Federal agencies Legislation Voluntary Protection Programs

Senators look to ‘cement’ OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs


Washington – Senators on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation that would make permanent OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.

Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) joined forces on April 28 – Workers’ Memorial Day – to introduce the Voluntary Protection Program Act (S. 2881). The proposed legislation would signify a long-term commitment to OSHA’s program, which recognizes worksites that exhibit “outstanding” efforts by employers and employees to achieve “exemplary” occupational safety and health performance. To be accepted into the program, worksites must implement safety and health management systems that yield below-average injury and illness rates. Successful worksites that participate in VPP are exempt from certain OSHA inspections.

More than 2,200 worksites have taken part in VPP since its inception in 1982. The VPP Act would codify the program, which means Congress would not be able to withdraw its funding.

“As a former small business owner, I understand both the importance of maintaining a safe workplace as well as the burdens that can be imposed by federal regulations,” Enzi said in a press release. “The Voluntary Protection Program has encouraged a culture of health and safety in the workplace that is great for workers along with saving the government and private sector hundreds of millions of dollars by avoiding injuries and illness. It is important that Congress cement this successful program to help ensure that it persists, as well as to ensure that it can grow to include more of America’s small businesses.”

Bennett said VPP needs to be as a permanent fixture to protect workers.

“Workers throughout Colorado and the country should be safe in their workplaces,” he said in the release. “VPP is a proven model that encourages labor and management to work together to improve the safety of their work environments. Our bill ensures that OSHA can continue to use this successful and cost-effective program to ensure the health and safety of Colorado workers.”

At press time, the legislation remained before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Similar legislation was introduced in the House in May 2015; it was referred to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee in November.

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