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The Voluntary Protection Program operated by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is an excellent way for employers to challenge themselves and their employees to achieve a higher standard of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
Data results indicate that the program is having a significant impact on the injury and illness rates at the state’s VPP sites.
Currently, there are 38 companies and more than 24,000 employees participating in the VPP program in Tennessee. The sites have experienced injury and illness rates 70 percent below their respective industry averages. In 2012, seven of the state’s VPP sites experienced zero recordable injuries.
The criteria for participation in TOSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program are rigorous. The award is highly coveted and currently possessed by 38 sites, including Frito Lay in Lincoln County.
In order to qualify to be a VPP site, candidates must demonstrate that they have performed in a manner that is below the national average for injury and illness rates in their industrial classification. They must also have all of the critical safety and health management system components in place and involve their employees in all safety and health issues.
“VPP is the state’s most prestigious recognition for excellence in the area of safety and health program management,” said TOSHA Assistant administrator Jim Flanagan. “TOSHA maintains the standards for FPP participation at a high level and is honored to partner with the 38 sites that are striving to achieve safety and health excellence.”
The potential benefits to being a VPP participant include improved employee motivation to work safely, leading to better quality and productivity; reduced workers’ compensation costs; and recognition in the community. VPP participant sites generally experience 60-80 percent fewer lost workday injuries than would be expected of an “average” site of the same size in their industries.
In the VPP program, employees and TOSHA work cooperatively to implement the elements of effective safety and health management. The program is periodically reviewed by TOSHA to ensure all the elements are being met, and all parties work diligently to continuously improve the system.
ITW Dynatec has been a VPP site since 2005.
“As a company, we wanted to achieve excellence in every aspect of our business, and we wanted to give our people the safest and healthiest work environment possible to ensure they go home in the same condition in which they came to work,” said ITW Dynatec HR Manager/Safety Coordinator Denise Steiner. ‘The process of becoming VPP-certified was rigorous, as it should be. We involved every one of our employees in the quest. We now have a self-sustaining program that confirms safety as our number one priority. Our people are proud of being a VPP company and are excited about safety.”
For more information about the VPP program and how your facility can participate, contact the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration at (800) 325-9901.