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Lawmakers have introduced legislation to make permanent a voluntary program for employers aimed at protecting workers.
The bill, S.B. 904, introduced Wednesday by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would make the U.S. Department of Labor’s Voluntary Protection Program Act a permanent workplace health and safety program for both public and private employers.
The VPP, which has been in existence since 1982 and is operated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, encourages workplaces to incorporate voluntary programs to protect worker safety and health and reduces OSHA inspections on workplaces that prove a commitment to safety and have a record of compliance with standards. However, the VPP has encountered funding challenges over the years.
“As a former small business owner, I understand the importance of maintaining a safe workplace as well as the burdens that can be imposed by federal regulations,” said Sen. Enzi in a release. “The Voluntary Protection Program has a proven record of encouraging health and safety in the workplace along with saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars by avoiding injuries and illnesses. It is time we make this successful program permanent to ensure that it can help more of our businesses.”
The bill’s bipartisan counterpart, H.B. 1956, was introduced in the House on Thursday and has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Electronics manufacturer Shermco Industries' Irving, Texas, campus was recognized in 2015 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program, which focuses on employers who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national averages for their respective industries.