In place since 2010, OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) has focused on inspections of employers who have a history of willful or repeated federal health and safety law violations or have demonstrated a failure-to-abate previous violations. Now OSHA has announced significant updates that will expand the criteria. The agency says that the criteria expansion will strengthen enforcement and improve compliance with workplace safety standards which will reduce worker injuries and illnesses.
The previous criteria for an SVEP case were limited to incidents involving fatalities, three or more hospitalizations, high-emphasis hazards, enforcement actions considered egregious, and the potential release of highly hazardous chemicals. These “high-emphasis hazards” largely reflected the subjects of OSHA’s National Emphasis Programs, including:
- Fall hazards
- Amputation hazards covered by Lockout/Tagout and Machine Guarding standards
- Excavation/Trenching hazards
- Crystalline silica hazards
- Combustible dust hazards
- Lead hazards
- Grain handling hazards
The new criteria have removed the high-emphasis hazard as a qualifying criterion. Instead, it is to include violations of all hazards and standards. The agency will continue to focus on repeat offenders across all industries for any hazard or standard violation.
Other updated criteria from the agency include:
- Employers with citations for at least two willful or repeated violations or who receive failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations will now be placed in the program.
- SVEP employers will undergo follow-up or referral inspections made one year, but not longer than two years, after the final order.
- Potential removal from the SVEP may occur three years after the date OSHA verifies that the employer has abated all program-related hazards. In the past, removal could occur three years after the final order date.
- Employers may reduce time spent in the program to two years, if they consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes use of a safety and health management system with seven basic elements in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.
In a blog post on the agency’s website, OSHA administrator Doug Parker wrote, ““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.”
The updated program replaces the 2010 program and will remain in effect until cancelled or superseded.