ASSE: Valero says VPP helped its contractors

Valero Energy Corp. said the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) helped its contractors implement comprehensive safety and health management systems. VPP is a cooperative program offered by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO, June 29 -- Valero Energy Corp. said the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) helped its contractors implement comprehensive safety and health management systems. VPP is a cooperative program offered by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Sean Gillilan, a senior health and safety specialist for Valero, told a meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) that seven contractors at the company’s 205,000-b/cd Bill Greehey Refinery in Corpus Christi, Tex., achieved injury and illness rates below the national average.

"The more companies that are working with successful safety and health programs, the safer the refinery will be," Gillilan said. "The companies that embrace the VPP concept of continuous improvement are no longer stagnant in safety but are now constantly improving every year."

Valero has 11 worksites in 5 states participating in VPP. Nationwide, VPP participation encompasses more than 2,200 worksites covering more than 800,000 workers. Numerous oil and gas companies participate.

Recently, the Government Accountability Office issued a report suggesting OSHA strengthen VPP’s oversight activity and documentation to ensure consistency with existing OSHA polities.

“First, OSHA has not developed performance goals or measures to assess the performance of the program,” the GAO report said. OSHA exempts VPP sites from routine inspections although these sites are subject to inspections following fatalities, serious injuries, and complaints from workers about safety and health hazards.

VPP sites are required to have injury and illness rates below the average rates for their industries as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These rates must be below the average industry rates for 1 of the most recent 3 years.

OSHA is responsible for the initial approval of all VPP sites. Once approved, VPP participants commit to continuously improve workplace safety and employees health, maintaining low injury and illness rates. Participants report annually to OSHA.

ASSE represents more than 32,000 occupational safety, health, and environmental professionals worldwide.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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