|A. Purpose. The
purpose of the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Voluntary
Protection Program (VPP) is to emphasize the importance of,
encourage the improvement of, and recognize excellence in
employer-provided, employee-participation, and generally
site-specific occupational safety and health programs. These
programs are comprised of management systems for preventing or
controlling occupational hazards. The systems not only ensure that
MOSH standards are met, but, using flexibility and creativity in
striving for excellence, go beyond the standards to provide the
best feasible protection for workers at that site. In the process,
these worksites serve as models for effective safety and health
programs in their industries.
B. Scope. Worksites in the
MOSH VPP are removed from programmed inspection lists for the
duration of their participation. This frees MOSH's inspection
resources for visits to establishments that are less likely to
meet the requirements of the MOSH standards. VPP participants
enter into a new relationship with MOSH, one in which safety and
health problems can be approached cooperatively when and if they
C. Authority. The MOSH
Program shall control the application, evaluation, review, and
approval process, and maintain the necessary documentation to
implement a VPP within the guidelines set forth by federal OSHA
(see Cooperative Agreement with Federal OSHA/State Plan Document).
Workplaces that are approved for participation in the VPP shall
meet the guidelines for VPP approval established herein. Although
these guidelines have been patterned against federal OSHA VPP
systems, the MOSH Program has sole authority for application
review, evaluation and approval, and maintenance of the sites in
D. Roles and
1. Commissioner. The Commissioner of Labor and
Industry/Authorized Representative shall:
a. Set occupational safety and health performance
criteria for participants in the VPP.
b. Seek resources to develop and maintain a statewide
VPP outreach program for companies doing business in Maryland.
c. Ensure that appropriately trained staff are
available for application review and processing.
d. Issue a news release to announce every VPP approval in
e. Provide to the applicant the approval decision for
evaluated participant worksites recommended to continue in VPP.
f. Ensure that the required information is provided
to OSHA in a timely manner, and maintain a current list of
2. VPP Coordinator. The VPP Coordinator shall:
a. Provide application information and assistance to
interested employers, employee groups, and other parties
(e.g., trade associations, municipal and county governments,
b. Provide application review to determine merit of
on-site verification and recommendation for the
Commissioner/Authorized Representative’s decision on VPP
c. Maintain a record of all VPP inquiries and
applications received and report the number of inquiries and
applications received to the Commissioner/Authorized
Representative on a regular basis.
d. Ensure that any applicant who appears on a
programmed inspection list has inspections deferred for a
period lasting from no more than 75 days prior to the date the
on-site review is scheduled until the date of the approval
decision. If approved, participants are removed from such
lists for the duration of participation.
e. Provide the Commissioner/Authorized Representative
with a copy of the VPP Activity Log, which will include a
listing of all scheduled pre-approval and evaluation on-site
f. Ensure that valid, formal employee complaints and
referrals, significant chemical leaks and spills, accidents,
fatalities or catastrophes are forwarded to the appropriate
region for investigation as defined in Chapter III.
E. VPP Application
1. Review of Applications. Applications will be
reviewed upon receipt to determine whether the application
indicates prima facie attainment of the requirements for the
program. If the written description meets those requirements,
then a pre-approval on-site review will be scheduled.
2. Decision to Conduct Pre-approval On-site Review.
a. The VPP Coordinator shall review all materials
submitted with the on-site team to determine whether a
pre-approval on-site review shall be conducted. If the team
feels that additional information is needed from the applicant
before a decision can be made, the team will draft a list of
questions to be addressed by the applicant. The VPP
Coordinator will forward the team’s final recommendation to
the Assistant Commissioner/Authorized Representative.
b. Should it become clear that the applicant cannot
qualify for the VPP program, the VPP Coordinator shall suggest
to the applicant that the request for consideration be
withdrawn. If the application is not withdrawn, the
application shall be returned with a letter of explanation
outlining the reason(s) for denial.
3. Contents of Application.
a. Injury and Illness Data. The employer shall
collect and submit to MOSH the injury frequency and lost
workday information for the selected worksite. The information
and data shall be submitted prior to the initiation of the
benchmark visit and on an annual basis thereafter 60 days
prior to expiration of the agreement. The employer and
worksite must meet or exceed the following criteria:
(1) No history of MOSH violations involving
willful, repeat or failure to correct within the last five
(2) An OSHA recordable incident rate per 100
full-time employees for the current year at the site 30%
below the latest published national rate for the applicable
SIC code, and the prior two years at or below the latest
published national rate.
