Key findings

  • Since 2000, at least 80 workers have died at “model workplaces” that OSHA considers the nation’s safest, and which it exempts from some inspections. In 47 of these cases, inspectors found serious safety violations and,sometimes,tragedies that could have been averted. (Read more here)
  • Even within industries so hazardous the government targets them for intensive enforcement, “model workplaces” are exempt from these special inspections. Despite inherent risks and a record of failing to curb hazards, nearly one in three refineries is off limits to those inspections. (Read more here)
  • At least seven workers have died at refineries that are off limits to inspectors in the special inspection program targeting the refining industry. Similar perils have led to special scrutiny at workplaces in other dangerous industries — but not for “model workplaces” in OSHA’s “Voluntary Protection Programs.”
  • Many oil refineries in the Voluntary Protection Programs experience the same safety problems plaguing other refineries. iWatch News identified 55 fires during 2009 and 2010 at refineries under federal jurisdiction.Of these, about 40 percent occurred at VPP refineries.
  • Even when workers die and inspectors find safety violations, “model workplaces” often face minimal consequences and keep the special designation. At least 65 percent of workplaces where a fatal accident occurred remain in the Voluntary Protection Programs today.