John L. Henshaw
Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association
19th Annual Conference
September 8, 2003
Big Dreams, Big Challenges
- Good morning. Thank you ---------. It's great to be here. I hope you all take advantage of being here in our Nation's Capital to spread the word about the value of VPP.
- You know -- a year ago we celebrated together the 20th anniversary of the Voluntary Protection Programs. We looked back at that time on two decades of partnership -- of real social and economic value -- of lives saved and injuries and illnesses avoided. And we looked forward to the future of more cooperative programs -- of a greater impact on the working men and women of this great country -- of greater "value add" to our economy.
- I asked you then to envision new opportunities to tackle a challenge and help us save more lives and avoid more injuries -- to grow the Voluntary Protection Programs from 800 to 8,000 sites without compromising the existing program's quality and integrity.
Create New Programs Within VPP
- As former Secretary of State George P. Shultz said, "You've got to dream a little bit if you're going to get somewhere."
- Now some of you may have thought I was dreaming when I shared that vision. But this is not an impossible dream. Together, we can assure we do not deny the American people the value VPP brings.
- Today I'm going to announce three initiatives we've developed to achieve this vision of greater safety and health in more workplaces across the country.
- First the vision. Within OSHA, our vision is to create a work culture in America in which every employer and employee knows that safety and health add value to businesses, workplaces, and people's lives and that they take appropriate steps to realize that value every day.
- We want to take wherever an organization is on the ladder of safety and health performance ... foster real and effective continuous improvement ... a progression upwards ... a rung at a time if necessary ... helping and encouraging them to reach for the stars.
- We want to use ... strong, fair and effective enforcement, ... education and assistance ... and cooperative and voluntary programs ... the tools Congress gave us ... to achieve our vision and we know VPP is one of the most effective ways to get there.
- And we want to build on the strong foundation we have established over the years with VPP ... without sacrificing principles of excellence, or compromising the quality and integrity of our existing programs.
- I know we all will agree that VPP adds so much value we can not deny workplaces, who qualify, the opportunity to participate and grow into in the programs. SO we want to expand VPP in ways that will best utilize all our resources.
- We want to expand VPP to ensure that value is achieved on a continuous basis while companies working their way through the program do not find it unduly burdensome ... but yet continue to grow and achieve even greater results.
- We want to recognize and take greater stock in existing workplace and corporate efforts and factor those efforts into the qualification process.
- And we also want to build Voluntary Protection Programs for the construction industry. VPP must have a program that recognizes the needs and unique features of the construction industry, and encourages construction participants to climb the ladder of safety and health excellence and recognize them when they get there.
- I am excited to announce today three new initiatives in order to expand our Voluntary Protection Programs. OSHA's staff with input from the VPP-PA and other stakeholders, will pilot three new products to accompany our existing VPP programs.
- We'll work with you -- the VPP-PA and others -- to flush out the details of each of these programs. Then they will become a permanent part of our portfolio of VPP programs.
- While maintaining the quality and integrity of VPP STAR and MERIT, we plan to multiply program participation -- get more facilities that deserve recognition for their safety and health performance recognized -- get more establishments on the ladder of improved safety and health performance -- and encourage more and more facilities to make the commitment to safety and health and strive for excellence. Because after all, -- our purpose is to markedly improve workplace safety and health across this country. Think of the possibilities. If we reach the vision of 8,000 sites covering about 4 million workers, we will create tremendous value. Based upon the success of our existing programs, we could save countless lives, avoid as many as 91,000 recordable cases and save this country over $2.5 billion in today's dollars.
- Workplaces will not only be safer and workers healthier, morale, productivity and quality will also improve.
- I can think of no greater achievement. ... no greater contribution ... no more rewarding work for OSHA and the VPPPA.
- Now how will we plan to do this? We are introducing three new pilot programs -- the three C's of VPP-VPP Challenge, VPP Corporate and VPP Construction.
- First, VPP Challenge. This program will provide a place within the VPP family for sites willing to make a commitment to continuous improvement -- a commitment to improve and move up the ladder towards excellence. This is a place where they can get some recognition for their commitment to put effective safety and health management systems in place and strive for superior performance.
- Our goal with VPP Challenge is to get companies moving up the ladder and reaching for the stars.
- Working with the VPPPA and other stakeholders, we developed a flexible approach to expanding VPP that will be open to any private or public sector employer -- regardless of where they are on the safety and health ladder.
- We are well into the process of defining how this program will work. The key will be providing a roadmap for incremental achievements today to ultimately reach VPP excellence tomorrow. The program will outline actions and outcomes in stages and offer OSHA recognition as each stage is reached.
