A bipartisan effort in Congress would make sure that an OSHA assistance program sticks around.
Right now, OSHA could eliminate or cut back on its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) if it wanted to. Two newly introduced (and identical) bills, S. 807 and H.R. 1511, would require VPP under law.
VPP recognizes companies that have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.
As federal budgets become tighter, VPP has been a target for cuts. Alternatively, the Obama administration has proposed requiring companies to pay a fee to participate in the program.
The bill would ban the federal government from charging companies for participation in the program.
Inspection exemptions would continue except for investigations arising from employee complaints, fatalities, catastrophes or significant toxic releases.
OSHA would also be required to take steps to increase small business participation in VPP.
OSHA administrator David Michaels has said that under his direction, the agency would focus more on compliance and less on programs such as VPP.
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