OSHA’s Fairfax talks VPP, NEPs

National Harbor, MD – OSHA struggles with how to manage its Voluntary Protection Programs and is in the process of implementing changes, assistant agency administrator Richard Fairfax said March 27 during a keynote address at a conference for the textile service industry trade group TRSA.

While stressing that VPP is a good program, Fairfax said the agency is not sure what should happen when a company in the program experiences a fatality. In addition, OSHA is concerned about some companies being in the program that perhaps should not be, he said.

Last summer, an internal team conducted a top-to-bottom review of VPP and made suggestions for improvements, which OSHA is undertaking. One of those suggestions was using more special government employees when conducting VPP site visits to free up OSHA employees.

Fairfax also said some current National Emphasis Programs will be winding down, including those on recordkeeping (.pdf file) and diacetyl and food flavoring (.pdf file). NEPs on hexavalent chromium (.pdf file), lead (.pdf file) and primary metal industries (.pdf file) may be combined into a single NEP, he said.

Upcoming NEPs include patient handling in nursing homes and isocyanates (compounds that create glues and foams), which Fairfax described as “nasty.”

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