John L. Henshaw
VPPPA 18th Annual Conference
September 9, 2002
Our successes are significant; but more needs to be done.
- Thank you, Paul. I am delighted to be here to celebrate with all of you our 20 years of partnership and 20 years of success in safety and health.
I'd like to also thank and recognize June Brothers, the National Board Chair, the National Board and the Regional Chapters. Your partnership with OSHA is truly appreciated.
- 2 decades ago, OSHA recognized that many companies were doing a good job in protecting their workers against injuries and illnesses ? and some workplaces were doing an outstanding job.
- So the agency made a promise to those companies in the forefront.
- We promised that we'd forge a new cooperative relationship.
- We promised we'd forego inspections in favor of evaluations, and
- We promised we'd work together to foster excellence in safety and health in every industry and in every area of the country.
- 20 years, two months, and a few days later, I'm here to report, we've delivered on that promise ? and so have you!
- It's been said, "Promises may get friends, but it is performance that keeps them." It is your performance that has sustained and expanded this program. And I applaud you for your dedication to excellence.
- As individual workplaces, as corporate groups, and as an association, you've achieved great things. OSHA is grateful for your partnership and proud of your success.
- You serve as models of excellence.
You share best practices with others.
You mentor companies seeking to emulate your achievements.
You extend our resources as Special Government Employees.
And you provide us with invaluable labor and industry perspectives.
- In fact, the partnership has been so successful that it is difficult to remember a time when we weren't working together to protect America's workforce.
- Let's take a moment to reflect on the past?the promises and pledges that have been fulfilled.
- VPP has a storied history. For 20 years, the program has balanced convention and innovation in its continued quest to foster excellence. Let me recount a few of the significant milestones along the way.
- 1982: OSHA launches VPP and awards the first VPP sites - 3 Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics sites.
- 1985: The VPPPA holds its first annual conference. 70 participants came to Washington and one corporate sponsor paid the bill on a single credit card. ?.Look around you?how far we have come!
- 1986: California becomes the first state with an OSHA-approved VPP. Today, 23 Plan States and territories have VPP.
- 1987: 24 Mobil Chemical sites achieve Star. Mobil ran a full page add in the Wall Street Journal, challenging other sites to achieve STAR.
I think now is a good time to repeat this message to the business community.
- 1989: OSHA published the 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. These guidelines continue to provide a road map to other worksites on how to save lives and prevent injuries and illnesses.
- 1993: It took 11 years?but VPP recognition goes to the 100th worksite - Milliken and Co. in Georgia.
- 1994: OSHA launches the Special Government Employee (SGE) Program --- A first for a government regulatory agency.
- 1997: Federal worksites become eligible for the VPP!
- 2000: VPP now includes 500 worksites.
- Some may ask, "Why VPP?" "Why does OSHA continue to recognize the best of the best?"
- We do VPP because it keeps people whole and reduces human suffering. Every worker has family and loved ones. We do it so we can send workers home in the same condition that they came to work.
- We do this because we prevent fatalities and reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.
We all know that VPP sites have injury and illness rates that are half the size of other workplaces in their industries.
Based on this fact, VPP sites may have avoided almost 60,000 Lost Workdays injuries since the program's inception. Hypothetically, this could mean 120,000 recordables avoided.
Imagine the avoidance of human suffering for the workers and their families.
- That brings us to today. And VPP continues to increase its impact on worker safety and health.
- Take a look where we were in 1982?just 9 sites!
- Today, there are 864 VPP sites - 623 in the federal program and 241 in state programs.
- The number of industries represented has nearly tripled since 1982? to 111.
- And, in our 20th year, Hawaii has become the 20th state with VPP.
- We can be proud of a great many accomplishments.
- The VPPPA Mentoring Program is going strong, matching VPP mentors to potential VPP applicants. .
- The VPP concept continues to spread beyond OSHA to other Federal agencies.
- DOE was the first to follow our footsteps?
- Others, like the EPA, have launched a program to recognize industry leaders.
- Both OSHA and EPA have recognized some in this room. They have demonstrated that lives and the environment can be saved while still making a profit!
Last year in New Orleans, I stood before you and challenged the Association to work cooperatively with OSHA to meet several specific goals.
We agreed to tackle together some of the most challenging issues of today ?
I'm proud to report, that together, we have made great progress on these goals.
- such as increasing SGE's?.
- such as providing better service to non-English speaking workers ?
- such as working together to improve safety and health at worksites that appear on OSHA's Site Specific Targeting List?
- and such as increasing the number of small businesses in VPP ? and
First, we met our joint goal to increase the number of SGEs by 100 within one year. Significantly expanding VPP depends on having many more SGEs. By the end of this month, we will have trained more than 100 new. That brings our total to nearly 250 SGEs.
Second, we set out to improve worker safety and health for hard-to-reach groups such as immigrant workers.
We're concerned about Hispanic workers, because although workplace deaths declined overall in the year 2000, deaths among Hispanic workers rose 12 percent.
An OSHA/VPPPA task force was formed and created a database of bilingual SGE's. We look forward to working with these individuals to find new approaches to reach non-English speaking workers.
The Association published VPP participant best practices for addressing safety and health for non-English speaking employees through the latest edition of the "Leader Magazine," and the VPPPA Intranet, "On The Wire."
The Association agreed to help us reach out to participants identified on the Site Specific Targeting list.
