VPPPA's Maddox: OSHA Hurting Association's Growth

Mike Maddox, who has served as VPPPA's board chairman for the past eight years and is seeking re-election, made it clear Aug. 25 that he sees the political leadership of OSHA -- meaning Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and Jordan Barab, a deputy assistant secretary -- as counterproductive to VPPPA's progress.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Mike Maddox, who has served as VPPPA's board chairman for the past eight years and is seeking re-election, made it clear Aug. 25 that he sees the political leadership of OSHA -- meaning Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and Jordan Barab, a deputy assistant secretary -- as counterproductive to VPPPA's progress. "It [VPP} is an outstanding program" that reduces injuries, increases productivity, improves equipment performance, and improves the company's bottom line, he said during an interview on the first day of the 30th Annual National VPPPA Conference taking place at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel & Convention Center here.

Maddox, who works for NuStar Energy, LP of San Antonio, said former OSHA chiefs Charles Jeffress, John Henshaw, and Ed Foulke recognized VPP's value and strongly encouraged VPPPA's growth because they realized VPP saves OSHA's resources. Companies that work hard to qualify for VPP are motivated to improve their performance, and once admitted, they self-report and are regularly audited. "Charles got it, Ed got it, John got it, and it stopped there," Maddox said.

He said Michaels shifted some of the funding Congress approved for OSHA's VPP activities to whistleblower programs, and the resulting shortage stalled VPP applications. "I think it's all designed to destroy the program," Maddox said.

By OSHA's own figures, its VPP oversight costs the agency $3.1 million. However, VPPPA member companies contributed $4.2 million last year in paying for their employees who had qualified as Special Government Employees (SGEs) to travel to perform VPP audits, he estimated.

"The only thing that's holding the association back from skyrocketing right now is OSHA," said Maddox. "The bottom line is this program is popular. It's proven. We've had many of our small companies tell us that they'd be out of business without VPP."

If OSHA would just start accepting and processing more VPP applications, that would be beneficial, he said.

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