It was 1982.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) to partner with businesses to manage worker safety and health. Over time, VPP participants achieved, on average, injury rates 52 percent lower than other companies in their industry.
In 2001, the Postal Service became the first federal organization to participate in OSHA’s corporate pilot program with the blessing of its four major unions — the American Postal Workers Union, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Mail Handlers Union and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.
The Pittsburgh Air Mail Center and the Albany Vehicle Maintenance Facility were first to be accepted into the program. Since then, 176 postal facilities nationwide have earned VPP bragging rights — from small Post Offices to major processing plants.
VPP empowers every employee to identify and correct hazards in the office and out on their mail routes. The program helps create a better and safer place to work for every employee, and fosters a spirit of cooperation and trust between unions, management and OSHA to improve safety.
To become a VPP site, an application is submitted and reviewed by OSHA followed by a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.
Chagrin Falls, OH, Main Post Office employees raise the VPP flag after being named a VPP Star site.
After the evaluation and months of meetings, ideas and implementing safety initiatives, the employees at Philadelphia Fox Chase Station were designated an OSHA VPP Star site in 2008. The Star designation is the top VPP honor.
"VPP promotes worksite-based safety and health by enlisting the help of every employee — management and labor — under the guidance of OSHA," said Fox Chase Manager Kate Pembroke. "We have more than a hundred employees here and it took every one to achieve this goal."
OSHA sets the standards — providing training, outreach and education; establishing the partnership; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.
So far in fiscal year 2009, 15 new postal worksites have earned OSHA VPP status: Bedford, TX, Post Office; Hudson, OH, Post Office; Chagrin Falls, OH, Main Post Office; Woodstock, GA, Main Post Office; Elk City, OK, Post Office; El Paso, TX, P&DC; Simi Valley, CA, Main Post Office; South Lake Tahoe, CA, Main Post Office; Pasadena, TX, Jim Fonteno Main Post Office; Quad Cities, IA, P&DF; Princeton, WV, Post Office; Woods Run, PA, Carrier Annex; Covington, KY, Main Post Office; Middleton, NJ, Main Post Office and Southwest Area Office.
Of the nearly 7 million workplaces spread across this nation, just over 2,200 have been designated VPP sites.