June 17, 2006 | Mark Paradies

Texas City Encourages Safe Workplaces




A notice from the Voluntary Protection Program …

FALLS CHURCH, VA, June 16, 2006 – The city of Texas City, Texas, located approximately 40 miles southeast of Houston, last week enacted an innovative provision within its tax code that offers tax incentives for industrial facilities that demonstrate a commitment to safe operations by becoming certified in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). VPP certification is OSHA’s highest honor to recognize the nation’s most effective industrial safety and health programs.

“We applaud Texas City’s leaders for this proactive and unprecedented effort that promotes not only a safer industrial district, but a safer community,” said R. Davis Lane, Executive Director of the VPP Participants Association. “VPP can significantly improve a facility’s safety performance. And now, Texas City companies will have added financial incentives to participate in the program and earn VPP certification. This is an outstanding precedent that we hope local governments throughout the country will follow.”

Texas City officials outlined and approved the plan at their June 7 City Commission Meeting. The language in the provision states that if an industrial entity has achieved OSHA VPP certification, the facility’s owner is entitled to a 20 percent tax abatement each year for five years (from the second year after it receives certification through the seventh year), provided the owner maintains VPP designation.

“The Voluntary Protection Program is a great way for the City to have a measurable standard for our abatement program,” said Texas City Mayor Matthew T. Doyle. “VPP also provides that management and labor work together to achieve a common goal. The money that we allow in the tax abatements will be a small price to pay for a safer community. The Valero Texas City Refinery is the only plant to carry the VPP certification in Texas City at this time.

VPP Background

OSHA started the VPP in 1982 to establish cooperative action among government, industry and labor in promoting highly effective safety and health programs that go above and beyond normal OSHA worker protection compliance.

Becoming VPP-certified is a rigorous and complex process designed to ensure that only the best programs qualify. The process begins with a considerable amount of internal review of and modifications to existing safety and health programs.

An extensive written application is then sent to OSHA. After the application has been reviewed, a team of OSHA representatives visits the plant for an on-site review that typically lasts about four days. The on-site evaluation includes an extensive review of all safety and health records, a walkthrough of the facility, and a series of formal and informal interviews with plant management and employees.

According to OSHA, companies that are VPP certified as either Merit Sites or Star Sites (the highest VPP honor) have discovered numerous benefits that positively affect their workers. For example, VPP participants generally experience from 60 to 80 percent fewer lost workday injuries, and an injury and illness rate that is 52 percent lower than would be expected of an average site of the same size in the same industry.

According to OSHA reports, employee motivation to work safely is also improved and there is a greater feeling of ownership in the safety program, which leads to greater employee morale and better productivity.

For more information about VPP see: http://www.vpppa.org

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