(3) The combined overall average injury and illness
and lost workday case rates (called the contractor rates)
for the most recent calendar year for all applicable
contractors= employees assigned to the site must also be at
or below the most recent specific industry national averages
published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
b. Management Leadership and Employee Involvement.
Each applicant must be able to demonstrate top-level
management leadership in the site's safety and health program.
Management systems for comprehensive planning must address
protection of worker safety and health. Employees must be
meaningfully involved in the safety and health program.
(1) Commitment to Safety and Health Protection. As
with any other management system, authority and
responsibility for employee safety and health must be
integrated into the overall management system of the
organization and must involve employees. This commitment
(a) Policy. Clearly established policies for
worker safety and health protection shall be communicated
to all employees.
(b) Goals and Objectives. Management shall
establish and communicate the goal for the safety and
health program and results-oriented objectives for meeting
that goal, so that all members of the organization
understand the results desired and the measures planned
for achieving them.
(c) Commitment to VPP Participation. Management
must also clearly demonstrate commitment to meeting and
maintaining the requirements of the VPP for which
application is made.
(d) Planning. Planning for safety and health must be a
part of the overall management planning process.
(e) Written Safety and Health Program. The
employer must maintain an effective and pro-active safety
and health program. The program shall set out the
principles and goals demonstrating the employer's
commitment to workplace safety and health and shall
include at least the following major elements:
1 Management Leadership. Managers must
provide visible leadership in implementing the program. This
a Establishing clear lines of communication with
b Setting an example of safe and healthful
c Creating an environment that allows for good
employee access to top site management;
d Ensuring that all workers at the site, including
contract workers, are provided equally high quality safety
and health protection.
2 Employee Involvement. The site must provide for and
encourage employee involvement in the structure and
operation of the program and in decisions that affect
employees' safety and health. The requirement for employee
participation may be met in a variety of ways, as long as
employees have a workplace safety committee and at least two
other active and meaningful ways to participate in safety
and health problem identification and resolution. This
involvement is in addition to the individual right to notify
appropriate managers of hazardous conditions and practices.
Examples of acceptable means of providing for employee
impact on decision-making include but are not limited to the
a Safety observers,
b Ad hoc safety and health problem-solving groups,
c Safety and health training of other employees,
d Analysis of job/process hazards,
e Committees/teams that plan and conduct safety and
health awareness programs.
3 Worksite Analysis. Management of safety and health
programs must begin with a thorough understanding of all
potentially hazardous situations to which employees may be
exposed and the ability to recognize and correct all
existing hazards as they arise. This requires:
a Comprehensive safety and health surveys at
intervals appropriate for the nature of workplace
operations which include:
o A baseline survey of health hazards accomplished
through initial comprehensive industrial hygiene
surveying, or other comprehensive means of assessment
such as complete industrial hygiene engineering studies,
or through pre-job planning;
o A survey of safety hazards accomplished through
initial comprehensive worksite surveying and subsequent
surveying as needed; and
o The use of nationally recognized procedures for all
sampling, testing, and analysis with written records of
b Analysis of all new and newly acquired
facilities, processes, materials, equipment, or phases
before use begins, to determine potential hazards and to
plan for their prevention or control.
c Routine examination and analysis of hazards
associated with individual jobs, processes, or phases and
inclusion of the results in training and hazard control
programs. This includes job safety analysis and process
d A system for conducting routine self-inspections
that follows written procedures or guidance and that
results in written reports of findings and tracking of
hazard elimination or control to completion. These
inspections must occur at least monthly and must cover the
whole worksite at least quarterly.
e A reliable system for employees, without fear of
reprisal, to notify appropriate management personnel in
writing about conditions that appear hazardous and to
receive timely and appropriate responses. The system must
include tracking of responses and tracking of hazard
elimination or control to completion.
f An accident/incident investigation system that
includes written procedures or guidance, with written
reports of findings and hazard elimination or control
tracking to completion.
g A system to analyze trends through a review of
injury/illness experience and hazards identified through
inspections, employee reports, and accident
investigations, so that patterns with common causes can be
identified and the causes eliminated or controlled.
