OSHA Debuts Online Portal for Voluntary Protection Program Application
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has introduced a new online portal for submitting applications to the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs. The new portal modernizes the application process for companies that qualify for VPP and makes it easier for candidates to start, continue and get assistance with submitting their applications.
The portal allows OSHA to review applications in real time, and help companies correct errors or omissions quickly. Applicants can use the portal to upload electronic versions of supporting documentation, and they can stop and complete their application later without having to restart. Alternatively, after completing an applicant profile, they may download an application form to complete offline, and submit their application materials by mail.
“Companies in the Voluntary Protection Programs go above and beyond basic OSHA requirements and strive to create a culture of safety,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “This important program comprises sites that serve as models of excellence and influence safety and health practices in all industries.”
According to OSHA, it developed the VPP Portal as part of its efforts to continue representing safety and health excellence, leverage resources, accommodate effective administration of VPP and support smart program growth. The agency developed the portal with input from external stakeholders and OSHA staff. Qualified companies with mature safety and health management systems can apply to VPP using the new system.
OSHA adopted VPP on July 2, 1982, to recognize cooperative action among government, industry, and labor as a means of addressing worker safety and health issues and expanding worker protection.
OSHA’s VPP sets performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system, invites sites to apply, and then assesses applicants against these criteria. OSHA’s verification includes an application review and a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.
OSHA approves qualified sites to one of three programs:
- Star: Recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.
- Merit: Recognition for employers and employees who have developed and implemented good safety and health management systems but who must take additional steps to reach Star quality.
- Demonstration: Recognition for employers and employees who operate effective safety and health management systems that differ from current VPP requirements. This program enables OSHA to test the efficacy of different approaches.
On the OSHA VPP website, the agency cites impressive statistical evidence for the program’s success: “The average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate of 52% below the average for its industry. These sites typically do not start out with such low rates. Reductions in injuries and illnesses begin when the site commits to the VPP approach to safety and health management and the challenging VPP application process.”