- We believe VPP Challenge will be an ideal vehicle for getting more small businesses into VPP. The program will provide more focus and support for small business owners to improve their safety and health management systems and gain recognition.
- VPP Challenge will have both a general industry and construction track in order to meet the unique needs of each industry.
- We are calling on leaders in general industry and construction, -- the federal sector, and not for profit associations to assist OSHA with administering the VPP Challenge. Obviously, as we look to optimize resources, we need an effective strategy to review more applications and oversee the progress of a larger pool of participants.
- By involving corporations, not for profit associations, and other federal agencies in administering VPP Challenge, we can reach more worksites. And we can reach them at a faster pace.
- We intend to begin this pilot this year.
- I'm excited about VPP Challenge -- It has the potential to move businesses along a path leading to VPP Merit and Star and provide recognition at points along the way.
- But I'm keenly aware that OSHA needs your support, and the support of the VPPPA and its Board of Directors. We look forward to an important role for the VPPPA in this new initiative.
- Let me assure you as well: We will hold true to the rock-solid principles that underlie the existing VPP programs, especially the quality and integrity of VPP Star and Merit. These will not be impacted and will not be tarnished -- you have my word on that.
- The next new initiative is VPP Corporate. The support of corporate leadership has played a key role in building the VPP programs of today. We want to call on these leaders and others to build the VPP of tomorrow. Through a new VPP corporate initiative, we will do just that.
- The new initiative will recognize corporations that make a significant commitment to safety and health and VPP, have strong corporate oversight systems to assure consistent safety and health across the organization and who commit to perform mentoring and outreach to others.
- For those who qualify, VPP Corporate will offer a more effective, more streamlined approach for these corporations to bring their sites into VPP.
- General Industry VPP STAR and MERIT are site based, and must remain that way. For some, commitment to safety and health excellence begins with strong corporate leadership and high expectations that drive superior safety and health performance. These organization should be recognized and to avoid redundancy, receive credit for effective corporate oversight.
- There are more than 30 corporations who have made a corporate commitment to VPP or have expressed interest in a corporate program that takes advantage of systems they already have in place. And the number continues to grow.
- We have reviewed applications and corporate programs numerous times, and we think a streamlined application and review process makes sense -- for the workers -- for these organizations -- for OSHA -- and for the future of VPP. VPP Corporate will enable us to work smarter and more efficiently while still maintaining the quality and integrity of STAR and MERIT.
- This program focuses on corporations committed to bringing multiple sites into VPP. It will capitalize on the pre-application work performed by these companies but the site expectations and performance will remain the same.
- Let's make this very clear -- VPP Star and Merit standards at each site remain the same.
- Just last month we met with corporate safety and health officials to flesh out more of the program criteria. We will launch a pilot before year's end.
- As we look ahead, we can envision an additional 1,000 sites brought into the program through VPP Corporate.
- For both VPP Corporate and VPP Challenge, we're looking at pilots of at least one year. Then we'll refine the concepts and make some decisions about formal additions to the VPP.
Need for Support
- Our third initiative is specifically for construction. For some time, the construction industry has been telling us that VPP needed modification to work in the construction industry.
- Over the past few years, we've run two Demonstration projects. The goal was to pilot ways to make VPP more attractive to both small and large contractors and trades. Now it's time to take what we have learned and design a VPP program that responds to the needs of the construction industry.
- There's no question that the construction industry needs VPP and its proven record of success in reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The construction industry employs about 6% of American workers, yet accounts for nearly one-quarter of the occupational fatalities.
- Today only about 3% of VPP sites are in construction. But about two-thirds of OSHA's Strategic Partnerships are with construction companies. So we know that construction companies are interested in partnering with OSHA to improve their safety and health performance.
- We also know, from our experience with these companies, that there are potential VPP candidates that already operate with exemplary safety and health management systems. We need to give them the same opportunity for recognition that we've given to fixed site employers. This in turn will encourage others to follow the same path.
- We've begun our evaluation of our Mobile Workforce and Short-Term Construction Demonstration programs. We'll share our findings with demonstration participants, OSHA's Advisory Committee on Safety and Health, the VPP-PA and representatives from the construction industry.
- Based on the evaluation and suggestions from our partners, we intend to launch VPP Construction in 2004.
- With new participants through VPP Construction, we could potentially add another 500 new sites. With VPP Challenge, VPP Corporate, and VPP Construction.
- We have the potential to double the number of sites we would reach through our current programs -- to more than 4,000. That's four times as many as we have today and halfway to 8,000 and a significant number of the VPP STAR or MERIT.
