John L. Henshaw
Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association
20th Annual Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada
August 30, 2004
As Prepared for Delivery
Cooperative Program Growth
- Good afternoon. Thank you, Paul. I'm delighted to join you here in Las Vegas for the 20th annual conference of the VPP Participants' Association.
- Congratulations to you and the entire Association on your 20th anniversary - 20 years dedicated to the protection of workers! I know you are proud of the impact your organization has had on reducing workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses over these last two decades, and I know you join me in looking forward to another 20 years of outstanding performance..
- I salute you, and I thank you for all that you have done to partner with OSHA for the benefit of greater worker protection in America. VPP companies continue to set the bar for safety and health excellence, not only in this country but around the world.
- Whether your sites have 3 workers like International Paper's Dry Creek Woodyard in Prattville, Alabama, or more than 14,000 workers like NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL - both of which are Star, by the way -you excel in reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Whether you focus on oil exploration or golf ball manufacturing or automotive stamping, whether on the shop floor or in an office environment, you make worker safety and health an integral part of your company culture and a clear organizational value.
- And now I can say that VPP works in one more environment, one where employees face a multitude of hazards. I am delighted to welcome into the VPP family Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the first national park to achieve VPP approval.
- The results of VPP are clear. Participants consistently experience fewer than half the injuries and illnesses of others in your industries.
- The VPP flag is now a symbol of quality and integrity that others can count on when they look for companies to work with. Take E&E Manufacturing, for example - an automotive stamping plant in Plymouth, Michigan. This company decided not to move its business off-shore, but instead to focus on achieving VPP Star, which also became the means to improving quality, productivity, and business focus. They not only saved the business in Michigan, they are now expanding it and creating more jobs for the community.
- Our partners at Titleist, one of the many world-class operations we are proud to recognize and partner with - and I'm looking forward to hearing from Eric Bartsch in a little while - Titleist knows about excellence and the value of safety and health. Mike Kramer, Vice President of Golf Ball Operations for Titleist, said:
"If you view safety as a return on investment rather than a draining of profits, and you begin there, then it's easy - because we've always had a payback from safety . . . The VPP process validates that we've been putting our efforts in the right place. It's been a great recognition that we are on the right track."
- I'd like to salute some men and women here today who have been on the right track for many years. These employees represent companies that have achieved 20 years or more of VPP recognition:
Alstrom Power-Air Preheater Co., Wellsville, NY
Dupont Circleville Plant, Circleville, Ohio
DuPont Corpus Christi Plant, TX
ExxonMobil O&A, Beaumont, TX
ExxonMobil Polyethylene, Beaumont, TX
Halliburton ES, Carrolton, TX
Lozier, Omaha, NE
ExxonMobil Synthetics, Edison, NJ
Pliant, Macedon, NY
Tyco Plastics, Covington, GA
- The men and women of these companies, and every other VPP participant here, has an outstanding record and an inspiring story. You deserve to be proud of your achievements. I know I am and the entire OSHA team certainly is!
OSHA Challenge Pilot
- Because cooperative initiatives have proven to be such an effective way to reduce injuries and illnesses, I directed my OSHA team three years ago to put even greater energy into expanding VPP, SHARP (Consultation's Safety and Health Recognition Program), OSHA Strategic Partnerships, and Alliances. Not only are these programs alive and well, but, more importantly, they are changing the safety and health landscape in American business. More and more companies, trade associations, and unions are coming to the table, ready to work together with OSHA to create safer, healthier workplaces.
- Because VPP works, because VPP is where the future is, I challenged the VPP-PA two years ago to work with OSHA to grow the program from 800 to 8,000 sites. Last year, we moved a little closer to that goal as Titleist became our 1,000th VPP site.
- At that time, I also announced three new initiatives to advance VPP. We call them our three "C's": OSHA Challenge, VPP Corporate, and VPP for Construction.
- I am happy to report that, with your help, we have made significant progress on these new initiatives.
- On May 26, we launched pilots for two of our three "C's": OSHA Challenge and VPP Corporate.
- We anticipate, over the next two years, at least 100 new participants in the OSHA Challenge program, and at least 70 new participants from the VPP Corporate pilots in to VPP Star or Merit. And this is over and above new site approvals through traditional VPP Star and Merit participation process.
- This is a significant new influx of participants - especially when you consider our current growth for VPP Star and Merit has been about 100 new sites per year.
- I think we are now ready for a real growth surge. In addition to what we expect to see from OSHA Challenge and VPP Corporate . . .
- I have an announcement to make about our 3rd "C," our VPP for Construction. More about that in a few minutes.
- Now, I want to make it perfectly clear, we are not interested in growth for growth's sake. Our ultimate goal is to maintain the integrity and quality of the VPP program and prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace.
- In 2002, the 625 VPP participants under Federal jurisdiction had a total case incidence rate for injuries and illnesses that was 53% below their respective industry averages. Had they been at their national average, we estimate they would have experienced 10,532 more recordable injuries and illnesses, costing a total of 3 million dollars.
