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OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program

In 2010, OSHA established its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) to concentrate the agency’s resources on inspecting employers that have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. It replaced the Enhanced Enforcement Program.

The violations must include one or more of the following circumstances:

  • a fatality or three or more hospitalizations that led to one or more willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violation
  • industry operations or processes that expose employees to the most severe occupational hazards and those defined as “High-Emphasis Hazards” that led to two or more willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations
  • exposure to hazards related to the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical that led to three or more willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations, or
  • egregious (per-instance) enforcement actions were found.

Ramifications for employers include mandatory follow-up inspections and inspections of other work sites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies might be present.

OSHA enacted the SVEP in conjunction with several administrative changes to the penalty calculation system.

On August 16, 2012, OSHA issued employer removal criteria from the SVEP program to all federal OSHA offices. Generally, an employer may be considered for removal from the program by an OSHA Regional Administrator after:

  • A period of three years from the date of the final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items including: failure to contest, settlement agreement, Review Commission final order, or court of appeals decision.
  •  All affirmed violations have been abated, all final penalties have been paid, the employer has abided by and completed all settlement provisions, and has not received any additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.

In the event an employer fails to adhere to the terms and provisions of the agreement, the employer will remain in the program for an additional three years and will then be reevaluated.

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