VPP praised during House hearing, but stakeholders urge caution

Washington – OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs help employers improve workplace safety and health but need more scientific evaluation to truly measure success, various stakeholders told the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee during a June 28 hearing.

Workplaces participating in VPP have effective safety and health management systems and maintain an injury and illness rate lower than the industry average. These workplaces are exempt from “routine” OSHA inspections.

Cooperation among workers, employers, safety officials and unions is a key feature of VPP that results in safer worksites, and the program frees up OSHA to focus on “bad actor” employers that fail to follow safety rules, subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) said.

However, ranking member Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) noted that previous studies of VPP found some participants remained in the program despite poor safety performance. Better oversight from OSHA is needed, she added.

Although he said OSHA is “proud” of the program, assistant agency administrator Jordan Barab agreed with Woolsey and stressed that limited resources have created challenges regarding balancing VPP’s needs while maintaining other priorities, such as other cooperative assistance and enforcement.

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