On November 8th, 2006 The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC), met with Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program (OSHA VPP) personnel and fellow OSHA Challenge Program administrators, at the Department of Labor. Over the course of an entire day, the group discussed ways to better this OSHA program that provides a road map for employers to implement safety and health management systems. With many employers interested in implementing the VPP on their jobsites, but needing assistance in doing so, the OSHA Challenge Program was created. This program caters to those employers who strive to make safer and healthier working conditions.
The Challenge Program provides opportunities for employers not currently served by existing OSHA cooperative programs to work with the Agency and receive recognition for their efforts. Challenge participants link into either a general industry or a construction track. Within each track, participants follow a detailed three-stage roadmap that guides them to improve their safety and health management systems and work toward VPP status.
The Program has many employers at different stages in the process of working towards implementing a successful safety and health management system. Currently the Program consists of 71 employers, (40 in construction including TAUC members), 11 administrators, and 50 coordinators. With over 13,000 construction workers covered by the program, injury and illness rates have gone down considerably this year, 44% below the 2005 rates.
Being a charter member of the Challenge Program since its inception in March of 2004, TAUC takes great responsibility in assisting our members who are interested in implementing the VPP on their own jobsites. After all, initiating safety and health management systems is paramount to running successful and economical jobsites. The value of these systems not only resides in having a healthy workforce to get the job done, but it is yet another selling point for union construction.