Acting OSHA Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab and Houston Mayor Bill White addressed more than 2,800 attendees at the Opening General Session of the 25th Annual National Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association, Inc. (VPPPA) Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

In his speech, acting Assistant Secretary Barab talked about finding a path that will preserve the best of the VPP program while addressing the challenges that OSHA faces based on budget constraints and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ focus on enforcement, according to a VPPPA press release. He enlisted the help of VPPPA’s members in identifying what is best about VPP and how to maintain and improve those features.

“We’ll help ensure the VPP retains the highest standard of unquestionable quality and merit and integrity,” said Barab. “Not only hammers are needed to do a good job; that’s why cooperative programs including VPP and other tools deserve a place in the OSHA toolbox.”

Houston’s mayor Bill White, who talked about the leadership necessary in reaction to natural disasters, drew parallels between his efforts to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and VPP sites’ efforts to be ahead of the curve and proactively protect lives.

“Keeping Americans safe and healthy and making sure we have a workplace that honors and respects the rights of workers is something that is one of the most important jobs there is at any time and any place,” said Mayor White.

For information on next year’s 26th Annual National VPPPA Conference in Orlando, Fla., please visit www.vpppa.org/Conference/index.cfm or contact the Conference and Education Department at Conference-Education@vpppa.org.