More companies will be eligible to participate in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) under revised requirements proposed Oct. 12 and published in the Federal Register.
The changes, which also raise the safety and health achievement levels expected of all participants, will clarify and strengthen OSHA's cooperation with industry and labor, agency Administrator Charles N. Jeffress said.
Federal agencies and certain contractors at VPP sites now are eligible to join the program's three levels: Star, the most prestigious level for companies with excellent safety and health programs; Merit, for companies with programs aiming to reach Star status; and Demonstration, for companies with innovative features that OSHA wants to evaluate.
In addition to previously required injury data, OSHA will require participants to report illness rates and numbers. Star participants' injury and illness rates now must be below industry averages, rather than "at or below." With some exceptions, Merit participation will be limited to three years so those sites will work to achieve Star status during that time. An alternate method for calculating incidence rates will help small businesses qualify for the Star program.
Other changes require participants to track and document management responsibility and accountability in the safety and health process. This documentation must demonstrate that adequate resources are available and appropriate systems are in place for tracking and analyzing safety and health programs, including identifying and controlling hazards.
The revision brings VPP language into conformity with OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. Comments on the proposed revisions will be accepted by OSHA through Nov. 26.