OSHA Proposes Voluntary Protection Program for Construction
The last of three new Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) initiatives, first raised by OSHA two years ago, was unveiled August 30th by OSHA Administrator John Henshaw at the 20th Annual Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) Conference in Las Vegas.
"VPP for Construction" (VPPC) joins "VPP Corporate Pilot" and "OSHA Challenge Pilot," both launched last May, as the newest member of OSHA's premier cooperative program that recognizes and promotes effective health and safety management systems. The agency is seeking public comment on the VPPC proposal, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register.
"The construction industry has not been able to take advantage of the benefits of VPP participation, mainly due to eligibility requirements since VPP was originally designed for fixed workplaces," Henshaw told the participants. "We've learned a great deal from our ongoing relationships with the construction industry, labor and VPPPA, and OSHA has crafted a program we believe will maintain VPP's high performance standards while, at the same time, respond to the industry's unique needs. We believe our proposal has the potential to significantly contribute to reductions in injuries, illnesses and fatalities in one of the nation's most hazardous industries."
VPPC is based on the agency's VPP experience, in general, as well as successes garnered through the construction-related Mobile Workforce and Short-term Construction Star Demonstration Programs. The core of the initiative continues to rest on the principle of effective safety and health management systems. It mirrors the general VPP design by continuing to offer participation at either the Star or Merit level, with the possibility of future Demonstration Programs. The new initiative is unique, however, in that it creates two categories of participation; one for long-term, site-based construction projects, and the other for companies, divisions and other business units that employ mobile workforces and work at various sites or projects not always controlled by the participant.
The VPPPA conference also provided Henshaw the opportunity to recognize companies that have successfully completed 20 or more years of VPP participation. He also highlighted the 10th anniversary of the Special Government Employees program that gives VPP participants the opportunity to serve on VPP evaluation teams. Henshaw congratulated participants for taking a "leading role in preserving worker safety and health on the job," and challenged the participants to work with OSHA to "continue to build, strengthen and expand this amazing partnership."
Parties interested in commenting on the VPPC proposal should submit their remarks no later than Oct. 30, 2004, to the OSHA Docket Office (Docket #C-06), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Room N-2625, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments of less than 10 pages can be faxed to (202) 693-1648 (include Docket #C-06). Finally, electronic comments may be placed through OSHA's web site at http://ecomments.osha.gov.
OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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