OSHA chief Dr. Michaels said all the right, politically correct things in favor of his agency’s Voluntary Protection Program at this year’s National Safety Congress in San Diego, and then added that OSHA does not have the budget to boost enforcement as Dr. Michaels and Labor Secretary Solis want, while continuing to invest resources in VPP at past levels. He favors a fee-based model
We had an interesting off-the-record lunch on the NSC expo floor with a safety pro who volunteers as a Special Government Employee (SGE) mentoring and auditing companies that want into OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program. He said he's seen a significant change in how the program is handled since the Obama administration took over. From 2003 to 2008, he claimed the bar was set low for entry into VPP so that overall numbers of VPP companies could ramp up. Now the bar is set high, high enough that some already certified VPP companies have been audited and SGEs have debated into the night whether they should be decertified. And initial audits to get into the program are tougher, too.
This SGE was in favor of companies paying OSHA to apply for VPP. He believes making companies pay for VPP will separate the mildly interested from the seriously committed. "Right now it's free and if you don't make it, so what, you can try again." He says some of the most reluctant VPP entrants are workplaces of corporations where the CEO has decreed all facilities will fly the VPP flag. The SGE voted against his own company applying for VPP status when the VPP team began to dissolve and it became apparent that he, as the VPP coordinator, was going to be handed full responsibility without much help. When management support wavered, he saw the writing on the wall and voted out.