Why Does TOSHA Need To Come To My Site?
TOSHA must verify that the safety and health program described in your VPP application is fully operational and addresses all potential hazards at the site.
Who Comes On A VPP Onsite Review?
The onsite team usually consists of a team leader, a safety specialist, an industrial hygienist and a back-up leader. All of these team members are acting in a non-enforcement mode.
When Will They Come?
A TOSHA VPP representative will call you to arrange a mutually convenient time.
How Long Will TOSHA Stay?
Usually about five days, depending on the size of your facility and/or the complexity of your operations. The team may request administrative support.
Do I Have To Wait Until the End of the Review To Find Out My Chances of Being Approved?
The team leader will discuss the day's accomplishments with your designated representatives at the end of each day. What remains to be done will also be discussed to give you an idea of how the review is going.
The recommendation of the team regarding approval of your site will be based on its comprehensive assessment of your operations in relation to the VPP requirements. This cannot be done until the review is complete. The team makes a recommendation based on the information.
What Will The Team Be Doing While It Is Onsite?
The team performs a review that includes several steps:
- Initial meeting
- Document review
- Formal and informal interviews
- Closing meeting
The team will hold a brief introductory meeting with you and your key people. Anyone who may be called upon to assist the team should attend. Employees who are accountable for meeting or maintaining VPP requirements also should attend. The team leader will describe the VPP approach, and what the team expects to accomplish. You will have the opportunity to point out special accomplishments that may not be part of your application.
Records are examined to verify implementation of your safety and health program. This typically takes one or two days. A private area such as a conference room will be needed for the document review.
Prior to the onsite visit, the team leader will confer with you about materials the team will want to see. Collection of these materials beforehand will greatly facilitate the review. Documents and programs typically requested during a VPP onsite review include:
- OSHA log and workers' compensation first reports of injury for the last 3 complete calendar years and year-to-date
- Hours worked
- Comprehensive health and safety surveys identifying potential hazards
- Industrial hygiene monitoring and sampling records
- Sample safety and health training materials for supervisors and employees, along with attendance records
- Routine general inspection reports, with documentation of hazard correction
- Documentation of employees reports of safety and health concerns and evidence of steps taken toward correction Accident/incident investigation reports
- Plant safety and health rules
- Hazard analysis procedures and results, with safe work procedures
- Personal protective equipment programs
- Emergency preparedness program (i.e., fire, evacuation, emergency shutdown, chemical spill, etc.)
- Medical program
- Safety committee minutes
- Line accountability documentation
- Safety and health program self-evaluation reports
- Site contractor program
- All other applicable programs, including those required by TOSHA standards
Any additional information that shows the quality of the site's safety and health program is also requested.
The OSHA log and first reports of injury should be separated from other materials. This will help the review and recalculation of the injury rates.
While the site representative(s) will have primary responsibility for presenting and answering questions, corporate safety and health staff and other site personnel may assist in liaison with the TOSHA team.
The review team specialists will walk through the pertinent areas of the facility to assure that the program is fully operational. They will assess the adequacy of the program to handle potential hazards. This typically takes 1 to 2 days.
The walkthrough is not an enforcement inspection, but if the team notes any hazards, you will be expected to correct the problems.
The team will have brief, informal interviews with randomly selected employees. The talks will be held near employee workstations to minimize any work interruption.
What will happen if the team sees a violation of TOSHA standards?
TOSHA's safety and health professionals will be looking for evidence that your program is creating and maintaining safe and healthful working conditions. Any hazards they may observe will serve as indicators that some aspect of your program may need improvement.
While they won't issue citations, safety and health professionals will not ignore hazards. They will work with you to determine how and when to correct any hazards they see. If corrections require more time than the onsite review allows, you will be asked to notify your TOSHA VPP Program Manager when corrections are completed. Should all attempts at cooperative resolution fail, the VPP team has a responsibility to recommend to the Assistant Secretary that enforcement action be taken.
Formal confidential interviews will be requested with a small number of your employees and, where applicable, contractor employees. These interviews will help to validate employee awareness of and participation in the overall safety and health program.
Each formal interview will last about 25 minutes and will be scheduled with the consent of management. A private space will be requested for these interviews. All questions asked will relate to the safety and health program.
Why Does TOSHA Need To Talk To Employees?
TOSHA talks with randomly selected workers (with management's permission) to gauge overall employee awareness of and involvement in the program, and to determine their understanding of what VPP approval would mean. Your program will succeed only if everyone becomes involved and exercises responsibility. Talking to workers is the best way to determine their commitment. The impact of any negative comments by an employee will depend on the extent to which they are corroborated by other team findings and on the gravity of the problem they reflect.
n small businesses, where a safety and health program may be too informal for adequate documentation, interviews with workers, supervisors and managers are crucial, evidence in establishing the program's effectiveness.
Making workers a part of the onsite review emphasizes their importance in making the health and safety program work.
The team may develop a rough draft of the pre-approval review report before it leaves. This may require a room to work in and other assistance as needed. Writing the draft report usually takes about one day. You will have an opportunity to review and discuss the written report before it is made final
Before leaving, the team will have a closing meeting to discuss its findings and recommendations. If prepared, the draft report also will be presented.
If the team finds you do not meet the requirements of the program you applied for, it may suggest another program.
If the team thinks that additional work needs to be done before approval into VPP, it may make recommendations and allow a reasonable period of time, up to 90 days, for the work to be completed.
What If I Choose Not To Do What the Team Deems Necessary to Meet VPP Requirements?
TOSHA knows that because you volunteered for this program, you have a great deal of faith in what the Voluntary Protection Program stands for. We try to make the review process as convenient as possible, but should you decide against what is necessary to meet the VPP requirements, you have the option of withdrawing your application rather than having it denied.
If you choose to withdraw or you are not recommended for approval, you still must correct any hazards the team identifies. Also, TOSHA will return your application and discard all notes except for one complete set. This set is retained for a year in case you have further questions. After one year it is discarded in its entirety. While these documents are in our possession, they are only internal working documents with confidentiality protected.
We've been recommended! What Happens Next?
The report is sent to the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development for approval. The Commissioner sends a letter to the site manager (or other appropriate official) announcing TOSHA's approval of your site for participation in the VPP. TOSHA encourages approved worksites to hold a ceremony where a certificate and flag will be presented.
Contact Jim Flanagan, Star Program Manager at (615) 741-5421 or via e-mail at James.Flanagan@tn.gov for more information regarding the STAR programs or to obtain an application package.
Volunteer Protection Programs Participants:
Federal OSHA VPP Page
Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association VPPPA
Region IV Voluntary Protection Program
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Ph: (615) 741-2793
Fax: (615) 253-1623
Toll Free: 1-800-325-9901
Fax: (615) 253-1623