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Risk Insight: Severe Violator Enforcement Program Expanded

All, Property & Casualty

In June of 2010, OSHA enacted the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The purpose of the SVEP is for OSHA to focus enforcement on employers who willfully or repeatedly fail to uphold a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. Originally, this program was limited to high hazard industries such as construction, chemical production/distribution, foundries, and oil and gas production.

In September 2022, OSHA issued a new directive to expand applicability of the SVEP. The SVEP now applies to all industries and all OSHA standards, putting more businesses at risk of being placed in the program.

Severe Violator

For a business to be considered a severe violator, the following must apply:

  • The business has received at least two willful or repeated violations.
  • The business has received failure to abate violations categorized as high-gravity serious violations.

If a business with multiple locations is categorized as a severe violator, OSHA will conduct a company-wide inspection. All businesses placed in OSHA’s SVEP are subject to follow up inspections, potential increase in monetary fines, and placement on OSHA’s public severe violator list. Additional consequences could include diminished reputation, hiring issues, and customer loss.

Once placed on OSHA’s severe violator list, employers will remain on the public list for at least three years. The employer must prove to OSHA that all cited issues have been corrected prior to the commencement of the three-year waiting period. Employers will have the option to reduce time served on the severe violator list to two years if they complete the following:

  • Consent to an enhanced settlement agreement,
  • Implement a safety and health management system, and
  • Completed payment of all penalties.

Impact

The updates to the SVEP provide for greater enforcement, affect a wider scope of businesses, and increase the difficulty for removal from OSHA’s Severe Violator List.

OSHA will require a follow up inspection after a business is placed in the program. Follow up inspections must be conducted within one year, or no longer than two years of the issued citation.

Once placed on the severe violator list, it is now more difficult for the business to be removed. Violators will be placed on the severe violator list for at least three years once all violations are corrected.

Considerations

Employers should be aware of these changes and ensure efforts to remain out of OSHA’s SVEP. It is vital that employers implement and maintain a safety and health management system. OSHA describes a good safety and health management system to have seven elements listed in in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.

Companies that already have a safety and health management system should emphasize continuous development and improvement. Employers will be well served to promote a message of individual employee responsibility for safety to avoid OSHA violations and possible severe violator status.

Key Takeaways:

  • OSHA’s update to the SEVP now applies to all OSHA standards and spans across all industries.
  • For a business to be considered a “severe violator” the following must apply:
    • The business has received at least two willful or repeated violations.
    • The business has received failure to abate violations categorized as high-gravity serious violations.
  • Companies placed in the severe violator enforcement program will be listed on OSHA’s public log for at least three years, unless an enhanced settlement agreement is reached and a safety and health management system is implemented.

Please contact a member of M3’s risk management team for help or with questions about OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

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