Leadership Perspectives Blog

VPP Act Is On the Move in Congress

You can’t get anything done in Washington, especially in a topsy-tury election year like this one.  At least that’s what the experts say.

The experts must have forgotten to tell the Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA).

Last week, two U.S. senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee proposed S. 2881, the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Act.  Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) proposed the bill to make VPP a permanent part of the workplace safety picture under OSHA. 

Congressmen Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Gene Green (D-TX) and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) proposed an identical bill, H.R. 2500, in the House of Representatives last year, and that bill enjoys the support of 31 co-sponsors from both parties. Earlier this year, the Obama administration signaled its support for VPP by proposing budget language to keep the program funded, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez signaled a desire to expand the program.

VPP recognizes workers and managers who use best practices to enhance workplace safety and health.  VPP worksites reduce injuries and illnesses significantly for approximately one million American workers in traditionally hazardous occupations at 2,200 worksites, including 700 participating local unions.

“Worker safety is a bipartisan issue,” said Mike Maddox, chairman of VPPPA.  “The workers and businesses that make VPP a success are encouraged to see this level of support from the Administration and Congress.”

Virginia made history last year by passing a bipartisan bill to make it the second state after Indiana to codify VPP at the urging of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), with support from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia AFL-CIO, the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, VPPPA and other safety organizations, and many participating employers and local unions.

You may identify and contact your congressional representatives on this and other important safety legislation by going to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

Courtney Malveaux is a regulatory, government affairs and employment attorney who represents employers in OSHA citations at ThompsonMcMullan, P.C. in Richmond, Va. An experienced litigator, he served as Virginia’s labor commissioner through October 2013, and as president of the National Association of Government Labor Officials.  Malveaux represents industrial employers on the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board, and serves as counsel to the new Safety and Health Subcommittee of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.  He can be reached at (804) 698-6242 or at CMalveaux@t-mlaw.com.

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