Visiting a work site with an IBT Safety & Health professional is an eye-opening and somewhat alarming experience. The two of you can be looking at the same scene and seeing vastly different things.
To an average observer, it will appear that everything is OK. The IBT Safety & Health reviewer will see the situation in much harsher terms. He or she will see potential accidents, just waiting to happen. He or she will see opportunities for fatal injury. He or she will see large OSHA penalties ripe for the citing.
As in any other area of endeavor, the eyes of the expert are more acute than those of the casual observer. For IBT Safety & Health specialists, their training, experience and powers of observation have been developed to a high level in order to understand and notice hazard, regulation and remediation opportunities.
When I’m looking at a job site with a foreman, the power of both our observation skills really reinforce each other,” reports Gary Porter, Director of Consulting and Training for IBT Safety & Health. “Although I’ll have the advantage on understanding safety issues, the fsupervisor will be equally astute on the operational side of the situation. Together, we’ll be able to really see ways to improve the working environment to both lessen safety hazards and increase productivity.”
This combination process can be an important one. It shows that lowering safety hazards is totally compatible with increasing throughput. All companies are interested in getting work done. OSHA regulations are intended to make sure that worker safety is never sacrificed in the quest for output.
“What happens in these dual inspections can be powerful,” Porter continues. “Just as the operations people get an improved grasp of the safety situation through my perspective – I get an equally important understanding of their operational requirements. Not only do the two of us tend to see everything that is critical at that time, we each develop a greater knowledge of the other’s priorities. It makes for a good working relationship from the get-go – one that we build upon as we continue to work together.”
The benefits of a safe workplace are clear: accidents and fines are harmful to a company’s reputation and economic well-being. There are some other ways that emphasizing safety can also be important. One of these is VPP – Voluntary Protection Program.
VPP is an OSHA plan that promotes effective safety and health. IBT Safety & Health can work with a company to implement this program.
In VPP, management, labor and OSHA work together. VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of outstanding efforts in achieving exemplary occupational safety and health.
VPP works by having performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system. Companies apply and then are measured against these criteria. OSHA’s verification includes an application review and a rigorous onsite evaluation by an OSHA team of experts.
At a VPP Company, internal cooperation complements OSHA’s enforcement activity. It does not necessarily replace it. Work inside the company resolves any safety and health problems that may arise. Participating organizations are removed from programmed OSHA inspections. OSHA then focuses its inspection energies on other locations where there are greater needs.
OSHA does continue to investigate valid employee safety and health complaints, fatalities, catastrophes and other significant events that may occur at VPP participant sites.
On a national basis, VPP is clearly working. The average VPP work site has a lost workday incidence rate 52% below the average for its industry. Reductions in injuries and illnesses begin when the site commits to the VPP approach to safety and health management and begins the challenging VPP application process.
Employers are benefited from fewer injuries and illnesses. Greater profits can result as workers’ compensation premiums and other costs plummet.
OSHA gains through VPP by having a corps of ambassadors enthusiastically spreading the message of safety and health system management. These partners also provide OSHA with valuable input and augment its limited resources.
VPP Participants also develop and implement systems to effectively identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards. This prevents injuries and illnesses to employees. Participants are also often on the leading edge of hazard prevention methods and technology. VPP work sites frequently serve as models of safety and health excellence while demonstrating the benefits of a total systems approach to worker protection.
IBT Safety & Health can help a company qualify for VPP. The program requires a comprehensive safety and health management system. It must include four elements and their sub-elements.
The main elements are:
- Management Leadership and Employee Involvement
- Work Site Analysis
- Hazard Prevention and Control
- Safety and Health Training
These elements, when integrated into a site’s daily operations, can reduce the incidence and severity of illnesses and injuries.
To find out more about VPP – and to learn how your organization can join forces with IBT Safety & Health to participate, contact us.