So-called “model workplaces” that won exemptions from regular inspections will now face greater scrutiny, amid concern over deaths and safety breakdowns at some plants held up as industry leaders.
A report suggesting reforms, from a task force of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, comes more than a year after a Center for Public Integrity series revealed that deadly accidents and serious safety violations at these sites had gone largely unpunished by OSHA.
The report about the agency’s Voluntary Protections Programs, known as VPP, recommends that OSHA overhaul its policies for responding to serious accidents at these sites. Regional officials should thoroughly re-evaluate sites that have such problems, the report said, and they should have broader authority to kick out problem workplaces. The agency also should suspend sites while investigations are ongoing, the report recommended.
"This report will serve as a valuable road map for the agency as we continue to address issues present in VPP," Jordan Barab, OSHA's No. 2 official, said in a statement. "In general, we agree with most of the findings of the report, and have already or will be implementing a number of substantive changes to the program based on the recommendations included."