OSHA's VPP: How to Become a Star Site
Taking part in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs is a great way to ensure that your workplace is both safe and productive.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) assist companies in improving their safety and health management systems and reducing their illness and injury rates. The VPP is voluntary and based on a partnership between employers, employees, and OSHA, with the goal of promoting proactive, collaborative approaches to workplace safety.
Companies that participate in the VPP and either meet or exceed OSHA's standards are designated as "star sites." Achieving star site status requires a significant commitment of time, resources, and effort. But it is well worth the investment, since it results in improved safety, fewer accidents and injuries, and increased productivity. Furthermore, it affords you the added benefit of being autonomous in your safety efforts and being acknowledged as a trusted organization within your industry.
Being a star site also helps other aspects of your business, such as attracting partnerships and other key stakeholders. Moreover, it demonstrates a level of responsibility that makes a more compelling case for potential contractors thinking about working with you.
Ready to transform the way you tackle workplace safety? Here are some key steps you can take to successfully participate in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs.
Understand the VPP Requirements
Before a company can participate in the VPP, it must understand the requirements of the programs. These include:
- A history of implementing effective EHS management systems
- Injury and illness rates below the national average for its industry
- A commitment to ongoing improvement in its safety efforts
For a more detailed breakdown of whether your workplace qualifies or not, consult OSHA’s guide on eligibility requirements.
Develop a Comprehensive EHS System
To become a star site, a company must develop and implement a comprehensive health and safety management system that meets or exceeds OSHA's requirements.
Key elements of a comprehensive system include:
- Management leadership
- Employee involvement
- Worksite analysis
- Hazard prevention
- Hazard control measures
- Safety and health training
The system should be tailored to the specific needs of the company and its industry, and should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the workplace or industry.
(Learn more in A Primer on Administrative Controls)
Engage Employees in Your EHS Program
Employee involvement is a critical component of a successful organization, both from a safety and productivity standpoint. Employees are often the best source of information about workplace hazards and can provide valuable feedback on the effectiveness of EHS programs and policies.
Companies that want to become star sites should engage their employees in the development and implementation of their health and safety procedures. This can be accomplished through regular meetings, employee training programs, and feedback mechanisms such as suggestion boxes and anonymous reporting systems.
Conduct Regular Audits and Inspections
To ensure that its safety management system is effective and up to date, an organization must conduct audits and inspections of its workplace. Furthermore, these audits should be conducted by trained EHS professionals who are familiar with the company's industry and the hazards associated with its operations.
Audits and inspections should be conducted on a regular basis and should focus on identifying potential hazards and developing strategies to prevent accidents and injuries. Companies that conduct regular audits and inspections are better able to identify potential hazards and take proactive steps to address them before they lead to unfortunate incidents.
(Learn about The Proper Way to Conduct a Safety Audit)
Use Technology to Manage Your Efforts
Safety involves a lot of moving parts, and having to account for each of them manually is a surefire way to fall behind. Thankfully, this is entirely optional. Organizations now have access to endless options of affordable, intuitive, and easy-to-use tools to improve workplace safety.
Whether it’s contractor management software, a visitor sign-in system, or reporting software, ensure that you’re taking advantage of all the tools at your disposal to ensure accuracy in your safety program.
Implement Effective Incident Reporting and Management Systems
Under OSHA’s general standards, all companies must have an effective injury and illness reporting and management system in place. This system should include procedures for reporting incidents, investigating the causes of accidents and injuries, and developing strategies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
An effective injury and illness reporting and management system should also include procedures for tracking and analyzing injury and illness data, developing corrective actions to address identified issues, and communicating with employees and management about risk and incident prevention strategies.
Commit to Ongoing Improvement
To achieve and maintain star site status, an organization must commit to ongoing improvement in its safety efforts. This means keeping up with existing successes while proactively building upon them using the lessons learned along the way.
With the pace at which health and safety moves, organizations cannot afford to be complacent and must remain aware of any and all developments. Whether you’re just beginning to implement your safety program or are well-versed in the concept and have been doing it for years, a commitment to continuous improvement is beneficial at all stages.
Successful participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs is an achievable goal. By following these key steps and embracing a proactive and collaborative approach to safety, your organization can create a safer workplace, enhance productivity, and enjoy the long-term benefits of being a star site.