4 Hazard Prevention and Control. Based on the results
of hazard assessment, identified hazards and potential
hazards must be eliminated or controlled by the following
a Reasonable site access to certified industrial
hygienists (CIH) and certified safety professionals (CSP)
as needed, based on the potentially significant risks of
b Means for eliminating or controlling hazards,
o Engineering controls;
o Administrative controls such as job rotation to
reduce the duration of exposure;
o Personal protective equipment; and
o Safety and health rules, including safe and
healthful work procedures for specific operations, that:
- are understood and followed by all affected
- are appropriate to the potential hazards of the
- result in training, positive reinforcement, and
correction of unsafe performance;
- are equitably enforced through a clearly
communicated written disciplinary system that includes
procedures for disciplinary action or reorientation of
managers, supervisors, and employees who break or
disregard safety rules, safe work practices, proper
materials handling, or emergency procedures; and
- are written, implemented, and updated by
management as needed and are used by employees.
c Documented ongoing monitoring and maintenance of
workplace equipment, such as preventive and/or predictive
maintenance, to prevent equipment from becoming hazardous;
d A system for initiating and tracking hazard
elimination or control in a timely manner;
e An occupational health program that uses
occupational health professionals to analyze hazards as
appropriate for early recognition and treatment of illness
and injury and for limiting the severity of harm; and that
provides, at a minimum, certified first aid and
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) providers on-site and
physician and emergency medical care nearby, so that harm
can be minimized and;
f Procedures for response to emergencies. These
procedures must be written and communicated to all
employees, must list requirements for personal protective
equipment, first aid, medical care, and emergency egress,
and must include provisions for emergency telephone
numbers, exit routes, and training drills including annual
5 Safety and Health Training. Training is
necessary to implement management's commitment to prevent
exposure to hazards. All employees must understand the
hazards to which they may be exposed and how to prevent harm
to themselves and others from exposure to these hazards, so
that they will accept and follow established safety and
health procedures. Training for safety and health must
a Managers understand their safety and health
responsibilities, as described under "Management
Leadership and Employee Involvement," and will
effectively carry out those responsibilities;
b Supervisors understand their safety and health
responsibilities and carry them out effectively.
Responsibilities include analyzing the work under their
supervision to identify unrecognized potential hazards,
maintaining physical protections in their work areas, and
reinforcing employee training about potential hazards and
needed protection measures through continual performance
review and, if necessary, through enforcement of safe work
c Employees are made aware of hazards, and the safe
work procedures to follow in order to protect themselves
from hazards, through training provided at the same time
they are taught to do a job and through reinforcement;
d Supervisors, all employees, and visitors on the
site understand what to do in emergency situations; and
e Where personal protective equipment is required,
employees understand that it is required, why it is
required, its limitations, how to use it, and how to
maintain it; and employees use it properly.
6 Safety and Health Program Evaluation. The applicant
must have a system for evaluating the operation of the
safety and health program annually to judge success in
meeting the program's goal and objectives, so that those
responsible can determine and implement changes needed to
improve worker safety and health protection.
a The system must provide for an annual written
narrative report with recommendations for timely
improvements, assignment of responsibility for those
improvements, and documentation of timely follow-up action
or the reason no action was taken.
b The evaluation must assess the effectiveness of
all elements of the site's safety and health program.
c The evaluation may be conducted by competent
corporate site personnel or by competent private sector
third parties who are trained and/or experienced in
performing such evaluations.
o Contract Worker Coverage. The applicant shall
ensure that all contracting and temporary employees are
covered under the safety and health program while
physically on-site of the host employer.
- Participants must demonstrate that they have
considered the safety and health programs and
performance of all contractors during the evaluation
and selection of these contractors.
- Participants must document that all contractors
and subcontractors operating routinely at the site
maintain effective safety and health programs and
comply with applicable safety and health rules and
regulations. Such documentation must:
l Describe the authority for the oversight,
coordination, and enforcement of those programs by
the applicant, and there must be documentary
evidence of the exercise of this authority at the
l Describe the means for prompt elimination or
control of hazards, however detected, by the
applicant in the event that contractors or
individuals fail to correct or control such hazards.
l Describe how the contractor submits the injury
and illness and lost workday data.
l Describe the penalties, including contractor
correction and/or dismissal from the worksite, for
willful or repeated non-compliance by contractors,
subcontractors, or individuals.
o Responsibility, Authority, and Resources.
- Responsibility must be clearly defined in
writing, with no overlap or unassigned areas, and each
employee, at any level, must be able to describe
his/her responsibility for safety and health.
- Those who have responsibility must have
- Those who have responsibility and authority must
have adequate resources, including staff, equipment,
and incentive programs, to meet their
o Line Accountability. Managers, supervisors, and
employees must be held accountable for meeting their
responsibilities so that essential tasks will be
performed. For this to occur, authority and
responsibility for safety and health protection must be
clearly defined and implemented; managers and
supervisors must be evaluated; and a system for
rewarding good and correcting deficient performance must
be in operation.
F. On-site Evaluation.
1. Determination. When it has been determined that an
on-site review is to be conducted, the VPP Coordinator shall
notify the appropriate region that programmed planned
inspections at the applicant’s worksite shall be deferred for
no more than 75 days prior to the date of the scheduled on-site
review, and until the date of the approval decision.