- Now, if we maintain the same performance rate, which we must, the 8,000 VPP participants will result in an estimated 96,000 injuries and illnesses avoided, and 2.7 billion dollars saved.
- With the addition of our three "C"s, and the expected surge in growth, we can begin to think realistically about such dramatic progress. Think about it: 96,000 injuries and illnesses avoided; 2.7 billion dollars saved. And I would venture to say countless lives saved and an improved economic future for many organizations.
- I know that some of you are concerned that this focus on growth will inevitably mean a watering down of the program.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I have said it before, let me say it again: OSHA is committed to maintaining the quality and integrity of VPP or we can't achieve the 96,000 injuries and illnesses saved..
- Realistically, some companies who apply for VPP won't be able to meet our standards for initial approval, nor our requirement of continuous improvement.
- We will turn down applicants if they don't meet the high hurdle of excellence. Even at reapproval time, we will if we have to tell a participant, "Your safety and health performance and management systems are no longer up to par. We suggest you withdraw." We do this now, and we will continue to maintain a high bar of entry.
- Let's talk about the OSHA Challenge pilot. This program really epitomizes that safety and health ladder I first spoke to you about in 2001 - get facilities moving from where they are to where they should be step by step. OSHA Challenge guides participants through three logical, progressive stages. Once a Challenge participant successfully moves up the ladder to the last stage, that facility could be ready for VPP Star or Merit.
- We've built two tracks into the program - General Industry and Construction - the Construction Industry has a lot to gain from this progressive movement up.
- We are piloting OSHA Challenge with an outstanding group of 10 Challenge Administrators, who will assist and encourage participants to develop stronger safety and health management systems and move through the three stages.
- Each of our 10 charter Administrators has agreed to sponsor at least 10 facilities. Twenty-three sites have already indicated, through their Administrators, that they are committed to safety and health excellence and want to begin the Challenge process. Now think about that. These 10 Administrators could help us bring as many as 100 new participants into VPP and ultimately qualify for Star or Merit.
- If we have a good experience with the pilot, and we then open the program to additional Administrators - private companies, federal agencies, and nonprofit associations with VPP experience - the potential for meaningful growth is staggering.
- And every new VPP participant means lives saved and injuries and illnesses prevented.
VPP for Construction
- The second pilot launched in May was VPP Corporate. This program aims to remove barriers faced by some corporations that want to implement VPP company-wide or at a large number of their facilities. This is the program that will be of particular interest to many VPP-PA members.
- VPP Corporate offers streamlined application and onsite evaluation processes for companies that have made a strong commitment to safety and health, and have enterprise-wide management systems to support VPP.
- What VPP Corporate does not mean is blanket, corporate-wide approval for VPP. The Corporation must first undergo a corporate pre-screening process to ensure that they have strong management systems to support the tenets of VPP and then each site still must successfully undergo an OSHA onsite review.
- The intent is to minimize redundancy and the non-value add parts of the application process in companies that have strong corporate systems.
- Six corporations-and the U.S. Postal Service - are piloting VPP Corporate. I know many more of you will be interested in this program as it evolves from pilot status to an integral part of VPP.
- We've already received the first application - from Georgia Pacific. We held the onsite evaluation three weeks ago, and I'd like to congratulate June Brothers and her staff at Georgia Pacific for being the first corporation accepted into the pilot.
- Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate June for a successful term as National Board Chair of the VPPPA. June possesses an amazing combination of technical expertise, people skills, and passion for VPP. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with her.
- We've received our second corporate application from the U.S. Postal Service, and we're looking forward to conducting the onsite evaluation within the next month.
- We expect to be seeing many Postal Service facilities participate in VPP Corporate in the months and years ahead.
- USPS executive leadership says, "The future of the postal service depends on transforming its culture and achieving excellence in all aspects of its operations. VPP Corporate is key to this transformation and will eventually lead to safer, healthier and more productive work environments for our 800,000 postal employees."
- Now for the 3rd "C" -- Construction. I am happy to announce that, just last week we sent to the Federal Register our proposal for a new program, VPP for Construction - VPPC. If everything goes as planned, our notice will be published tomorrow. We will take comments for 60 days, review them, and then publish the official program - a new member of the VPP family of programs, designed specifically for the construction industry.
- Under the current VPP structure, the focus in construction has been long-term projects. In our Short-term and Mobile Workforce Star Demonstration programs, we have been testing ways to open VPP to other kinds of construction projects.
- We've had numerous meetings with stakeholders - including the VPP-PA, their companies in the demonstration program, major industry associations, and the Building Trades - and we've worked closely with our Regional Administrators, to get a broad range of perspectives. We believe our proposal addresses most of the concerns that have been raised. We'll know better when we see the comments on our Federal Register notice.
- By the way, we're looking to VPP-PA and individual participants to provide us with the most "constructive" and "concrete" suggestions. [Pun]
- I don't want to spend too much time on details right now. But I do want to emphasize that we've tried to be extremely careful in crafting this new program. OSHA has come too far with VPP to jeopardize its integrity as we address the special circumstances of construction contractors and their employees.
