Pushing a bit harder at the constraints of its administrative authority, OSHA announced a new enforcement policy for employers who “demonstrate indifference to their responsibilities under the law.”
The stated intent of OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) is to identify and punish employers who, in OSHA’s view, repeatedly violate worker safety standards. SVEP sets the stage for increased OSHA inspections in these worksites, including mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections.
The “instruction” describing SVEP replaces OSHA’s Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP). Significant changes from EEP include targeting high-emphasis hazards (fall hazards, amputations, combustible dust, crystalline silica, excavation/trenching, lead, and shipbreaking); inspections of other workplaces of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present; and a nationwide referral procedure for U.S. OSHA regions and state plan states.
SVEP is complemented by an adjusted penalty policy. The amounts of OSHA monetary penalties are dictated by federal law. For example, OSHA cannot increase the statutory maximum penalty of $7,000 for serious violations. However, the penalty policy indicates that the average penalty of $1,000 now being issued for serious violations will increase to an average of $3,000 to $4,000. OSHA’s announcement of the SVEP includes an endorsement of the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PAWA), which would increase the size of penalty assessments in OSHA’s enforcement tool box.
The SVEP instruction is available at www.blr.com/enviro_download. Type in 115503 when prompted. The revised penalty policy is available here.