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Safety and Health: The VPP Difference

Contributor: AuditSoft

The Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) has promoted safety and health at worksites for more than four decades. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have implemented effective safety and health practices that keep injury and illness rates below the national average.

The VPP started as an experimental program in California in 1979. OSHA then formally announced the VPP and approved the first site in 1982. Federal worksites later became eligible for VPP in 1998.

To maintain VPP status, participants must evaluate the effectiveness of their safety and health management programs on an annual basis – by February 15 of each year.

Drastically Reduced Incidents

VPP has drastically reduced incidents among participating employers. The average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate of 52% below the average for its industry.

OSHA also publishes the data collected from Annual Self-Evaluations submitted by VPP participants.

Here’s sample data from the 2020 VPP Annual Evaluation:

  • Site-based non-construction VPP participants avoided an estimated 4,303 Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) injuries when compared to expected results within their respective industries.

  • Site-based non-construction VPP participants avoided an estimated 2,501 DART injuries when compared to expected results within their respective industries.

  • 577 site-based non-construction VPP participants experienced zero recordable injuries and illnesses during 2020.

How Else is VPP Benefitting Employers?

VPP status comes with a range of benefits that make the lengthy process of attaining it more than worthwhile:

  • Increased profits: Fewer injuries and illnesses mean fewer compensation payouts and less downtime due to employee absences.

  • Improved efficiency: Rigorous safety plans that meet OSHA’s VPP requirements can create order out of chaos – adding value beyond safety and health and creating operational efficiencies.

  • Boosted employee morale: Safe and happy workers who are actively encouraged to engage in safety processes are more likely to stay with their employer.

  • Inspection exemption: VPP participants are removed from OSHA’s programmed inspection list (though participants can still receive an OSHA inspection in response to severe injury, death, or employee complaints).

  • Competitive advantage: VPP status demonstrates that you prioritize the highest standards of safety for your employees – adding reputational value and helping you attract safety-conscious workers.

  • Industry influence: VPP sites that demonstrate excellence can influence standard practices across the industry.

Maintaining VPP Status

To maintain VPP status, participants must annually evaluate the effectiveness of their safety and health management programs. These Annual Self-Evaluations are critical to ensuring that sites maintain the high standards set by OSHA and are instrumental in driving continuous improvement. They are also thorough and must include assessments of all the VPP elements and sub-elements of the VPP participant’s safety and health management program.

Heard about the latest way VPPPA is innovating to benefit members? Learn about the VPPPA and AuditSoft partnership to create VPP Online – the new cloud-based platform for conducting Annual Self-Evaluations electronically…

VPP Online: The New Cloud-Based Platform for Conducting Annual Self-Evaluations

The traditional paper-based method for conducting Annual Self-Evaluations was time-consuming and complicated – so AuditSoft and VPPPA teamed up to digitize it. Now, VPPPA members can complete their Annual Self-Evaluations electronically using the cloud-based platform, VPP Online. VPP Online also automates many of the manual administrative tasks that come with conducting self-evaluations – like calculating injury and illness rates by NAICS code. The platform also promotes collaboration by enabling up to 20 team members to work on their self-evaluation simultaneously.

June Meeks from NuStar Energy Review VPP Online

June Meeks, Operations Analyst, Nustar Energy

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Jacqueline "Jackie" Annis is an industrial hygienist with the Office of Partnerships and Recognition, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs in OSHA’s National Office.  Jackie’s primary responsibilities include developing and overseeing internal policies and procedures for the VPP, reviewing VPP on-site evaluation reports for process safety management information, serving as the National Office liaison for two of OSHA’s ten Regions, and facilitating the management of OSHA’s National Strategic Partnership Program.  She is an integral part of OSHA’s National Office team. 

She has served with the Agency for 36 years, including five years as a senior industrial hygienist in OSHA’s Office of Health Enforcement, Directorate of Enforcement Programs in the National Office and 17 years as a compliance safety and health officer in the Denver, CO Area Office.  Prior to her tenure at OSHA, Jackie worked as an industrial hygienist for the Department of the Navy in Alameda, California.  Jackie obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA in 1983.

Wayne Howard earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis and has spent 12 years with Shell (at Martinez) refinery, 3 years with the consulting firm Process Safety, 15 years with Valero (at Benicia), and the last 10 years in the Corporate Process Safety Department. He is the Valero representative to AFPM's Advancing Process Safety Initiative.

Nathan Obaugh, PE is a senior engineer in the Safety and Operational Excellence Group at NuStar Energy. Nathan has over 10 years of PSM and process design experience in the petrochemical, refining and midstream industries. At NuStar, Nathan oversees all elements of the corporate PSM program and works directly on hazard analysis, process safety studies, PSM/RMP audits and provides process engineering support to the operations and capital projects groups.

Jared Teter, PhD is a senior staff scientist with a background in physics and hazards analysis. He has extensive experience in subscale testing of energetic materials and has served as program manager for several large testing and risk management projects. He has applied engineering and risk management protocols while evaluating the risk associated with propellant and explosives manufacturing, combustible dust, and other hazardous material related processes.

Tim Belitz has a degree in Environmental Health/Industrial Hygiene from Old Dominion University and a Master’s from Duke University. He has over 25 years of Industrial Health Safety and Environmental Experience and is a Certified Safety Professional. He has many years focused on Contractor Management and Process Safety programs.

Rob Walker graduated from Virginia Tech in Microbiology and Chemical Engineering. Rob has almost 35 years of experience working in the chemical plant and refining industry. His passion for Process Safety and Mechanical Integrity began very early in his career. Rob began with his current company, Honeywell, back in 2011.

Prasad Joshi has B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Chemical Engineering from two universities in India. Prasad has over 30 years’ experience in the business. He began with Honeywell in May 2022 as Principal Maintenance Engineer. He has worked internationally in Asia and Europe.