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What is the Severe Violator Enforcement Program?

In 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), introduced the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program, shortened to SVEP, is aimed at what OSHA terms "recalcitrant employers" who show they are indifferent to worker safety by receiving citations for violations that are considered willful, repeated or failure-to-abate significant hazards.

SVEP replaced a program whose effectiveness and efficiency had been criticized by government auditors. The program was created to focus on increased inspections of employers who meet the criteria for the program. According to OSHA, an employer may be placed in the program for one of the following reasons:

  • A fatality or catastrophe inspection that has one or more willful or repeated violations or notices for failure to abate a violation.
  • A non-fatal inspection that has two or more willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations for certain high-emphasis violations.
  • A non-fatality inspection with three or more willful or repeated violations that deal with the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical.
  • The case is egregious.

OSHA posts lists of the employers in SVEP each quarter. The most recent list, released July 1 and available at OSHA's enforcement page, lists more than 420 employers throughout the U.S. Of those, nearly 260 were construction employers. That amounts to about 60 percent, similar to the percentage in a January 2013 white paper, when the agency reported that 60 percent of the cases it had placed in the program involved construction employers.

Once on the list, the only way an employer can be removed is through lining out or removal. Lining out happens when the employer's case no longer qualifies for the program because the violation has been deleted by a court adjudication or settlement agreement. Removal occurs when the case meets criteria for good behavior.

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