Cal/VPP - Purpose and Description

The California Voluntary protection program (Cal/VPP) is a labor-management-government cooperative program designed to recognize workplaces that manage outstanding health and safety management systems for protection of workers and go beyond minimal compliance with the Cal/OSHA Title 8 California Code of Regulations. The sites with Cal/VPP culture have knowledgeable employees and management who work together in partnership with Cal-OSHA to systematically identify and correct hazards. The program requires continuous improvement of health and safety program at the site.

The concept of the VPP was developed in California during construction of San Onofre nuclear power plant in 1970s. The California Building Trade Council, the National Constructors Association and Cal/OSHA worked together to develop the program in an effort to prevent injuries and illnesses. The program elements included employee's involvement and management commitment to continuously improve and monitor safety and health programs. This program was initially named Cooperative Self Inspection Program. After completion of the project the result was striking. The program was later adopted by Federal OSHA and was renamed as Voluntary Protection Program in 1982.

When employers are approved for participation in the Cal/VPP, they are removed from the routine compliance program inspection lists. However, employers are not removed from valid employee safety and health complaint or fatality/catastrophe investigations. This frees Cal/OSHA's inspection resources for visits to other establishments and industries. As the result of Cal/VPP program, participants enter into a new relationship with Cal/OSHA in which safety and health problems can be approached cooperatively, when they arise.

Participation in Cal/VPP does not diminish or enhance existing employer and employee rights and responsibilities under the Labor Codes. The program is not intended to increase or reduce the liability of any party at an approved Cal/VPP site. Neither employees, nor any representatives of employees in approved Cal/VPP site assume the employer's statutory or common law responsibilities for providing safe and healthful workplaces. Cal/VPP is voluntary and employers are not required to participate in the program. Compliance with Cal/OSHA standards and applicable laws will remain mandatory for all employers.

The Cal/VPP consists of two major programs, Cal/Star and Reach. Cal/Reach program is aimed at worksites who have not yet met the qualifications for Cal/Star program but wish to work toward Cal/Star participation. The Cal/VPP team determines that the employer has demonstrated the commitment and potential to achieve Cal/Star status and receive the Cal/Reach recognition. Participation in Cal/Reach is an opportunity for the employer to work with Cal/OSHA to improve the quality of their health and safety programs, reduce their injury and illness rates to meet the requirement for Cal/Star status.

Final approval for Cal/VPP participation is determined by the Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

2. Recognition

By approving a work site for participation in the program, Cal/OSHA recognizes that the employer is providing, at a minimum, the basic elements of an ongoing and systematic protection of workers at the site rendering routine Cal/OSHA enforcement inspection efforts unnecessary. A three year exemption from routine compliance programmed inspections is therefore granted to these approved sites. The symbols of this recognition are certificates of approval and flags. Approved Cal/VPP sites may also choose to use program logos on such items as letterheads, award items for employee contests or other approved safety and health related promotions.

3. Benefits

The benefits of Cal/VPP program are:

  • Improvement in employee morale and motivation to work safely
  • Improve labor/management relation
  • Reduction in overall injuries and illnesses
  • Higher product quality and work productivity
  • Lower workers' compensation and other insurance costs
  • Comprehensive evaluation by a team of health and safety consultants
  • Networking with government and industry
  • Community recognition and esteemed public image
  • Exempt from routine compliance programmed inspection
October 2015