In 1982, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the implementation of the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). In 1984, OSHA held a meeting where VPP site participants gathered to network and share the benefits of participation. The following year, OSHA was unable to hold a similar meeting, so participating VPP sites; Georgia Power and Mobil Chemical, sponsored the meeting. During that meeting in September 1985, the attending participating companies voted to form an association. Ronald R. Amerson from Georgia Power was elected as the founding chair of the association.
From 1985 to 1990 the main function of the solely volunteer run association was to present an annual conference, with OSHA's assistance, on the VPP and invite interested companies to attend. In 1990, the association expanded its role and established paid membership categories. In 1991, the association contracted Margaret "Peggy" R. Richardson as the Executive Director and a staff was hired. The new office was established in McLean, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., and began collecting membership dues and issuing a quarterly newsletter to members. In September 1991, the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) received a certificate of incorporation from the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporate Commission.
In the early 1990's, volunteer-based VPPPA chapters began to establish an association presence in each of the 10 OSHA regions. In 2002, the VPPPA had an established association chapter presence in all of the OSHA regions. VPPPA chapters continue to host local networking opportunities for VPP sites and maintain a working relationship with local agency officials such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), federal OSHA and OSHA state-plan offices.
The association has seen significant growth since its formation, most notably in the past five years. In 1985, at the first official VPPPA conference held in Washington DC, a recorded 30 attendees participated at the event. Today, over 2,500 attendees gather at the national conference to network, share best practices and attend over 110 educational sessions geared to help sites to continually improve their safety and heath management systems.
Membership categories and numbers have also seen significant increases over the years. Originally formed to provide networking opportunities for approved VPP sites and sites who had submitted VPP applications, the association currently has membership categories for VPP sites (Full), sites pursuing VPP (Associate), company headquarter offices (Corporate), products and services providers (Affiliates), non-profits, unions, agencies and international sites. The VPPPA International Associate category was established by a membership vote in 2005 to include sites outside of the U.S. who are implementing elements of VPP at their sites.
From its humble beginnings of just a handful of participating sites, the VPPPA has grown to over 1,900 member sites.