Today, U.S. Reps. Tom Petri (R-WI), a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Gene Green (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation to make permanent a key voluntary workplace safety program.
The bill would codify the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), a successful partnership between private industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that was created in 1982 but never authorized in law. Once approved for VPP status, employers must commit to continuously improving the safety and health of their worksites while being reevaluated and monitored by OSHA to ensure continued compliance with program requirements.
Rep. Green stated, "The Voluntary Protection Program is one of the few programs that has achieved unified support from both union and non-unionized labor, small and large businesses, and government. I am proud to work with my friend to codify this important safety program that saves money while protecting workers. In Texas alone, 342 worksites that employ over 50,000 workers, participate in this program."
"VPP is a great example of successful cooperation between private businesses and a government regulator," said Rep. Petri, one of the bill's sponsors. "Interactions between OSHA and businesses can often be adversarial--this program takes a different approach. I understand there are times when a heavy hand is needed, but most employers want a safe work environment. VPP represents a balanced and sensible approach to achieving this goal with reasonable oversight."
VPP currently includes more than 2,500 worksites and roughly one million employees nationwide. A 2007 report noted that federal VPP worksites saved the government more than $59 million by avoiding injuries, and that private sector VPP participants saved more than $300 million.