VPP Policy Update
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in the spirit of continual improvement, has issued instructions strengthening its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) with regard to the implementation of company incentive programs. The VPP was established as a way for companies to create a working relationship with OSHA and receive recognition if their safety statistics are lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) averages for their industry. Many companies have created programs that promote increased safety awareness and participation throughout their workforce. The latest memorandum from OSHA acts to clarify the requirements of such programs. Incentive programs are those that reward employees for their honesty and feedback with regard to reporting incidents and providing proactive suggestions toward improving the safety culture around their workplace. These programs support company commitment to employee safety. Incentives usually range from t-shirts to company parties and should not single out or discipline employees that report incidents and injuries. Incentive programs that focus on the number of injuries and reports have now been deemed “disincentives” by OSHA as they tend to celebrate lower injury rates over a period of time or for typically meeting lagging safety goals that have been set. These programs have shown to drive down incident reporting, therefore decrease the number of reports for injuries and near misses due to fear of ruining the chances of a reward for themselves or rest of the group. The VPP has provided new instructions to give applicants and current members proper guidelines for incentive programs. These incentive programs will be evaluated and companies will be given feedback to ensure their program does not discourage reporting. By following the instructions in an acceptable incentive program, employees are given the ability to report incidents truthfully to improve the workplace for all employees. This is another step in promoting safety culture for participants in the VPP and anyone considering adding an incentive program to their organization. If you would like more information regarding the Voluntary Protection Program, please visit their website at https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/vpp/index.html.