World Congress: VPP Goes International

For the first time, in 2005, the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work is coming to the United States, and OSHA Administrator John Henshaw wants participants in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) to attend.

The Congress is scheduled for Sept. 18 - 22, 2005, in Orlando, Fla., and Henshaw told participants at the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association's (VPPPA) annual meeting that they can play a key role in the World Congress, which is a forum for international discussion and debate on all issues relating to the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses.

"Having VPP participants at this gathering is especially important, because, as the objectives for next year's Congress state, 'The prevention of occupational safety and health hazards can best be achieved in the global arena through partnerships between the governments, industry and labor leaders,' said Henshaw, stressing that VPP is a cooperative partnership between OSHA and companies wanting to excel at safety.

The congress is organized every 3 years by the International Social Security Association and the International Labor Organization. The U.S. host organization for next year's gathering is the National Safety Council. The Department of Labor is supporting the World Congress and participating as a government partner on the National Organizing Committee.

Henshaw noted that OSHA has been making what he called "significant progress" in getting VPP recognized internationally.

"Ireland and Northern Ireland will be piloting VPP," he revealed. "A collaborative agreement was recently signed between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States to work towards establishing a voluntary program modeled after OSHA's VPP in their respective countries."

He added that as part of NAFTA, OSHA is working with Mexico and Canada and exploring the feasibility of establishing a Trinational Recognition Program that recognizes companies achieving safety and health excellence in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Additionally, Holland has expressed interest in VPP and has invited OSHA to come make a presentation to talk more about the possibility of piloting VPP in that country.

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