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OSHA’s cooperative programs: voluntary protection

A previous blog post discussed one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) cooperative programs, Strategic Partnership. Ohio residents may enter into partnerships to improve health and safety in major corporations, government agencies and private sector industries. The partnership agreements are designed to encourage and assist partner efforts to comply with OSHA standards. Another one of OSHA’s cooperative programs available to employers and workers is the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

The VPP promotes workplace safety and health through OSHA, management and labor cooperation. All participants work together to prevent fatalities, workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses by providing training and worksite analysis, encouraging manager and worker involvement and instituting other measures of prevention and control. The cooperative relationships allow managers and workers to implement comprehensive safety and health management systems. The VPP is designed to recognize workplaces that show active involvement and strong commitment to OSHA’s policies and procedures.

To participate in VPP, employers must submit an OSHA application and be subject to an onsite evaluation by safety and health professionals. To retain VPP status, members must be re-evaluated every three to five years. As long as members maintain their VPP status, they are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections. Participant information is searchable online by recent approvals, industry classification, location or union.

Although VPP are designed for fixed worksites, mobile workforces such as contractors and subcontractors are also eligible for participation. VPP participants have access to OSHA-developed resources such as fact sheets, stationery, newsletters and are eligible for giveaways such as shirts, coffee mugs and plaques. There are two other OSHA programs that provide participants with support and recognition for reducing workplace accidents, the OSHA Challenge program and the Safety & Health Achievement Recognition program – they will be discussed in a future post.

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