The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced last year that it would begin targeting employers with a history of workplace safety violations through a new initiative known as the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). Under the SVEP, OSHA refocused its enforcement efforts on significant hazards and employers that have demonstrated indifference to their workplace safety obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations, in the following situations:
Employers deemed to be severe violators under the SVEP are subject to increased enforcement initiatives, which include:
One critical component of the SVEP is that targeted employers with multiple locations are subject to inspections at related locations and worksites if there is suspicion of a broad pattern of non-compliance.
The SVEP is the embodiment of OSHA’s belief that increased penalties and enforcement will serve to improve workplace safety through deterrence. As stated by Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Labor at OSHA, the SVEP's "higher penalties and more aggressive, targeted enforcement will provide a greater deterrent and further encourage employers to furnish safe and healthy workplaces for their employees."
Having only been initiated ten months ago, it is too early to determine if the SVEP will have the effect that OSHA intended: improved safety in the workplace. From this construction accident lawyer’s perspective though, it is a step in the right direction.