The Past Year's Accomplishments
- I hope you are as excited as I am about the future and our initiatives for bringing VPP and the safety and health protection it offers to those not currently reached. A lot of care and planning has gone into developing these three initiatives. Now we need help to flush out the details.
- As we pilot them, we will be working closely with the VPP-PA and other stakeholders to assure we maintain the quality and integrity of what we currently have and expand the impact of our programs for excellence. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions -- and your active participation and support.
- I would be remiss if I focused today only on our plans for the future of VPP -- Because a lot has been accomplished this past year.
- Last year we were talking about 800 sites in VPP. I am proud to announce today our 1,000th VPP site.
- That's correct. We now have 1,000 VPP sites.
- What kind of company would we ideally want to honor as our 1000th VPP site?
- It would be a company with a "tightly wound core" of very "high energy" managers committed to excellence in safety and health.
- It would be a company that would go a "long distance" to ensure that their employees are highly involved in safety and health.
- It would be a company with a "long and accurate drive" to achieve "high impact" results in keeping injury and illness rates low.
- And I am excited to announce that the company that is "ON PAR" with these expectations is Titleist Ball Plant 2, in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
- And let me recognize some of the representatives from Titleist who are here today.
- Eric Bartsch, VP of Golf Ball Manufacturing
- Michael Kramer, VP of Golf Ball Operations
- Jean Sutherland, Director of Health and Safety
- William Fry, Senior Director Golf Ball Manufacturing
- Please join me in a warm round of applause for our 1000th VPP site.
- I also want you to know how much we value the achievements of each site represented here today. We particularly appreciate the efforts of our Special Government Employees, who have become an essential, integral part of our VPP site assessment process.
- This year 129 SGE's helped OSHA conduct 137 onsite visits. Would all the SGE's please stand? Let's give them a warm round of applause for their role in making VPP the strong program it is today.
- We have also made a number of improvements to benefit VPP participants this year. We have updated our webpage. We've been testing a streamlined re-evaluation process for Star sites in Region 4. And piloted a streamlined application process in Region 6.
- As you know we've also been looking at Star benchmark rates. And in July, after considering various options, including suggestions from the Association, we published proposed changes in the way we use Bureau of Labor Statistics injury and illness rates when we evaluate a site's qualification for Star.
- We're now looking at responses we received during the public comment period, and I can tell you that most of the responses were very favorable, very supportive of our proposed change. We'll be making a decision soon. And we think it will eliminate a current inequity in the program.
- I stated to you last year that OSHA would "walk the walk." If VPP adds value from the safety and health standpoint -- we should be VPP. I wholeheartedly agree. We're hoping to get a pilot in place later this year.
- OSHA and the Department of Labor will be moving forward on achieving VPP recognition at 6 facilities to start. I hope many more will follow.
- We are also looking at options for promoting VPP internationally. We've been participating in an Occupational Safety and Health workgroup with Canada and Mexico with the hope of developing a tri-national VPP equivalency. I'd appreciate the support of the VPPPA as we look at this issue over the next year.
Partnership with the VPPPA
- For years, people said VPP was the best-kept secret in safety and health, and the Federal government. But you and I know that VPP is a great way to do business. The value this program adds to a business is significant. Countless lives have been saved and thousands of injuries and illnesses prevented as a result of the commitment and systems that VPP has fostered.
- VPP must not be a secret. It's time to share our success with thousands of employers and millions of workers.
- I know that VPPPA will continue to
- mentor workplaces,
- offer workshops on VPP,
- conduct wonderful national and regional conferences that motivate and provide useful information and support to employers and employees.
- We appreciate all that you do. VPP would not be as successful as it is without you.
- We are deeply grateful for the partnership of the VPPPA. We can proudly say that together we have saved lives, prevented injuries and illnesses and communicated the value of systematic safety and health management.
- We have demonstrated again and again that cooperation and trust between a government agency, American business, and American workers are possible -- and not just possible, but extremely valuable for individual workers, specific worksites and business enterprises as a whole.
- Today, we have our 1,000th site. We have three new initiatives -- VPP Challenge, VPP Corporate and VPP Construction -- providing additional vehicles to dramatically expand and grow participation. They point the way and pave the path for us to move toward our target of 8,000 sites.
- Beyond that, of course, lies our real goal -- reducing injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job in our country. That is a goal that every one of you here today has embraced.
- You have our commitment, as I know I have yours. We can achieve more expanded excellence in AMERICA'S WORKPLACES. You've proven the success of this program. Now we just need to work together to grow these achievements and reach others so they will strive for excellence as well.
- I know that working together we can create a safer and more healthful world -- that we can move from vision to reality. I look forward to continuing to work with you toward that end.
- The American worker deserves our very best.