U.S. Reps. Tom Petri, R-Wis., and Gene Green, D-Texas, introduced bipartisan legislation that would make permanent the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), a workplace safety program.
The program, created in 1982, is a partnership between private industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The bill would codify the program, which was never authorized in law.
Once approved for VPP status, employers are required to continuously improve the health and safety of their worksites, while OSHA monitors and evaluates to ensure that employers are complying with VPP requirements.
“VPP is a great example of successful cooperation between private businesses and a government regulator,” Petri said in a statement. “Interactions between OSHA and businesses can often be adversarial — this program takes a different approach. I understand there are times when a heavy hand is needed, but most employers want a safe work environment. VPP represents a balanced and sensible approach to achieving this goal with reasonable oversight.”
The program currently includes more than 2,500 worksites and about one million employees nationwide. In Wisconsin, 45 employers participate in VPP, including C.R. Meyers and Sons Company in Oshkosh and Kimberly-Clark in Neenah.
According to OSHA, the average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (the rate of injuries and illnesses that result in workers having days away from work, restricted work activity, and/or a job transfer) case rate of 52 percent below the average for its industry.