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OSHA expands its Severe Violator Enforcement Program

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Washington — In an effort to enhance enforcement of and compliance with workplace safety standards, OSHA has expanded the criteria for placement in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program to include violations of all hazards and agency standards, OSHA announced Sept. 15.

In place since 2010, the program focuses agency enforcement and inspection resources on employers who demonstrate indifference to their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 by committing willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations. Along with being placed on a public list of the nation’s severe violators, employers are subject to follow-up inspections.

Under the previous program, criteria for an SVEP case was limited to incidents involving fatalities, three or more hospitalizations, high-emphasis hazards, enforcement actions considered egregious, and the potential release of highly hazardous chemicals (process safety management). By broadening the scope of its program, OSHA anticipates that “additional industries will fall within [SVEP’s] parameters.”

Other key updates to the SVEP include:

  • Employers are now placed in the program if they have at least two willful or repeated violations, or if they receive failure-to-abate notices “based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations.”
  • SVEP employers will undergo follow-up or referral inspections at least one year – but not longer than two years – after a final order.
  • Removal from the SVEP may occur three years after OSHA verifies an employer has abated all program-related hazards, instead of three years after a final order date.
  • Employers can reduce that removal time to two years “if they consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes use of a safety and health management system” with OSHA’s seven basic elements.

“These changes to the SVEP will hold a microscope to those employers who continue to expose workers to very serious dangers and help ensure America’s workers come home safe at the end of every shift,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker wrote in a blog post on the agency’s website.

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