OSHA Admits Program Flaws, in Response to Student Petition

In March, as part of a practial seminar in environmental litigation, University of Texas School of Law students petitioned the Ooccupational Health and Safety Administration to make changes to a program intended to reward high-performing workplaces and to encourage greater voluntary safety measures.

Working under the name University of Texas Regulatory Oversight Group (UTROG), the students identified several critical flaws in the OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and petitioned for the agency to address these flaws through a formal rulemaking.

In its response to UTROG, OSHA declined to amend the program due to “current budgetary constraints” but acknowledged VPP’s shortcomings.

“We share your belief that making more information regarding VPP participants available via the OSHA Web site will increase transparency, accountability and accessibility within the program,” wrote Douglas J. Kalinowski, OSHA’s director of cooperative and state programs. “We also agree that increased accessibility of this information will help share VPP participant experiences and best practices … [W]e will definitely explore ways to implement your suggestions as part of a larger effort to improve the program and address the VPP Review Team recommendations.”