In 1982, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the implementation of the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). In 1984, OSHA hosted a meeting for VPP site participants to gather, network and share the benefits of participation in the programs. The following year, OSHA was unable to host a similar meeting so participating VPP sites; Georgia Power and Mobil Chemical, took it upon themselves to sponsor the meeting. During that gathering in September 1985, the attending participating companies voted to form an association that would provide support for companies participating in VPP or aiming to participate. Ronald R. Amerson from Georgia Power was elected as the founding chair of the association.

From 1985 to 1990 the main function of the association, run completely by volunteers, was to present an annual conference, with OSHA's assistance, on the VPP and invite interested companies to attend. In 1990, the association expanded its role and established paid membership categories. A full staff was hired in 1991, and the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) received a certificate of incorporation from the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporate Commission. 

In the early 1990's, volunteer-based VPPPA chapters began to establish an association presence in each of the 10 OSHA regions. VPPPA chapters continue to host local networking opportunities for VPP sites and maintain a working relationship with local agency officials such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), federal OSHA and OSHA state-plan offices.

Growth of VPPPA

The association has seen significant growth since its formation. In 1985, at the first official VPPPA conference held in Washington DC, a recorded 30 attendees participated at the event. Today, over 2,500 attendees gather at the national conference to network, share best practices and attend over 110 educational sessions that help sites continually improve their safety and heath management systems.

Membership categories and numbers have also seen significant increases over the years. Originally formed to provide networking opportunities for approved VPP sites and sites who had submitted VPP applications, the association currently has membership categories for VPP sites (Full), sites pursuing VPP (Associate), company headquarter offices (Corporate), products and services providers (Affiliates), non-profits, unions, agencies and international sites. The VPPPA International Associate category was established by a membership vote in 2005 to include sites outside of the U.S. who are implementing elements of VPP at their sites.

From its humble beginnings of just a handful of participating sites, the VPPPA has grown to over 2,200 member sites.