By James L. Curtis, Mark A. Lies, II, Adam R. Young, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth SynopsisCintas Corporation has recently become the first company to reach 100 sites with OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) (Program) Star certification.

OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have “implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.”  While in the Program, company “management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement.”

The authority for the VPP is Section (2)(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which declares the Congress’s intent “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources – by encouraging employers and employees in their efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at their places of employment, and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions.”  See All About VPP.

To participate in the Program, employers must submit an “application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals.  Union support is required for applicants represented by a bargaining unit.  VPP participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs.  VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.”

Concerning the Program, OSHA shares that “by participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs … many employers have improved their workplace safety and health management systems and implemented activities or procedures that have produced outstanding results and contributed to improved safety and health for workers.  The VPP has a 20+ year history, and the average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate that is 52% below the average for its industry.”  OSHA suggests that VPP participation can also “lead to lower employee turnover and increased productivity and cost savings.”

Cintas Corporation has recently become the first company to reach 100 sites with VPP Star certification from OSHA.  As noted in the Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, the Company’s “Dayton, Ohio location became its 100th VPP location in early 2019.  “Safety is woven into the DNA of Cintas’ culture, and we are extremely proud of this accomplishment,” Scott Farmer, Cintas Chairman and CEO, was quoted saying that “nearly 45,000 Cintas employee-partners across the country go to work every day, and it is our mission to make sure everyone goes home safe.” “Safety is woven into the DNA of Cintas’ culture, and we are extremely proud of this accomplishment.”

The Occupational Health & Safety Magazine also recently noted that the Indiana Department of Labor announced that all of Cintas’s sixteen sites in Indiana had achieved Star status in the state’s Voluntary Protection Program.  “Cintas Corporation’s achievement is extraordinary, unmatched by any other Hoosier company, and has taken many years to accomplish,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble.  “We applaud Cintas for its exceptional commitment to protecting workers, not just in the Hoosier state, but across the country.”

It is notable that Dr. David Michaels and previous OSHA officials in the Obama Administration took a negative outlook to the VPP, tried to eliminate VPP funding, and curtailed new employers and worksites from joining.  Therefore, any employers that may have an interest in making a VPP Program application may wish to act while the Agency and political climate advance the Program.

For more information on the VPP Program or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.