Falls Church, VA - In an uncommon display of election-year bipartisanship, U.S. Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) proposed legislation last week, (S. 2881) to make the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) a permanent part of the workplace safety picture.
VPP recognizes workers, managers and companies that use best practices that go above and beyond the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) minimum safety requirements to enhance workplace safety and health. VPP worksites significantly reduce injuries and illnesses for approximately one million American workers in traditionally hazardous occupations at 2,200 worksites across the country, including 700 participating local unions. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are saved annually through VPP and companies with VPP initiatives in place enjoy injury and illness rates that are more than 50 percent below industry averages.
S. 2881 is a companion bill to an identical measure in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2500, originally sponsored by Todd Rokita (R-IN), Gene Greene (D-TX) and Martha Roby (R-AL). Since May 2015, an additional 30 cosponsors have signed on to it. Both houses and the Obama Administration have proposed budgetary language supporting the expansion of VPP.
“Worker safety is a bipartisan issue,” said Mike Maddox, chairman of the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA). “The workers and businesses that make VPP a success are encouraged to see this level of support from the administration and Congress.”
Virginia made history last year when it became the second state in the nation, after Indiana in 1995, to pass a bipartisan bill to make VPP a permanent part of its OSHA program at the urging of Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), with support from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia AFL-CIO, the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association and several safety and health organizations.
“VPP is the gold standard of workplace safety,” said Virginia Labor Commissioner C. Ray Davenport. “It embraces the cooperative spirit of labor-management relations at their best.”
“Workplace safety is a right,” said Neal Hall, Business Manager of the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council. “From all the building trades on construction sites to the steelworkers in shipyards, VPP saves lives.”
VPPPA, Inc., is the world’s leading organization dedicated to cooperative occupational safety and health management systems. The more than 2,200 VPPPA member sites primarily consist of worksites that have been approved, or are seeking approval, into VPP as administered by OSHA, state-plan OSHA and the U.S. Department of Energy. VPPPA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization.