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OSHA Revises Voluntary Protection Programs' Benchmark Injury and Illness Rates
In a Federal Register notice published December 8, 2003, OSHA announced a change in one of the numerous performance measures that it uses to assess Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) applicants and participants.

VPP Star, the highest level of achievement in the agency's prestigious recognition program, is limited to companies that have implemented comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems that protect all employees. One way OSHA measures a worksite's success is by comparing its injury and illness rates to industry average rates - benchmarks -- published annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Until now, to receive VPP Star approval or reapproval, an applicant or participant must have had 3-year injury and illness rates below the most recent year's BLS industry rates. The new policy provides that an applicant's or participant's rates must be below at least 1 of the 3 most recent years' published rates. For construction applicants, the revisions affect qualification for both VPP Star and VPP Merit.

NOTE: The 2003 Federal Register notice has been superseded by the January 9, 2009 Federal Register notice that revised VPP, but the benchmark rate changes continue to apply. The 2003 notice is useful for its discussion of these changes. See Revisions to the Voluntary Protection Programs To Provide Safe and Healthful Working Conditions.