Q: What is the Green Mountain Voluntary Protection Program?
A: The Green mountain Voluntary Protection Programs (GMVPP) is a cooperative compliance partnership with Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) designed to recognize and promote effective safety and health management. The VPP concept recognizes that enforcement of safety regulations alone can never fully achieve the objectives of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Good safety management programs that go beyond OSHA standards can protect employees more effectively than simple compliance.
Therefore, GMVPP is NOT "just another program," it is really a "process" that defines a single system and structured approach to help achieve the goal of working more safely. VPP has been described as both an "umbrella" and as a "roadmap," focusing on four key areas necessary to have a comprehensive safety and health program. Those key areas are:
- Management Leadership and Employee Involvement
- Worksite Analysis
- Hazard Prevention and Control
- Safety and Health Training
Q: Is there any difference between the Green Mountain VPP and the Federal VPP program?
A: Because Vermont is a “state plan state” the VPP program is offered through the state, just as compliance services are similarly offered. However the Vermont VPP program is modeled very closely to the program offered by Region 1, Federal OSHA. The requirements for admission and continuance in either program are virtually the same.
Q: How will my company benefit from participation in the GMVPP?
A: While there are many benefits that can be realized from participation in GMVPP, the most common ones are:
· Improved employee motivation to work safely, leading to better quality and productivity
· Lost Workday Case rates that are generally 60% to 80% below average for companies of the same size and industry
· Reduced workers' compensation and other injury and illness-related costs
· Positive community recognition and interaction
· Further improvement of already good programs through the internal and external reviews that are part of the application process and through annual evaluation of their programs
· Access to the resources and expertise of a larger community of safety and health professionals
· Partnership with VOSHA
Q: Won’t GMVPP just mean a lot of extra paperwork that doesn’t make my program any better?
A: There is some paperwork required in the application process. However you are encouraged to use as much existing documents as possible. GMVPP reviewers don’t look for a single correct way to meet GMVPP requirements. They want to see a system that works for you. Some successful safety and health management systems involve substantial documentation and others do not. Small businesses in particular, often are able to implement excellent safety and health processes with little documentation.
Q: How do I apply for participation in GMVPP?
A: You must submit a written application to the Vermont Department of Labor, Voluntary Protection Program. The application guidelines are included in the GMVPP Information Kit. After your written application and all necessary documents have been reviewed, an on-site review will be scheduled.
Q: How long does it take after submitting the GMVPP application for a company to be ready for the GMVPP Star certification audit?
A: The length of time required for preparation is different for each company. While some companies may only need minor modifications to their existing programs, others may be starting from scratch.
Q: How do I know if my company will qualify for participation?
A: A Self Assessment Check List is included in the application package. If your company meets the criteria in the checklist, or could within a short period of time, your company is probably ready to apply for participation in the GMVPP.
Q: If I apply for membership in GMVPP, is it required that my worksite be approved at the Star Level?
A: Applicants who are found to have good safety and health management systems, but must take additional steps to meet Star quality, can be considered for Merit status if;
1) The review team determines the employer has shown a commitment to reaching Star Status.
2) The employer has the resources and is statistically able to attain Star status within three years.
Q: What happens if my worksite is approved at the Merit level?
A: Your site will realize virtually the same benefits as those at the Star level, however a plan will be established, which will allow your worksite to achieve Star level within the required three years. This plan will include “Merit Goals” which will identify the steps to be taken to improve any deficient areas of your program, and the timeframe in which they will be accomplished.
Q: I am a small employer, how can I possibly expect to meet GMVPP requirements for membership?
A: GMVPP is a systematic approach to managing employee safety and health at the worksite. The criteria that GMVPP uses, is performance based and recognizes flexibility in achieving the desired results. Over years of application of the program, VPP has proven both attainable and beneficial to small employers. In fact the majority of worksites* which are VPP members have less than 100 employees.
*Statistics available in federal states only
Q: My business has more than one worksite throughout the state. Do I have to fill out separate applications for each site?
A: If the worksites are separated by distances that prevent an effective, single on site evaluation, and/or the worksite is operating under distinctly separate management systems, than separate applications are required.
Q: Some employees at my company are represented by a union and are covered under a collective bargaining agreement. Does that make a difference?
A: The union representatives will play a critical roll in the entire GMVPP process, so the union(s) that represents your employees must provide written support of the GMVPP and include that with the GMVPP application. No GMVPP application will be approved without the formal support of all collective bargaining agents.
A: The GMVPP review team must verify that the safety and health program described in your GMVPP application is fully operational and addresses all potential hazards at the site.
Q: Why does VOSHA need to come to my site?
Q: Who comes on a GMVPP onsite review?
A: That depends on how large your facility is. Normally the onsite team consists of a team leader, a backup team leader, a safety specialist, an industrial hygienist and an administrative person. Most team members will be employees of VOSHA but some may be volunteer safety and health professionals from current GMVPP Star sites.
Q: What will happen if the team discovers an apparent violation of VOSHA standards during the certification audit?
A: VOSHA safety and health professionals will be looking for evidence that your program is creating and maintaining safe and healthful working conditions. Hazards they may observe can 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 GMVPP Coordinator when corrections are completed.
Q: Do I have to wait until the end of the review to find out my chances of being approved?
A: The recommendation of the GMVPP team regarding approval of your site will be based on a comprehensive assessment of your operations in relation to the VPP requirements, so a recommendation cannot be made until the review is complete. However, the GMVPP team leader will discuss the team's observations with your designated representatives at the end of each day so that you will know how the review is progressing.
Q: We've been recommended as a Star worksite! What happens next?
A: The GMVPP team report and recommendation are sent to the Commissioner, Vermont Dept. of Labor for approval. If approved by the Commissioner, a letter and a copy of the final report will be sent to the site manager and GMVPP Coordinator announcing approval of your site as a Star Worksite. In most cases the company will hold a ceremony where the Commissioner or other DOLI representative presents a GMVPP Star flag and a certificate of recognition.
Q: Once my site is approved as a Star Worksite, is that it?
A: Reaching Star status is not the end, but really just the beginning. As a Star Worksite you not only have a responsibility to strive for continuous improvement in your own safety programs, you also have a responsibility to support the GMVPP by mentoring other companies that are seeking Star status. In some cases you're company can also support the GMVPP by sponsoring volunteer GMVPP team members, called Special Government Employees. You can also participate in the VPPPA, which is a private, non-profit organization that works to support the goals of the VPP.
Q: So what is mentoring anyway?
A: Mentors inform, counsel, train, and assist other establishments with reducing injuries and illnesses. All Star sites agree to mentor other establishments that have an interest and desire to improve their safety and health management systems and work towards becoming Star worksites.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: The GMVPP Coordinator can help you with any questions you have about the application process, self-assessment, or any other questions pertaining to GMVPP.