Last week the US Department of Labor announced an update to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Since 2010, the Severe Violator Enforcement Program has focused resources on enforcement and inspection of employers who either willfully or repeatedly violate federal health and safety laws. Or further, employers that demonstrate a refusal to correct previous violations. In addition to being included on a public list of the nation’s severe violators, employers are subject to follow-up inspections.
“The Severe Violator Enforcement Program empowers OSHA to sharpen its focus on employers who – even after receiving citations for exposing workers to hazardous conditions and serious dangers – fail to mitigate these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
The changes will broaden the program’s scope with the reality that additional industries will fall within its parameters. Previously, an employer could be in the program for failing to meet a limited number of standards. The new criteria include violations of all hazards and OSHA standards. It will continue to focus on repeat offenders in all industries.
The updated Severe Violator Enforcement Program criteria include the following:
- The expanded program criteria now include all hazards and OSHA standards.
- Program placement for employers with citations for at least two willful or repeated violations.
- Employers that receive failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations.
- Follow-up or referral inspections are made one year – but not longer than two years – after the final order.
- Potential removal from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program three years after the date of receiving verification that the employer has abated all program-related hazards.
- Employers’ ability to reduce time spent in the program to two years by consenting to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes the use of a safety and health management system that includes seven basic elements.
If an employer agrees to an Enhanced Settlement Agreement they may elect to reduce the SVEP term to two years. In such cases, SVEP removal is contingent on the employer agreeing to develop and implement a safety and health management system. This must be completed within two years. It must include effective policies, procedures, and practices. These should recognize occupational safety and health hazards. As well as protect employees from those hazards. The employer’s SHMS must include at least the seven basic elements outlined. Lastly, the implementation must be verified by an independent third party subject to the approval of OSHA.
Seven Basic Elements in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs:
- Management Leadership
- Worker Participation
- Hazard Identification & Assessment
- Hazard Prevention & Control
- Education & Training
- Program Evaluation & Improvement
- Communication & Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies
Parker further stated, “It is the goal of this administration to maximize all tools available to us to ensure employers comply with their legal obligation to provide safe and healthful workplaces. These changes to 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.” National Safety Compliance offers many training products to help businesses stay OSHA compliant and avoid ever being included in the severe violator program.