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Inspections | Voluntary Protection Programs

OSHA’s VPP controls are insufficient: report

December 19, 2013

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Washington – OSHA lacks sufficient controls to ensure worksites in the Voluntary Protection Programs maintain “exemplary occupational safety and health systems,” according to a Dec. 16 report from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

Participants in VPP are recognized for voluntarily going above and beyond OSHA standards, and are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections. In the OIG report, inspectors found 13 percent of participants remained in VPP despite having an injury and illness rate greater than industry averages or being cited by OSHA for violating safety and health standards.

Participants with greater-than-average injury rates also were allowed to stay in VPP for up to six years, according to OSHA policy, which OIG said raised “serious questions as to whether the companies were fully protecting their workers.”

OIG offered several recommendations to OSHA for improvements, including:

  • Re-evaluate the policy allowing worksites with high injury rates to remain in VPP for up to six years.
  • Establish a control to address worksites with greater-than-industry-average injury rates.
  • Establish a system to analyze inspection information for continuous VPP improvement.

In response, OSHA administrator David Michaels agreed with the recommendations, but asserted that the “vast majority” of VPP worksites have exemplary safety management systems.