2. Review Team. The review team shall conduct a
pre-visit planning session which will include, at a minimum:
a. Full application and documentation review;
b. Team strategy and member’s roles;
c. Review of VPP policy and requirements;
d. Review of appropriate standards;
e. Research of technical issues specific to the
industry or worksite; and
f. Development of checklists or questionnaires.
3. On-site Visit. The on-site visit, which may be
conducted by the review team or other designees, shall consist
of the following:
a. Opening conference;
b. Document review, including an audit of records;
c. Plant walkthrough;
d. Employee interviews; and
e. Closing conference.
4. Preparation and Submittal of Findings. After a
review of all documentation and pertinent information, the
on-site team shall draft a final report following a format
designated by the Assistant Commissioner/Authorized
a. Consensus. The team must reach consensus on an
approval recommendation. Should irreconcilable questions
arise, the team shall consult with the Commissioner/Authorized
Representative for further guidance.
b. Designation. MOSH VPP only considers employers
making the exemplary designation:
(1) Exemplary – The applicant has met all
requirements and demonstrates an outstanding management and
employee commitment to safety and health. This category
would be reserved for applicants that have been actively
involved in developing and maintaining a safe workplace for
some time, and demonstrate a cooperative and proactive
attitude toward worker safety.
5. Closing Conference. After review by the
Commissioner/Authorized Representative, the team shall present
their finding(s) on-site to the applicant. A copy of the final
report shall be provided, which will include the following:
a. Explanation of approval process and findings.
b. Planned on-site assistance.
c. Responsibilities of applicant for ongoing program
maintenance and evaluation.
d. Information regarding the final agreement and
G. Post-Approval Process.
1. The Assistant Commissioner/Authorized
a. Ensure that appropriate personnel and other guests
are notified of the date, time and location of the ceremony.
b. Provide a certificate for the ceremony (the
company shall provide any flag or banner).
c. Conduct partnership site review visits for the
purpose of monitoring the effectiveness of the VPP. The
employer will be provided 72 hours notice of each proposed
visit. No citations or penalties will be issued for an alleged
violation of a MOSH standard found during a partnership site
review visit, provided the alleged hazard is abated within the
time specified by MOSH.
2. The VPP employer shall:
a. Maintain a joint safety and health committee to
function in the workplace, consisting of representatives of
line employees, supervisors and top management.
b. Maintain a log of all employee complaints received
and the action taken in response to each complaint. Records
shall also be maintained of all meetings of the safety and
health committee, and all worksite inspections conducted as
part of the hazard assessment. These records are in addition
to those records required by law or regulation, and shall be
made available, upon request, to an authorized representative
of the Commissioner.
c. At the employer’s expense, post a visible and
legible sign, in a place where notices to employees are
generally posted, indicating that the establishment is
participating in the MOSH VPP.
d. Inform the joint safety and health committee of
all complaints regarding unsafe conditions. The employer also
agrees to respond immediately to each allegation of a serious
safety or health concern brought to its attention by the
Committee, regardless of the source of the allegation. Upon
finding that an allegation is valid, the VPP employer shall
promptly abate or mitigate the hazard.
H. Affect of VPP on
1. Complaints Filed Against a VPP Participant. A copy
of any complaint filed by employees related to work being
performed at the site of the VPP employer and filed with MOSH
under the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Act will be
treated as a nonformal complaint and forwarded by
"fax" to the VPP employer. In accordance with
applicable law, the name of a complainant requesting
confidentiality will not be revealed. The VPP employer shall
investigate these complaints and provide MOSH with a written
plan of action according to the following timetable:
a. Complaints alleging a serious hazard: 4 hours
b. Complaints alleging an other-than-serious hazard:
3 calendar days
c. Complaints alleging imminent danger: shall be
investigated immediately and a verbal response dispatched
within 1 hour, followed by a written report within 2 hours.
Failure to meet these time requirements will place the
complaint outside the scope of the VPP. MOSH will respond to
such complaints as it would to any complaint of a similar
nature. Although occurring on the VPP Pilot site, complaints
by contractor employees against their employer do not come
under the jurisdiction of these policies. MOSH reserves the
right to investigate these complaints outside the VPP Pilot
agreement in full accordance with the MOSH Act.
2. Accidents. MOSH will continue to fully investigate
accidents involving death or serious physical harm. These
investigations will be conducted outside these policies, in
accordance with normal enforcement practices. Violations may
result in the issuance of citations and penalties. The scope of
such investigations will not be expanded beyond the incident at