Mr. PETRI. Mr. Speaker, today, Rep. GENE GREEN and I are introducing the bipartisan Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Act to make permanent one of the federal government's most successful workplace health and safety programs.
This legislation would codify a successful program, the Voluntary Protection Program, operated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that recognizes and rewards employers who voluntarily work to improve the health and safety of their worksites. The program is currently operating but has never been authorized in law and was proposed to be cut by the Obama administration's fiscal year 2011 budget. While the administration backed away from those cuts in its more recent budget proposals, this legislation would put the program on a more solid foundation by specifically authorizing it in law.
Since the VPP was created in 1982, it has grown to include more than 2,200 worksites and more than 921,000 employees. 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. Participating workplaces have an illness and injury rate that, on average, is 50 percent below that of their industry.
Business owners in my district have reported to me that the relationship between OSHA and businesses has become more adversarial over the past couple years. While OSHA does have a responsibility to enforce workplace safety laws, it has been my experience that most employers want to run safe workplaces. The VPP program provides a mechanism for OSHA to build a more constructive relationship with employers who have demonstrated a willingness to invest in workplace safety. This creates an incentive for other employers to follow suit, improving safety and saving money on enforcement costs at the same time.
I hope that our colleagues will join us in authorizing this bipartisan and successful workplace safety program.