Our final joint challenge was to double the number of small businesses in the program over 3 years.
We have made progress towards this goal: the number of small businesses in VPP has grown by 14% since last year.
- Over the next 2 years we need to help additional small businesses achieve the excellence required for VPP participation.
- I have some ideas in this area that I will share with you in a few minutes!
Now we need to chart our path forward
In the year 2000, 111 million workers working in seven million workplaces experienced 5.7 million injuries and illnesses and nearly 6,000 deaths. These statistics must not stand. We must do better.
Over the past 20 years, VPP has fulfilled the promise of excellence pledged by those who agreed to participate in this unique, innovative partnership. Now our task is to draw many others along this path.
We have all seen VPP's impressive track record.
But there are only a few more than 850 VPP sites. Eight hundred fifty out of the seven million businesses in the U.S. In fact, VPP sites only represent approximately one out of every 10,000 companies in America.
But WHAT IF achieving VPP was not the exception, but the rule?
WHAT IF the program grew to 8000 worksites?
WHAT IF just one percent of U.S. businesses joined VPP and experienced the same dramatic decrease in injury that you have witnessed first hand over the last 20 years?
- Look at the potential injuries avoided in just one year.
- Look at the potential cost savings for businesses?the economy, in just one year.
Together, our job is to chart the path from here to there. To ask "WHAT IF?" And to turn a question into a quest for answers.
First, we need to significantly increase the number of worksites in the program. Now I know what some of you are thinking?.How can we expand the program while maintaining its quality and integrity? How can we expand without watering down the requirements? Well, we must and we will.
In fact, we met with the Association in July and came up with some strategies. I'd like to share these with you now.
We also need a way to recognize corporations with a corporate commitment to VPP and with multiple sites in the program. We should streamline procedures for these corporations -- corporations with internal VPP processes -- to bring new sites into the VPP. And we will do this.
- We need an entry level program for the VPP?a program for those worksites that are committed to workplace safety and health, committed to implementing effective safety and health management systems and committed to continuous improvement.
- This "jump start" program would engage many worksites that want to do the right thing but need some assistance, a boost ?a "jump start".
- We promise to deliver this program to you before we meet again!
We need to do a better job of bringing small businesses into the VPP.
We'd also like to draw upon VPP expertise in ergonomics to share best practices and success stories. We want to make this information available so others can benefit from your guidance.
- Several years ago in the New York region, OSHA ran a pilot small business cluster-mentoring program where a large VPP site mentored 4 small companies to achieve VPP status and they did just that!
- We challenge the Association to identify 10 companies, one in each region, to duplicate the success of this New York pilot between now and when we next meet.
Expanding VPP will also require more resources.
And finally, in order to expand, we need to increase our program recognition and marketing strategies to encourage more sites to go for the STAR.
- Once again, OSHA and the Association must work together to expand the pool of SGE's. And, just as important, OSHA must increase the use of SGE's on VPP onsite reviews.
- Another option is to ask other groups to help. This approach could expand our reach beyond the resources available to OSHA and the Association.
In closing, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we need to keep an eye on the past with a vision toward the 21st century.
- To this end, OSHA will implement a new recognition program for VPP sites with excellent ergonomics programs in FY2003.
- OSHA also plans to increase program exposure through increased program publicity.
- And VPPPA?how about another Wall Street Journal ad!
And as part of this celebration, I'd like to take a few moments to recognize some special individuals and sites that exemplify VPP and its contributions to workplace safety and health.
I invite those of you who are being recognized to come on stage as your name is called?
-- The longest continuously participating Star site -- Alstrom Air Pre-Heater.
-- Representatives from the first Federal VPP site -- NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
-- The company with the most sites -- International Paper.
-- The smallest business -- Curtis Lumber.
-- The largest site -- Northrop Grumman, Newport News Shipbuilding.
-- The state of California -- the first state with a state VPP program.
-- Sites that have been in VPP for 15 years or more -- the names of your companies are listed on the screen behind me.
-- The First SGE -- Mr. Paul Villane
Of special note is the fact that fourteen SGEs worked with professionals from OSHA, state plans and consultation programs at the most sacred, and perhaps, the most important worksite of any -- The World Trade Center. They helped to monitor safety and health, distribute PPE and provide technical assistance.
- -- In fact, would all of the SGEs who've helped during the past year please stand?
Those of you sitting down---we'd like to see more of you standing next year. We deeply appreciate your help.
And a special thanks to Paula White, Cathy Oliver, the National VPP staff, OSHA's 10 regions, their Administrators and their staffs who have been instrumental in VPP's success.
Let me sum up in just a few words.
Our challenge today is to take what works and grow the program so that as many people as possible can benefit from this Partnership ---
- The past twenty years have been very successful by anyone's measure and we all should be very proud of our work.
- We have seen that through Partnerships like our Voluntary Protection Programs ---
- We CAN save lives.
- We CAN reduce injuries and illnesses.
- We CAN save businesses money and increase productivity.
In this day and age, there are not many things that are certain, but there is one thing I know is FOR CERTAIN ---
- more lives saved,
- more injuries and illnesses avoided, and
- more productivity from businesses.
You, me, OSHA and the VPPPA can make a difference. LETS GET IT DONE. Lets take VPP to the next level. THANK YOU.
- the people in this room CARE about their fellow workers ---
- the people in this room know how to accomplish results ---
- the people in this room can grow the VPP so many more can benefit.