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OSHA’s Updated Severe Violator Enforcement Program

OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) inspects employers who expose workers to serious dangers and commit willful, repeated violations even after being cited for the offenses.

According to a post on the OSHA web site written by Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, there have been important updates to the SVEP program:

  • The expanded program criteria now includes all hazards and OSHA standards. The old criteria was limited to cases involving fatalities, three or more hospitalizations, high-emphasis hazards, the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical (process safety management), and enforcement actions classified as egregious.
  • Employers will be placed in the program if OSHA finds at least two willful or repeated violations or issues failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high gravity serious violations. Under the old criteria, the focus was on cases where a willful or repeated serious violation, or there was a hazard the employer failed to abate, that was directly related to either an employee death or an incident that caused three or more hospitalizations.
  • Follow-up or referral inspections must be conducted within one year, but not longer than two years, after the final order. Previously, there was no required time frame in which OSHA would conduct a follow-up inspection after the final order.
  • The potential for removal from the program begins three years after the date of verification that all SVEP-related hazards have been abated, instead of when final order is issued. A final order and meeting other conditions are still required for removal from SVEP, but the clock for potential removal starts when the employer fixes the hazard instead of at the end of a highly variable administrative process.
  • Employers can reduce the amount of time in SVEP to two years if they consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that involves implementing a safety and health management system. The system must include the seven basic elements outlined in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. Previously, employers were only eligible for removal from SVEP after three years. These last two changes incentivize employers to fix problems quickly and develop lasting solutions to change their health and safety culture.

Read the post in its entirety here.