A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday would codify the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a safety and health program overseen by OSHA. VPP is aimed at preventing workplace injuries and fatalities while increasing productivity, employee engagement and lowering costs for companies and taxpayers.

One million employees

The bipartisan Voluntary Protection Program Act (H.R. 2500) was introduced by Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL), highlighting VPP's successful track record of significantly improving safety and health at thousands of worksites across the U.S., covering nearly one million employees. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are saved annually through VPP, calculating government savings to be more than $59 million a year. Private sector savings total more than $300 million annually.

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez recently testified to Congress on the merits of the program and the effort to get more companies involved in VPP.

"The Voluntary Protection Program is one of the few programs that has achieved unified support from both union and non-unionized labor, small and large businesses and government, " said Rep. Green. “I am proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to codify this important safety program that saves money while protecting workers. In Texas alone, 317 worksites participate in this program.”

Partnerships not penalties

Rep. Roby, stressed that codifying VPP is a good move for workers and for businesses, "We all want to ensure worker safety, and VPP seeks to achieve that through partnerships, not penalties. VPP helps companies become compliant with workplace safety rules on the front end to avoid costly fines and harmful penalties on the back end. VPP is a smart way to ensure a safe and productive workplace, and I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation to finally codify it."

"VPP has been a great success in Indiana, including worksites like Cintas in Frankfort and Nucor in Crawfordsville.  It is one federal program that works well, fostering cooperation between private businesses and a government regulator," said Rep. Rokita.  "This collaboration is good for employees, employers, and the American economy."

Mike Maddox, chairman of the association representing worksites that are participating in VPP or pursuing VPP status, the VPP Participants' Association, Inc. (VPPPA), said H.R. 2500 would ensure OSHA's continued support of VPP.

The more than 2,200 VPPPA member sites primarily consist of worksites that have been approved, or are seeking approval, into VPP as administered by OSHA, state-plan OSHA and the U.S. Department of Energy.