quantum leap from fewer than 1,000 participants to 8,000,
and also expand the VPP into the airline industry.
- Many of you may have heard Assistant Secretary John Henshaw
announce this vision. And I can tell you that if you convince even one
company to strive for VPP, Mr. Henshaw will be grateful.
- Let me tell you about steps OSHA is taking to meet this VPP
challenge and provide you with the tools you need to help us.
- We are committed to expanding the Special Government Employees
(SGE) program. This is a unique program where OSHA trains
personnel from approved VPP companies. They then volunteer to
assist OSHA on VPP onsite evaluations of other VPP applicants or
participants. This is a way that our VPP companies give back to us.
Currently there are 306 trained SGEs nationally. We trained just over
100 new SGE’s last year, and plan on doing the same this year.
- Tools are also available through the Voluntary Protection Programs’
Participants’ Association (VPPPA) including free mentoring, and
other products, workshops, and conferences. In fact their national
conference is being held in Washington, DC the week of September
12th. I encourage you to attend.
- We want to see more small businesses in VPP. We’re nearing
completion on a small business kit jointly developed by OSHA and
the Association. We’re almost ready to publish.
- We’ve greatly improved the VPP tools that are available to the public
including a new VPP web page. From this web page you can
download the new VPP Policies and Procedures Manual, Application
Brochure, and Report Format.
- In addition, OSHA VPP Managers are available in every OSHA
Regional Office. They are available to give VPP presentations to
appropriate persons within your company to help sell the VPP idea.
- As we look at ways to expand VPP, we are exploring opportunities for
an entry-level program to assist companies who want to be on the road
to excellence but need extra help or a road map to get going. Perhaps
some of you would be interested in piloting this new program. In
addition we are exploring new strategies for corporations and
- I am confident that through this alliance, we can spread the word
throughout the airline industry: Positive labor-management-government
relationships make a difference. We have seen how these
relationships lead to safety and health excellence. We are saving
lives, and preventing injuries and illnesses at across the nation.
- So please seriously consider VPP as a process to improve safety and
health in your workplace. Become part of the VPP family and be
recognized by OSHA for being a leader in safety and health. With
VPP recognition comes prestige, a competitive advantage, opportunity
to networking with the best, and an improved relationship with
OSHA. Shouldn’t the airline industry be able to take advantage of
these benefits? I sure think so!
- Thank you for your commitment, your enthusiasm, your continual
striving for excellence, and your model relationship with OSHA. I
look forward to continuing to work with you through this alliance and
expand VPP through out the airline industry.