Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told participants at the 17th Annual Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association (VPPPA) conference in New Orleans this week that she supports legislation to codify OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"VPP has earned a permanent place in OSHA's mandate," the Secretary told 2,000 representatives of companies participating in OSHA's premier partnership program. "This is a leading example of how employers, employees and government can work together.

Since taking office, Chao has advocated prevention and education as a key to reducing workplace injuries and illnesses. This is a step toward advancing that principle.

Chao announced that OSHA and the VPPPA have agreed to work together to double participation in the VPP among small businesses. Under this new initiative, OSHA will help find workplaces interested in participating, and VPP companies will mentor the candidates.