Two new Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) initiatives from OSHA launched May 26 are designed to expand programs to promote the safety and health of “thousands more workers across the nation,” according to the agency.

"We want to continually improve OSHA's cooperative programs and provide opportunities for more employers and employees who want to work with OSHA to create safer and healthier workplaces," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Encouraging many more facilities to continuously improve safety and health is the most effective way to assure compliance and further reductions in injuries, illnesses and fatalities."

Fifteen companies, associations and a federal agency will participate in the VPP pilots. OSHA will evaluate both pilots after the first year.

OSHA Challenge is designed to reach employers in all industry groups who are committed to improving their safety and health management systems and want to pursue recognition for their improvements. Open to private or public-sector employees, Challenge provides a roadmap to improve performance and ultimately to VPP Merit or Star. The Challenge program outlines the requirements needed to develop and implement effective safety and health management systems through incremental steps.

VPP Corporate is intended to eliminate barriers faced by some corporations who want to implement VPP company-wide. To participate, corporations agree to strive for corporate-wide VPP implementation and to support the programs through mentoring and outreach activities. Streamlined application and onsite evaluation processes are used to facilitate implementation. Charter participants include Dow Chemical Co., General Electric Co., Johnson & Johnson, the United States Postal Service and more.