In a letter to Sen. Mike Enzi, (R-WY), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) President Michael Brandt throws the AIHA’s support behind Enzi’s bill to protect OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, which has received lukewarm backing from OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels and his leadership team.

Writes Brandt: “Since 1982, the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) has created a culture of workplace health and safety to nearly a million employees across the United States. Employers, employees and other stakeholders recognize this program as a success that not only should be continued but expanded. Enactment of Senate Bill 3257 is a huge step in the right direction.

“…Codifying the VPP program will provide assurance that this program continues, is provided adequate funding, and is expanded to assist small business. Enactment also provides direction to OSHA on how best to monitor and evaluate the program to garner the most efficiency from the program.

“VPP under your legislation would continue to be a comprehensive workplace safety and health management system that is built on cooperation among workers, employers and government.

“S 3257 would also expand the program to small and medium size businesses, historically underserved workplaces in terms of health and safety protection and health and safety compliance. These companies and businesses too often do not have access to health and safety professionals or have the financial resources, skills, or technical expertise to implement many of the OSHA required programs and regulations to protect its workforce.

“AIHA is aware of the limited resources of the Federal government and suggests OSHA consider additional ways to recognize and use an existing pool of qualified and competent professionals such as industrial hygienists and safety professionals to provide employers the needed guidance and technical expertise. AIHA concurs with the recommendation offered by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) to work with OSHA to develop a third-party workplace review program that might alleviate some of the cost of the VPP that so concerns OSHA. The third-party workplace review program was developed by AIHA, ASSE and others several years ago and was included in previous legislation introduced by you, legislation known as the “SAFE Act”. Perhaps the time has come to revisit this approach and determine whether such a program might be viable?”