The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is a federal agency created to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Falling under the Department of Labor, OSHA has been around since the 1970s. Although sometimes seen as demanding, OSHA’s purpose is to keep employees safe and healthy on the job.
The Severe Violator Enforcement Program
To that end, OSHA has established the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), also known as “OSHA’s naughty list.” This list includes employers who are considered repeat offenders and imposes various requirements for those companies that find themselves on it. Maintaining compliance with OSHA requirements is critical for the safety of the employees of every business, as well as the success of the business as a whole. As such, it is wise to stay up to date on OSHA’s policies in order to avoid finding yourself on its SVEP list.
There have been some recent changes to the OSHA regulations regarding the SVEP list. Although these revisions did not change what constitutes an offense under OSHA, it expands the circumstances that will land a company on the list.
Violations That Land Employers on the SVEP
Before the recent regulatory changes, employers would be included on the SVEP list in the following specific situations: one willful or repeated violation of an OSHA safety regulation resulting in death or at least three hospitalizations, three or more willful or repeated violations designated as “high gravity,” two or more willful or repeated violations designated as “high emphasis” hazards, or failure to abate a previously cited chemical hazard.
With the new provisions, the circumstances that can land you on the list have been expanded. Specifically, violations are no longer limited to the “high gravity” and “high emphasis” classifications. Instead, an organization can land on this list for either two or more willful or repeated violations or two or more failures to abate. Also, violations include any workplace health or safety hazard, not just high-emphasis or chemical-related violations.
Businesses involved in construction, manufacturing, or laboratory work are likely already concerned about OSHA compliance. But now that SVEP eligibility has been expanded, additional industries will now fall under OSHA’s umbrella.
If your business ends up on the SVEP list, it is important to know that the new regulations require more frequent reporting of incidents and more frequent inspections. These added consequences are time-consuming and inconvenient. OSHA will also make a public press release describing in detail the violation(s) which, clearly, would have a detrimental impact on your business reputation.
Additional Consequences and How to Avoid Them
Businesses that have been added to the SVEP list will now have a more difficult time getting off the list. If you try to contest the violations or the citations you receive, it may take years to get it resolved. The same is true for requesting removal from the list after the hazard that got you on the list has been remedied. Considering that there are more violations that qualify, the processing times for such petitions will be even longer.
The best way to avoid the SVEP list is to be proactive and ensure your employees and managers have been trained in best practices to promote employee safety and health. Be sure to invest in high-quality PPE when applicable and create and implement a plan for responding to potential emergencies. The most important thing is to not become a repeat offender.