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Release Number: 09-693-NAT
June 18, 2009
Contact: Diana Petterson
Phone: 202-693-1898

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA begins evaluation of Voluntary Protection Programs

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced that it will address problems identified in its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) in response to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs: Improved Oversight and Controls Would Better Ensure Program Quality. The report recommends improved oversight and additional controls to ensure participating companies maintain effective workplace safety and health management systems.

OSHA also has announced that it will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its VPP and Alliance Program to determine how the agency should best allocate its resources among cooperative programs, enforcement and the agency's other activities.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab said he agrees with recommendations made in the GAO report. GAO's analysis recommended that OSHA strengthen the program's oversight activity, documentation and other aspects of program operations and impact to ensure consistency and adherence to existing OSHA policies and procedures. VPP participation encompasses more than 2,200 worksites covering more than 800,000 workers.

"We will thoroughly review the VPP and Alliance Program to determine their effectiveness as well as review the programs' roles in helping the agency promote the safety and health of America's workers," said Barab.

He noted that OSHA had not adequately addressed the findings of the GAO's 2004 report, OSHA's Voluntary Compliance Strategies Show Promising Results, But Should Be Fully Evaluated Before They Are Expanded. "The report noted that OSHA had not fully evaluated the effectiveness of its cooperative programs and was therefore 'limited in its ability to make a sound decision about how best to allocate its resources,'" said Barab. "Our evaluation of these programs in the context of OSHA's limited resources will help ensure that OSHA will be able to reprioritize these resources in the most effective manner."

To address the most recent GAO report's findings and recommendations about the VPP, OSHA will review and address problems including program management and oversight policies and procedures; documentation policy for actions taken in response to fatalities and serious injuries at VPP sites; and goals and performance measures for the VPP and internal OSHA controls that ensure consistent compliance with VPP policies by the agency's regional offices.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) upon request from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.


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