OSHA Ramping Up Enforcement of Workplace Safety Violations
In the third quarter of 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced they were expanding criteria for placement on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).
The expansion of criteria for being entered into this program allows OSHA to conduct more rigorous enforcement before violators cause irreversible harm to their workforce.
We’ll review the role of OSHA, what the new SVEP criteria are, and how you can ensure your organization remains OSHA-compliant.
OSHA’s Authority in the United States
OSHA was founded in 1970 through an act of Congress to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”
OSHA has jurisdiction over 7 million worksites within the geographic boundaries of the United States. Employers who operate within this jurisdiction typically maintain compliance through regular record-keeping and mandated reporting.
OSHA has the authority to conduct in-person investigations for several reasons including notification of severe risk to workers, repeated injury claims, and reported fatalities. OSHA prioritizes inspections based on urgency, from imminent danger situations through follow-up inspections.
Inspections are part of the process of being placed on the SVEP list.
Hybrid work and OSHA reporting
As the criteria for landing in the SVEP expand, it is essential not to overlook reporting for your remote and hybrid workforce. If any worker within OSHA’s jurisdiction suffers a severe injury (requiring more than first-aid) during the execution of their work duties, the injury should be reported to OSHA.
Failure to report could be considered purposeful disregard and trigger an OSHA investigation.
Learn more about how you can ensure the health and safety of your hybrid and remote workforce.
The Severe Violator Enforcement Program
The SVEP was established in 2010 to enable the concentration of investigative and enforcement resources to focus on the most “recalcitrant employers who demonstrate indifference to the health and safety of their employees through willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations of the OSH Act.”
This program allows OSHA to intervene with these entities to attempt collaborative correction while holding employers accountable for placing workers at risk.
The list of employers who are in the SVEP is visible to the public to ensure workers, associates, buyers, and other stakeholders are aware of the standing of these organizations. The standard duration for remaining on the list is three years.
Original criteria for being placed in the SVEP
According to the original criteria, employers could be placed in the SVEP if an inspection resulted in findings that met one or more of the following:
- A fatality with one or more willful or repeated violations or failure-to-abate notices
- A non-fatality/catastrophe with two or more willful or repeated violations
- Failure-to-abate notices that are high gravity violations related to High-Emphasis Hazards
- A non-fatality/catastrophe inspection with three or more willful or repeated violations
- Failure-to-abate notices that are high gravity violations related to the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical
- Is an egregious case
New criteria for being placed in the SVEP
One of the most significant changes to the criteria is that organizations be placed in the SVEP after at least two willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate high-gravity violations of OSHA standards, regardless of hospitalization or fatality. This change is likely to result in more organizations being added to the SVEP list.
Additional changes include:
- The addition of a timeline for conducting follow-up or referral inspections. These must be completed within one year, but not longer than two years, after the final order.
- The three-year timeline for removal from the program is triggered by verification that all SVEP-related hazards have been abated, rather than when the final order is issued.
- The timeline can be reduced to two years if employers consent to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes the implementation of a health and safety management system.
Removal from the program
Having your organization delisted is subject to paying all penalties, avoiding any new citations, and abatement of issues related to the original violation. The changes noted above allow for a more efficient and rapid removal from SVEP as long as you meet all the requirements.
How an EHS Audit and Training Can Keep You OSHA Compliant
Proactively managing the health and safety of your workforce through an Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) audit and implementation of a safety training program is the best way to remain not only OSHA compliant, but compliant with other regional health and safety regulations as well.
EHS audits can identify processes and functions that put your workforce most at risk. Findings from audits often result in identifying areas where improvements lead to cost-savings in both reduced fines and increased productivity.
When your organization is operating in multiple locations, an audit gives you a birds-eye view of where you stand with compliance across any number of regulatory jurisdictions.
After addressing high-risk factors identified through your EHS audit, the next best action you can take is to implement a training program designed specifically to teach employees best practices for avoiding workplace accidents and injury.
For certain high-risk industries, these trainings should take place at regular intervals to ensure the processes are properly followed.
An EHS consultant can assist your organization in developing a comprehensive training program that addresses your unique needs and help your teams implement this training.
Learn more about Antea Group’s EHS Auditing and Compliance services
About Antea Group
Antea®Group is an environment, health, safety, and sustainability consulting firm. By combining strategic thinking with technical expertise, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We work in partnership with and advise many of the world’s most sustainable companies to address ESG-business challenges in a way that fits their pace and unique objectives. Our consultants equip organizations to better understand threats, capture opportunities and find their position of strength. Lastly, we maintain a global perspective on ESG issues through not only our work with multinational clients, but also through our sister organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and as a founding member of the Inogen Alliance. Learn more at us.anteagroup.com.