VPP certification is obtained through teamwork, one piece at a time. VPP certification is a formal affirmation from OSHA that your safety and health management system is among the best in the nation.

OSHA VPP Certification: Brick by Brick

The Workplace Today Regulation

Here’s a closer look at the OSHA VPP certification and how your organization can achieve this affirmation at being top in health and safety management.

Masons start their masterpieces brick by brick, carefully and skillfully placing each in its place. As time passes, they come closer and closer to achieving their mission until one day they do through persistence and the skill of their mastery. With Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP, everyone is a mason. Everyone has a brick or two to contribute to the success of the organization, and everyone counts on the next one to do their part. Eventually, the collective team achieves its mission: the VPP Star, a masterpiece in its own regard.

Achieving OSHA Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP, certification is a formal affirmation from OSHA that your safety and health management system is among the best in the nation. VPP is OSHA’s flagship recognition program designed to recognize sites with exemplary safety and health management systems and is the only one OSHA plays a collaborative role in implementing.

VPP certification means that your site has met the rigorous criteria set forth by OSHA and that you agree to go above and beyond compliance to protect your workers and contractors on an ongoing basis. Like any certification from a reputable third-party organization, OSHA’s VPP Star demonstrates a company’s commitment to being the best at what they do.

OSHA’s VPP Certification

VPP is a robust safety management system and a foundational structure for you to build your safety and health program around. Like most safety management systems, you say what you do, and do what you say. VPP does have one major focus area which sets it apart: the insightful focus on management leadership and employee engagement.

The usual process starts with an organizational commitment to seeking VPP certification. The decision to pursue VPP impacts everyone at every level and all entities who support your organization.

The following abridged steps are typical of a VPP process which may vary by jurisdiction:

  1. Contact your OSHA state or federal VPP coordinator to express interest.
  2. The VPP coordinator conducts several site visits to assess actual interest, establish expectations and perform a 40,000-foot gap analysis.
  3. A mentor is assigned to help you throughout the VPP preparation process.
  4. Once your VPP coordinator and mentor agree that you are ready, you file a VPP application.
  5. The VPP coordinator performs a rigorous on-site and multi-step assessment with a team of experienced VPP safety and health professionals.
  6. If successful, your site will be designated as VPP Star, VPP Merit or VPP Star Demonstration.

VPP Star is the highest level of recognition from OSHA followed by VPP Merit and VPP Star Demonstration. Both Merit and Star Demonstration are conditional statuses and stepping stones to achieving VPP Star.

How to Prepare

The VPP safety management system focuses on five key areas:

  • Management Leadership and Employee Involvement, which involves commitment and organization; authority and responsibility, accountability and resources; goals, planning and self-evaluation; employee involvement and notification; and contract workers’ safety and health.
  • Worksite Analysis, which covers baseline hazard analysis; hazard analysis of routine jobs, tasks and processes; hazard analysis of significant changes; self-inspections and employee reports and hazards; and accident and incident investigations and trend analysis.
  • Hazard Prevention and Control, which covers a hierarchy of control and the enforcement of safety and health rules; predictive/preventive maintenance; and occupational health care program and emergency preparedness.
  • Safety and Health Training
  • Injury and Illness Performance

According to OSHA, “The VPP has a 30-plus year history and the average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate that is 52 percent below the average for its industry. VPP participation can also lead to lower employee turnover and increased productivity and cost savings.”

J.A. Rodriguez Jr.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, is the CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC and a global Fortune 100 senior manager. Rodriguez was honored to be selected by EHS Today Magazine as one of "The 50 People Who Most Influenced environmental, health and safety in 2012-2013" and "2014 - 2015."