The Department of Energy Voluntary Protection Program (DOE-VPP) promotes safety and health excellence through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at the Department of Energy (DOE) contractor sites. DOE has also formed partnerships with other Federal agencies and the private sector for both advancing and sharing its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) experiences and preparing for program challenges in the next century. The safety and health of contractor and federal employees are a high priority for the Department.
The Department initiated its VPP in January 1994 to promote improved safety and health performance through public recognition of outstanding programs. DOE-VPP also includes coverage of radiation protection/nuclear safety and emergency management because of the type and complexity of DOE facilities. Similar to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) VPP program, DOE-VPP provides several proven benefits to participating sites, including improved labor/management relations, reduced workplace injuries and illnesses, increased employee involvement, improved morale, reduced absenteeism, and public recognition.
Categories of Achievement
The DOE-VPP has three (3) levels of recognition; STAR, MERIT, and DEMONSTRATION. Contractors whose programs meet the requirements for outstanding safety and health programs receive STAR recognition, the highest achievement level. Contractors with highly effective programs, who commit themselves to attain STAR status within a five-year period, receive MERIT recognition. A site can retain MERIT recognition for a maximum of five years. The DEMONSTRATION program is expected to be used rarely. This program allows DOE to recognize existing achievements in unusual situations about which more information is needed before approval requirements for the STAR program can be determined. Once approved, STAR sites are reevaluated every three years, while MERIT and DEMONSTRATION sites are evaluated annually.
Partnering with the Private Sector
The VPP Outreach Program partners DOE contractors working toward DOE-VPP recognition with private-sector firms that have achieved OSHA STAR status, so that they may learn firsthand what it takes to become a STAR site. This program is operated jointly by the Department and the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association (VPPPA).
The VPPPA, a nonprofit organization, is a leader in safety, health, and environmental excellence through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government. As part of its efforts to share the benefits of cooperative programs, the VPPPA works closely with the OSHA, OSHA state plan states, DOE, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the development and implementation of cooperative programs within the agencies. VPPPA also provides expertise to these groups in the form of comments and stakeholder feedback on agency rulemakings and policies. The Association also provides comments and testimony to members of Congress regarding legislative bills on health and safety issues. The VPPPA, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a leader in safety, health, and environmental excellence through cooperative efforts among employees, management, and government. VPPPA members include more than 450 companies and work sites that are involved in OSHA's VPP or the DOE's VPP, and government agencies that are developing or implementing cooperative recognition programs.