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By: Thomas Carson

Your VPP Program Isn’t Just About Safety

With spring around the corner, Sospes is starting to gear up for the first professional safety conventions of the season. If you are seeking to up your safety game, the upcoming VPPPA Region VI in Corpus Christi, Texas is a well-planned, well-executed show with high-value presentations and strong vendor support.

OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is just that: a voluntary program of disciplined processes and procedures that result in safety performance well in excess of that required to simply meet minimum OSHA requirements.

The requirements of VPP are similar to those imposed by a number of agencies including the international ISO45001 standard, and most are common sense for an organization seeking to implement a framework to manage current safety programs and improve future performance. VPP has the advantage of being very accessible with a large US-based support group.

For a useful summary comparison of the major recognized safety standards, check out this Voluntary Standards Crosswalk on the OSHA website.

There are a number of important benefits attributable to high performing EHS programs beyond safer operations (and related cost savings), including higher employee engagement, lower employee turnover and continual performance improvement. According to OSHA, injury and illness rates at VPP sites on average are 50 percent below industry norms. Fewer injuries and illnesses mean greater savings for employers as workers’ compensation premiums and other costs plummet. Reduced absenteeism and insurance premiums along with increased productivity make VPP sites more competitive. Plus, safer workplaces increase morale and a feeling of ownership among employees and improve the relationship between labor and management.

Many organizations may not appreciate just how far-reaching the benefits can be. In our work we have seen how the disciplines supported by VPP actually drive operating improvements that can be measured outside of the safety function across the organization. When we ask our customers about this dynamic, they agree. It turns out that skills learned, and habits formed from engaging in EHS disciplines can contribute to more generalized awareness – without even noticing.

This concept was clearly understood by Mr. Miyagi in the original Karate Kid movie. Remember “Wax on, wax off, Daniel-san”? Tired and frustrated after days of seemingly mundane chores unrelated to karate, Daniel decides to storm out. Instead, Mr. Miyagi demonstrates how the repetitive motions required by the chores became the fundamental muscle memory skills needed in karate moves.

Continual improvement is important to an organization’s ability to grow and prosper. Safety is a mission that most employees will actively support when they believe that management is genuinely committed and their contributions are visibly valued. Just as Daniel learned karate skills without knowing it, so can safety programs turn out to be a great platform for teaching fundamental skills that lead to awareness of operational improvement opportunities and willingness to share knowledge.

This dynamic is one of the reasons that supports claims that safety is good for organizations in ways that go beyond safety performance. It is also important to consider when thinking about the return on investment expected from EHS software.

We have helped many of our customers follow their path to improved safety performance. Let us help you do the same. In any case, don’t give up in frustration like Daniel almost did. With the right EHS software, meeting your safety challenges can be easier – and more far-reaching – than you ever expected.

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