What hasn't significantly changed:
What's new in the proposal:
- Safety and Health Management System requirements remain the core.
- Star, Merit, and Star Demonstration continue to be available.
- Site-based option still available for long-term projects, those lasting two or more years. We will handle applications and on-site evaluations for these projects much the way we do now.
- New option for individual corporations, divisions or business units - the acronym C/D/BU is already becoming part of the OSHA lingo.
- Applications will cover the work an applicant is "contractually responsible for" instead of a specific site the applicant controls.
- C/D/BU's will apply for approval within a defined geographic area - Current proposal is for an area no broader than state-wide, with the option to expand after initial approval if OSHA's Regional Administrator and the participant agree that this is appropriate.
- OSHA will conduct a corporate onsite evaluation, including review of C/D/BU-wide safety and health management policies and procedures, and corporate safety and health oversight strategies.
- Then we will conduct onsite evaluations for a representative sample of work. Number of onsites will depend on the number of sites/projects operating within the defined area.
- During these onsites, if the walk-through and employee interviews indicate that the safety and health systems are working well, we propose to do an abbreviated review.
- We have added quarterly updates to the requirement for annual reports to OSHA
- VPP for Construction is a shift away from an exclusively site-based focus. It will open VPP to a broad range of previously ineligible employers - subcontractors, general contractors with short-term projects, mobile workforce employers, specialty trade contractors, and construction managers.
Existing construction participants will not lose their VPP status. We're exploring ways to transfer all current construction participants into VPPC.
- VPPC approval might create a competitive edge.
- VPPC will become the standard of excellence for doing business in the construction industry.
- Many owners, general contractors, and other stakeholders already pre-qualify contractors for safety and health performance.
- VPPC will be an immediate indication of safety and health excellence.
Special Government Employees
World Congress on Safety and Health Work
- I know our new programs will encourage many, many more sites to apply for VPP. But an increase in applications means greater demands on resources.
- And that's where you come in. For the past 10 years, VPP participants have extended OSHA resources by serving as Special Government Employees on VPP evaluation teams.
- Would all those who have served in the past or are currently serving as Special Government Employees please stand for a round of applause? We really appreciate your help, and the support of your companies who make your SGE participation possible..
- This fiscal year, through July, we've had nearly 300 SGE's participate in onsite reviews. We have 414 active SGE's, and I'm going to have the pleasure of swearing in a new group later today. We're certainly proud of these numbers and what they say about your willingness to give back to the program.
- But our ability to expand VPP toward our goal of 8,000 participants is going to depend on even more help. We're going to need many, many more SGE's.
- Instead of one SGE per team, we expect to need two or three. And if you have industrial hygiene or construction expertise, we really will need you as we grow construction and other industry participation.
- We need to double or triple the cadre of SGE's. So I want to encourage every VPP participant to consider loaning someone to OSHA for at least one review each year. You know the value of the program, the SGE's know the value to them as they go to other sites, and you know the difference it can make. But we can't do it without your help.
- Recently, we formed an SGE Workgroup, with participation from Regional VPP Managers, the OSHA Training Institute, and your Association, to see how we can improve the SGE Program.
- We determined that we need to focus our efforts on improving recruitment, training, and recognition. With these improvements, and your commitment, I am confident we can successfully grow the SGE program and VPP.
- A great opportunity is coming up for VPP participants to share their experience and to learn about what's happening internationally in the field of occupational safety and health.
- For the first time, the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work is coming to the United States. It's scheduled for September 18 - 22, 2005, in Orlando, FL.
- The World Congress is a forum for international discussion and debate on all issues relating to the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses. Having VPP participants at this gathering is especially important, because, as the objectives for next year's Congress state,
"The prevention of occupational safety and health hazards can best be achieved in the global arena through partnerships between the governments, industry and labor leaders."
- Sound familiar?
- The Congress is organized every 3 years by the International Social Security Association and the International Labor Organization. The U.S. host organization for next year's gathering is the National Safety Council. The Department of Labor is supporting the World Congress and participating as an important government partner on the National Organizing Committee.
- We have been making significant progress in getting VPP recognized internationally.
- Ireland and Northern Ireland will be piloting VPP. A collaborative agreement was recently signed between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to work towards establishing a voluntary program modeled after OSHA's VPP in their respective countries.
- Under NAFTA, we are working with Mexico and Canada and exploring the feasibility of establishing a Trinational Recognition Program that recognizes companies achieving safety and health excellence in Mexico, Canada, and the US.
- Also, Holland has expressed interest in VPP and has invited us to come make a presentation to talk more about the possibility of piloting VPP in their country.
- As a nation, we have moved ahead in preserving worker safety and health on the job. For the past 22 years, VPP participants have been in the forefront of that effort. I am confident you will continue to play a leading role. VPP is a model program for the US and is becoming recognized more and more outside the US.
- The test now, as we continue our drive toward zero workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, is to add to VPP numbers. We need your help to do that. I know we can count on you to continue to build, strengthen - and expand - this amazing partnership.
- Thank you VPPPA