The Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), adopted by OSHA on July 2, 1982, recognizes and partner with businesses and worksites that show excellence in occupational safety and health. Based on cooperative action among government, industry and labor, VPP addresses worker safety and health issues and expands worker protection. Sites are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards. Requirements for VPP participants are based on comprehensive management systems with active employee involvement to prevent and control the potential safety and health hazards of the site. Companies that qualify, view OSHA standards as a minimum level of safety and health performance and set their own more stringent standards, where necessary, for effective employee protection. VPP participants develop and implement systems to effectively identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards to prevent employee injuries and illnesses. As a result, the average VPP worksite has a lost workday incidence rate at least 50 percent below industry average
OSHA has long recognized that compliance with occupational safety and health standards alone cannot accomplish all the goals of the OSH Act. The standards, no matter how carefully conceived and developed, will never cover all unsafe and unhealthful activities and conditions. Furthermore, limited resources will never permit regular or exhaustive inspections of all of the nation's workplaces. No amount of standard setting and enforcement can replace the understanding of work processes, materials and hazards that comes with employers' and employees' day-to-day, on-the-job experience. This knowledge, combined with the ability to evaluate and address hazards rapidly and to reward positive action, places employers in a unique position to improve workplace safety and health in ways simply not available to OSHA.
The purpose VPP is to recognize and promote effective safety and health management systems. In the VPP, management, labor and OSHA establish a cooperative relationship at a workplace that has implemented a strong safety and health program. These programs are comprised of management systems for preventing or controlling occupational hazards that not only ensure that OSHA's standards are met, but, using flexibility and creativity, go beyond the mandatory requirements to provide the best feasible protections for workers at that site. In the process, these worksites serve as models for safety and health excellence in their industries.
Worksites that have been evaluated and approved for VPP are removed from programmed inspection lists for the duration of their participation. This frees OSHA's inspection resources for visits to establishments that are less likely to meet the requirements of the OSHA standards. OSHA will still investigate fatalities, valid employee complaints and significant events at VPP sites, but participants enter into a new relationship with OSHA, one in which safety and health problems can be approached cooperatively if and when they arise.