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OSHA Trade Release
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Contact: Layne Lathram
Phone: (202) 693-1999

Change Will Take Into Account Fluctuation in BLS Rates

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking comments on a proposed revision to its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) that would change the benchmark injury and illness rates used to determine whether VPP applicants and participants meet the rate requirements for the VPP Star Program. This change would also apply to the requirements for construction applicants' qualification for the Merit Program.

One way that OSHA determines the qualification of applicants and the continuing qualification of participants in the VPP Star Program, the most challenging participation category, is to compare their injury and illness rates to industry rates -- benchmarks -- published annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For Star eligibility, rates must be below the benchmark BLS rates.

Currently, the benchmarks are two rates from the most recent year's BLS industry averages for nonfatal injuries and illnesses. The OSHA proposal would change those benchmarks to require that to qualify for the Star Program, applicants' and participants' rates must be below the two BLS industry rates for at least one of the three most recent years published. This change would also allow construction sites that do not meet Star rate requirements to be considered for the Merit Program if company-wide three-year rates are below the proposed benchmark rates.

OSHA has been concerned for some time about the effect on some VPP applicants and participants of substantial fluctuations from year to year in a limited number of BLS industry rates. In some industries, it is not unusual to have annual rate fluctuations of 20 to 30 percent and more. It is not clear why some national rates fluctuate to this degree. The effect of these rate fluctuations is to create an unpredictable moving target that, in any particular year, may not fairly represent the injury and illness situation in an industry.

This proposed revision to the VPP is intended to lessen the effect of the BLS rate fluctuations by allowing the agency to use one out of the three most recent years of published BLS rates as its benchmark for Star qualification.

The Federal Register notice seeking comments will be published on Friday, July 25, 2003. Comments on the proposed changes must be submitted by August 25, 2003. They can be submitted online to OSHA's docket office at: , or paper copies of comments and all attachments may be submitted in triplicate to OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. C-06, Room N-2625, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210.

OSHA is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit


U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7773 or TTY 202-693-7755.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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