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OSHA works to improve internal tracking of fatal worker accidents

Construction and industrial enterprises are not deemed equal, at least in the estimation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which tags some of them "model workplaces" that qualify for exemptions and comparatively special treatment pursuant to the agency's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

The program is open to employers that have demonstrated to OSHA rigorous safety standards and an exceptional commitment to an injury-free workplace. Would-be participants with spotty safety records are ineligible for acceptance, whereas companies that have proactively taken strong steps to avoid construction accidents, falls, scaffolding injuries, chemical burns and other harms frequently are accepted into the program.

The benefits are tangible and often deemed appreciable by VPP companies. Most importantly, a VPP participant is exempt from OSHA programmed inspections as long as it maintains VPP status.

OSHA uses a special database to monitor the program, which includes information on deaths and injuries that occasionally occur even in VPP-designated enterprises.

That database and the process for inputting relevant information into it is presently under strong focus, with relevant information relating to at least 15 deaths since 2000 at VPP worksites having somehow escaped inclusion in it.

One of those deaths occurred during an explosion at an Ohio chemical plant. OSHA investigators are at a loss as to why that death and the others are not entered in the VPP database.

The agency admits that, historically. Inclusion of fatalities "didn't always occur as it should have," but that OSHA has firmly identified the problem and is taking steps to rectify it.

"We are continuing to strengthen the procedures for the reporting and tracking of fatalities at VPP sites," the agency recently noted in a formal statement.

Source: i watch news, "OSHA acknowledges database of fatal accidents incomplete" Nov. 4, 2011

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