OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Trade News Release
Monday, July 24, 2000
Contact: Bill Wright
PHONE: (202) 693-1999
OSHA REVISES VOLUNTARY PROTECTION PROGRAMS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced changes to its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) that expand the number of eligible worksites and raise the level of achievement required for participation.
The revision of the 18-year-old program also makes VPP criteria conform more closely with OSHA's voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. Those guidelines, published in 1989, provide effective criteria for managing safety and health programs.
"VPP's cooperative approach to safety and health excellence, its emphasis on safety and health program management and its success at lowering worksite injury and illness rates will be enhanced with the revised requirements we're announcing today," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "We have improved the substance, language and organization of the requirements to make an already good program even better."
The most notable changes in the revision include an expansion of eligibility to types of workplaces previously not covered, increased expectations concerning the management of the safety and health of contractors' employees working at VPP sites, and a new illness reporting requirement. The reporting change means OSHA will consider a worksite's illness experience together with its injury performance when assessing the site's level of achievement.
The reorganization has resulted in merging VPP's previous six elements into the four elements of the Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, which are Management Leadership and Employee Involvement; Worksite Analysis; Hazard Prevention and Control; and Safety and Health Training.
Highlights of the changes to VPP include:
VPP eligibility has been extended to resident contractors at participating VPP sites.
At unionized sites, all authorized collective bargaining representatives must concur in VPP participation (previously, such concurrence was required only at sites where a "significant portion" of employees worked within a collective bargaining unit).
To be eligible, a site must not have open investigations or pending or open contested citations/notices under appeal at application (previously only willful violations during the past three years disqualified a site).
Sites must now report a combined injury/illness rate. At Star sites, the three-year injury/illness total recordable cases incidence rate and the three-year incidence rate for cases involving days away from work and restricted work activity must be below the industry average. This raises the level of excellence expected of VPP sites.
Qualifying smaller worksites may use an alternative method of calculating injury/illness rates to help qualify for the Star program (e.g., using the best three out of the most recent four years of injury/illness experience).
Requirements for contract worker safety and health at VPP sites have been strengthened; new requirements to report contractor injury/illness rates have been added.
Both employee involvement and worksite analysis requirements have been strengthened and clarified.
OSHA will no longer differentiate between managing safety and health at general industry and construction worksites. (Previously, OSHA required safety and health committees at construction sites).
To help strengthen site programs, the Occupational Health Care Program now includes the use of occupational health care professionals in worksite hazard analysis.
The Merit Program has been strengthened to ensure that Merit sites work to achieve Star quality within three years. (In certain circumstances, OSHA may approve a second Merit term, e.g., in unanticipated unique circumstances that slow the participant's progress).
Frequency of onsite evaluations of participating sites has been changed to help conserve OSHA resources while ensuring program integrity. For example, at Star sites with lower risk potential, OSHA will be able to conduct onsite reevaluations at intervals of five years, instead of three.
When corporate audit documents are needed to establish a site's qualification for VPP, OSHA will request (not require) review of such documents that a site voluntarily chooses to provide in support of its application.
The revision clarifies that "other significant events" (in addition to workplace complaints, fatalities and catastrophes) may trigger VPP reevaluations, regardless of whether injuries have occurred.
OSHA may terminate a VPP site if the agency has evidence that trust among labor, management and OSHA no longer exists.
The revision establishes termination procedures, including a site's right to a written appeal.
The VPP was first adopted by OSHA on July 2, 1982, to recognize and promote cooperative action among government, industry, and labor in addressing worker safety and health issues, and to expand worker protection. The program centers on comprehensive management systems with active employee involvement to prevent or control the safety and health hazards at a worksite. The program's three levels include: Star, the most prestigious program for companies with excellent safety and health programs; Demonstration, for companies with excellent safety and health programs that have innovative features OSHA desires to evaluate; and Merit, for companies with good programs attempting to reach Star level.
Revisions regarding approval of Demonstration sites to Star status, and alternative rate calculations for small worksites are effective immediately. All other revisions announced today will become effective on Jan. 1, 2001.
The revised VPP requirements appear in the July 24, 2000, Federal Register.
The text of this news release is on the World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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