On Sept. 15, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it had expanded its Severe Violator Enforcement Program to include all hazards and OSHA standards and focus on repeat offenders in all industries.
Specific changes to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program include:
- The expanded program criteria now include all hazards and OSHA standards. The old criteria were limited to cases involving fatalities, three or more hospitalizations, high-emphasis hazards, the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical (process safety management) and enforcement actions classified as egregious.
- Employers will be placed in the program if OSHA finds at least two willful or repeated violations or issues failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations. Under the old criteria, the focus was on cases where a willful or repeated serious violation, or a hazard the employer failed to abate, that was directly related to either an employee death or an incident that caused three or more hospitalizations.
- Follow-up or referral inspections must be conducted within one year, but not longer than two years, after the final order. Previously, there was no required time frame in which OSHA would conduct a follow-up inspection after the final order.
- The potential for removal from the program begins three years after the date of verification that all SVEP-related hazards have been abated, instead of when final order is issued. A final order and meeting other conditions are still required for removal from SVEP, but the clock for potential removal starts when the employer fixes the hazard instead of at the end of a highly variable administrative process.
- Employers can reduce the amount of time in SVEP to two years if they consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that involves implementing a safety and health management system. The system must include the seven basic elements outlined in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. Previously, employers were only eligible for removal from SVEP after three years. These last two changes incentivize employers to fix problems quickly and develop lasting solutions to change their health and safety culture.
Learn more about the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
ABC members know exceptional jobsite safety and health practices are inherently good for business, the industry, the communities ABC members build and our most important asset—our workforce. ABC strongly believes that employers committed to safety should be viewed as partners in achieving safer workplaces and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s cooperative programs, such as the Voluntary Protection Program, should be further promoted. We urge the department to focus on its long-successful cooperative efforts with employers, which can prevent companies from ending up in the administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. ABC condemns violators who meet the criteria of the SVEP and encourages them to improve their safety process to keep the workforce safe.
Participate in ABC’s STEP Safety Management System to improve your safety performance.
Founded in 1989 as a safety benchmarking and improvement tool, STEP has evolved into a world-class safety management system that dramatically improves safety performance among participants, regardless of company size or type of work. Participating ABC member firms measure their safety processes and policies on key components through a detailed questionnaire with the goal of implementing or enhancing safety programs that reduce jobsite incident rates. Companies receive a rating of Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze or Participant based on their safety performance.
STEP members prove that world-class safety is achievable with a companywide commitment to safety as a core value. ABC’s 2022 Safety Performance Report documents the dramatic impact of STEP participants deploying proactive safety practices—leading indicators such as supervisor safety training, pre-planning for project safe and behavior-based safety—to reduce recordable incidents by up to 84%, making the best-performing companies 645% safer than the industry average.