Recognized for its industry leadership, employee-driven safety initiatives and commitment to improving workplace safety and health programs, the U.S. Postal Service Tuesday became the first federal agency to be accepted into OSHA's new Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Corporate pilot program.

The VPP program emphasizes combined efforts by management, employees and union representatives to identify and eliminate unsafe working conditions and practices to reduce the number and severity of job-related injuries and illnesses.

The Postal Service says it currently has 20 work sites participating in the VPP program and expects to add 65 more by the end of fiscal year 2005.

VPP Corporate streamlines the application and onsite evaluation processes and eliminates redundant documentation of effective safety and health management systems for multiple sites within the same corporation.

"It's a triple win,” said Postmaster General John E. Potter during a VPP Corporate ceremony at Postal Service headquarters. “Our employees benefit, the organization benefits, and the country benefits."

Potter added that the VPP Corporate pilot initiative is a driving force for the continued safety and health of the more than 700,000 career postal employees working at more than 37,000 facilities nationwide.

USPS, which joins Georgia-Pacific Corp. as the first two organizations to be in the VPP Corporate pilot program, was accepted after a comprehensive evaluation of its safety and health management systems at its headquarters in Washington, DC.

In approving USPS acceptance into the VPP Corporate pilot program, OSHA officials congratulated the agency on six areas of excellence:

  • Management and union safety leadership;
  • Safety Toolkit, a comprehensive online safety information, management and tracking system;
  • National Performance Assessment, which includes a safety performance scorecard;
  • Performance Evaluation Guide, which evaluates and tracks worksite safety and health improvements;
  • Training programs; and,
  • Data tracking systems.

Since 2001, the Postal Service says it has experienced a 36 percent reduction in the total number of injuries and illnesses. In fiscal year 2004, the agency says total illnesses and injuries were reduced by 17 percent compared to the previous year — a reduction of more than 8,000 illnesses and injuries.