OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Trade News Release
October 12, 1999
Contact: Bill Wright
VPP to Expand, Raise Achievement Levels
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today called for public comment on its revised Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The changes extend participation to previously ineligible employers and raise the safety and health achievement levels expected of all participants.
Federal agencies, and certain contractors at VPP sites are now able to join the program's three levels which include: Star, the most prestigious program for companies with excellent safety and health programs; Merit, for companies with good programs trying to reach Star level; and Demonstration, for companies with excellent safety and health programs that have innovative features OSHA desires to evaluate.
"The revised VPP requirements we're announcing today clarify and strengthen OSHA's cooperation with industry and labor," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles N. Jeffress, "and emphasize the agency's commitment to reducing occupational illnesses."
OSHA will require participants to report illness rates and numbers, in addition to previously required injury data. Moreover, Star participants' injury/illness rates must now be "below" industry averages, rather than "at or below." An alternate method for calculating incidence rates will help small businesses qualify for the Star program.
Other changes require participants to track and document management responsibility and accountability in the safety and health process. This documentation must demonstrate that adequate resources are available and appropriate systems are in place for tracking and analyzing safety and health programs, including identifying and controlling hazards. Additionally, employees must be involved in at least three different active and meaningful safety and health processes.
The notice, with some exceptions, limits Merit participation to three years to assure that Merit sites work to achieve Star quality within that time frame. The revised provisions will also provide participants who receive termination notices 30 days (in most cases) to appeal OSHA's action.
OSHA expects VPP sites to participate in outreach activities that assist other workplaces and help the agency to accomplish its goals. VPP sites will report outreach efforts and success stories annually.
VPP applicants have always been required to comply fully with OSHA rules and regulations and to have the concurrence of collective bargaining agents at unionized work sites. The revision clarifies those requirements.
The notice brings the VPP language into conformity with OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, which were developed as a result of the experiences and successes of VPP worksites. Employers committed to establishing effective safety and health programs will find the guidelines a useful tool.
Public comments are welcome and must be sent (in duplicate) on or before Nov. 26, 1999 to: Docket Office, Docket C-06, Room N-2625, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments of 10 pages or fewer may be faxed to (202) 693-1648.
Comments may also be submitted electronically through OSHA's web site at the following address: http://www.osha-slc.gov/e-comments/e-comments-vpp.html. Information such as studies and journal articles cannot be attached to electronic submissions and must be submitted in duplicate to the above address. The attachments must clearly identify the respondent's electronic submission by name, date and subject.
The entire record for the proposed revisions to VPP is available for inspection and copying at OSHA's Docket Office at the address above. The Docket Office phone number is (202) 693-2350.
The revised VPP is published in the Oct. 12, 1999, Federal Register.
This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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