A new portal to help companies who qualify for federal voluntary protection programs is up and running. 

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the portal last month, which is aimed at modernizing the voluntary protection programs processes.

External stakeholders and OSHA staff helped develop the portal. 

OSHA adopted the voluntary protection program in 1982 in an effort to recognize and partner with business and work sites that show excellence in occupational safety. 

To participate in the program, employers commit to effective employee protection beyond the required OSHA standards. 

The updated portal allows OSHA to review applications in real time.

It also allows applicants to upload electronic versions of documents, save their progress along the way, and correct errors quickly. 

'Culture of Safety'

Applicants can choose to submit materials by mail after completing an online profile. 

OSHA hopes the update will generate new interest in the program. 

“Companies in the voluntary protection programs go above and beyond basic OSHA requirements and strive to create a culture of safety,” said deputy assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. 

“This important program comprises sites that serve as models of excellence and influence safety and health practices in all industries.” 

Any group covered by OSHA is eligible to join the voluntary protection programs. 

Worksites that apply must prove they are committed to effective safety health management systems, and aim to be an industry leader in health and safety.