Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742

Nicholas Florko, Communications Officer, Global Trade Watch
w. (202) 454-5108

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog

Follow us on Twitter


June 28, 2012 

Voluntary Enforcement of Workplace Safety Isn’t Enough

America’s Workers Deserve Safe Workplaces, Full Government Oversight

Note:The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. today titled, “Promoting Safe Workplaces Through Voluntary Protection Programs,” in Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2175.

WASHINGTON, D.C.Lawmakers in today’s U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee hearing are misguided if they think that voluntary enforcement of workplace safety is enough to keep employees safe from harm, Public Citizen said.

The Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) – which allow employers to be exempt from inspections from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – are unproven. The committee has said that “by encouraging employers to go beyond federal safety requirements and proactively promote the health and safety of their workers, VPP participants report fewer days away or restricted from work due to an injury or illness.” But letting industries regulate themselves is rarely a good idea.

“While Public Citizen applauds the willingness of some employers to step up and go above and beyond the language of the required federal statue to protect their employees, scheduled OSHA inspections remain necessary,” said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “By removing scheduled OSHA inspections from the workplace, employers are left with fewer choices if unsafe situations occur.”

After an employer applies to OSHA to qualify to be in a VPP, OSHA performs a rigorous inspection and then decides. A VPP designation is good for three to five years.

“With the ever-changing workplace, workers in the U.S. should not have to wait as long as five years to have potential hazards mitigated,” said Lisa Gilbert, acting director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The use of enforcement mechanisms and inspections is absolutely necessary to deter employers who may neglect workplace safety and health.”

“It’s great when employers go above and beyond, but we shouldn’t remove worker protections from employees who unfortunately are not in that situation,” Wrightson said. “The House Education and Workforce Committee should consider the need for federal oversight before moving to promote safe workplaces through voluntary programs alone.”


Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.

Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.