New Bill Enhances Workplace Safety, Compliance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ensuring a safe and productive workplace through enhancing compliance efforts is the intent behind new, bipartisan legislation proposed today by U.S. Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), with Representatives Martha Roby (R-AL) and Gene Green (D-TX) co-sponsoring.
The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiative that helps industries voluntarily and proactively come into compliance with workplace safety requirements. Though it has been a successful program since its creation in 1982, it was never authorized in the law, making it subject to the whims of the Executive Branch.
H.R. 2500, would authorize VPP in the law, making the program permanent and allowing Congress to oversee and fund it properly through the appropriations process.
Rep. Roby, who has been a forceful advocate for more sensible workplace policies, said making VPP law is a good move for workers and for businesses.
“We all want to ensure worker safety, and VPP seeks to achieve that through partnerships, not penalties,” Rep. Roby said.
“VPP helps companies become compliant with workplace safety rules on the front end to avoid costly fines and harmful penalties on the back end. VPP is a smart way to ensure a safe and productive workplace, and I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation to finally codify it.”
VPP requires implementation of comprehensive health and safety worksite protocols, which when certified compliant by OSHA, yields fewer injuries and illnesses and allows agency officials to focus on higher risk workplaces. Currently more than 2,200 worksites participate in the program covering approximately 900,000 employees.
A 2007 report noted that federal VPP worksites saved the government nearly $300 million, including $59 million by avoiding injuries. Participating workplaces have an illness and injury rate well below industry averages.
Rep. Rokita, who serves on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and who authored the bill, cited the program’s success in his state of Indiana.
“VPP has been a great success in Indiana, including worksites like Cintas in Frankfort and Nucor in Crawfordsville. It is one federal program that works well, fostering cooperation between private businesses and a government regulator,” said Rep. Rokita.
Instead of heavy-handed government regulation, this program engages the private sector to create safe work environments. This collaboration is good for employees, employers and the American economy. I want to thank Representatives Green and Roby for their leadership on this issue and their continued commitment to this sensible workplace safety program.”
Rep. Green said the program also enjoys success in his state of Texas, and added that it has support from across the labor and management spectrum.
“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,” said Rep. Green.
“I am proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to codify this important safety program that saves money while protecting workers. In Texas alone, 317 worksites participate in this program that employ tens of thousands of workers.”