OSHA is expanding the criteria for employers to be placed into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), the agency announced in a blog post on September 15.
OSHA will no longer limit the SVEP to cases where violations led directly to an employee death, the hospitalization of multiple employees, or other egregious violations.
The expanded program considers all violations of OSHA workplace health and safety Standards. OSHA may place an employer in the SVEP following two or more willful violations, repeat violations, or failure-to-abate notices “based on a presence of high gravity serious violations.”
In the past, employers could be placed in the SVEP after multiple violations that led to a fatality or three or more hospitalizations. Additional criteria for placement in the SVEP include violations related to high-emphasis hazards or a potential release of a highly hazardous chemical (see 29 CFR 1910.119, Appendix A).
OSHA is also implementing a timeframe for follow-up inspections at workplaces removed from the SVEP. These inspections will be conducted within one to two years after the employer is removed from the program by final order.
Removal From Severe Violator Program
OSHA's policies for when and how an employer can be removed from the Severe Violator program are changing as well.
Employers can be removed from the program three years after OSHA verifies that all SVEP-related hazards have been abated (i.e., fixed). In the past, employers had to wait three years after OSHA issued a final order, an administrative process that took an uncertain amount of time.
The three year “clock” may be shortened to two years if the employer enters an enhanced settlement agreement and implements an adequate system to prevent future violations.
OSHA Civil Penalties and Top 10 Most Cited Standards
Civil penalties for violations of OSHA health and safety Standards for employers increase annually to keep pace with inflation. In January 2022, OSHA increased the maximum civil penalty for a willful or repeat violation to $145,027. For other violations, the maximum civil penalty is $14,502 (29 CFR 1903.15(d)).
OSHA releases a list of the ten most common violations every year. The list typically includes general industry health and safety standards such as:
- Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134),
- Hazard communication (29 CFR 1910.1200),
- Lockout/tagout (29 CFR 1910.147),
- Machine guarding (29 CFR 1910.212), and
- Powered industrial trucks or forklifts (29 CFR 1910.178).
See the 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2021 here.
OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program replaced the Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) in 2010.