Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Should facilities where a fatality has occurred remain in the federal government’s “model workplace” program? It’s a question that’s dogged the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for years.
OSHA published a new policy June 4, 2013, detailing steps the agency will take when a death or three serious injuries that require hospitalizations occur at a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) site. Fatalities or catastrophic accidents at VPP worksites will now trigger inquiries that could lead to OSHA’s removing a site from the safety program, as well as high-level scrutiny from federal authorities, according to the memorandum from Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels.
“There needs to be a continuing focus on fatalities among contractors at VPP sites,” Michaels said at the American Industrial Hygiene conference in May. “Some of the fatalities had clear, preventable causes, and it raises questions whether that employer should be in VPP.”
To be accepted into the program, an employer must apply to state or federal OSHA offices, then undergo an onsite evaluation, implement effective safety and health management programs, and maintain injury and illness rates below the national averages for its industry. In exchange, VPP members are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections. As of March 2013, there were more than 2,000 employers participating in the VPP, according to OSHA data.
In 2009 the Government Accountability Office discovered that 30 VPP sites had fatalities over a five-year period. Some facilities had OSHA violations related to the fatalities but remained in the program even though they no longer met the definition of an exemplary workplace for safety. OSHA responded to the GAO report and said it was committed to fixing any problems with the program. In November 2011 an internal review board recommended that the agency issue a directive on handling fatalities at VPP worksites.
The policy is effective immediately and defines a new “status” during the inspection and enforcement period for participating companies at which a fatality or catastrophe occurs.
If the incident triggers an enforcement inspection, the status of the VPP participant will be changed within 10 days to “inactive pending fatality/catastrophe inspection.”
While that designation is pending, the business cannot display the VPP insignia. After the inspection is completed, one of the following two scenarios will occur:
“While a large part of the memorandum is process-oriented, I am struck by the initial notification requirements to the national office in the event of a fatality or catastrophe,” said Brad Hammock, partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Jackson Lewis and leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health practice group. The national office will be keenly involved in the investigation and any citations issued, Hammock told SHRM Online. “In addition, the highest levels of the agency will also be involved in determining continued participation in the program after the investigation is complete. VPP participants and those companies interested in applying for VPP status need to be cognizant of this high-level involvement.”
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.
OSHA’s ‘Model Workplaces’ to Face Greater Scrutiny, SHRM Online Safety & Security, September 2012
SHRM OnlineSafety & Security page
Keep up with the latest Safety & Security HR news
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies