R. Davis Layne, executive director of the Voluntary Protection Programs Participant Association, testified on Thursday, June 28, before the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce in a hearing, entitled, "Promoting Safe Workplaces Through Voluntary Protection Programs."
In his last official duty prior to retiring to an advisory role, VPPPA’s Layne represented the VPP Participants' Association (VPPPA) as a witness.
VPPPA National Board Member Rob Henson, a process technician for LyondellBasell in Channelview, Texas, was also asked to testify.
Mr. Layne brought his 30 years of experience at OSHA to bear by championing the program’s strengths. "VPP is proactive," he explained, "VPP sites must demonstrate [&] how they have continued to work to address any remaining hazards or improve their processes even further or risk being denied re-approval." He went on to applaud the program's adaptability and ability to meet the changing needs of the modern workplace by addressing hazards that OSHA remains silent on or addresses only through severely outdated regulations.
This dedication to continuous improvement was echoed by Mr. Henson, who emphasized how VPP represents a holistic approach to safety: "The culture and mindset of our employees is that everyone that enters our facility will go home at the end of the day as safe and sound as when they arrived. Safety is truly the number one priority. Anyone in our plant has the right and obligation to stop and question anything that they feel may lead to an injury or unsafe condition."
Despite disagreements on how best to support VPP in the future, representatives from both parties praised the program's mission and successes. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, declared to the witnesses, "Every company in this country should be like yours and then we don't even need OSHA. [&] [But it] is so important to us, because they fill in all the gaps that employers really can't do on their own. Thank you for being an example of how VPP can work."