By: Aaron Wissen

OSHA is making an effort to address some critical safety problems throughout the workplace by recently establishing and implementing what is known as the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (or SVEP); terminating the original Enhanced Enforcement Program.
OSHA is directing their resources and enforcement attention on significant hazards and violations.  They intend to concentrate on those employers who are non-compliant and have demonstrated a lack of concern or interest to their occupational safety and health requirements, either through willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following situations: (1) a fatality or catastrophe situation; (2) industry operations or processes that expose employees to the most severe occupational hazards and those identified as “High-Emphasis Hazards”; (3) exposing employees to hazards related to the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical; or (4) all egregious enforcement actions.  (High-Emphasis Hazards are targeted and include fall hazards and hazards identified from the National Emphasis Programs (NEP’s): amputations, combustible dust, crystalline silica, excavation/trenching, lead, and shipbreaking).

Essentially, this means a broader scope and frequency of inspections, and larger fines for those employers who fall under those criteria.  As OSHA continues to enhance its efforts, it is critical that employers remain determined to meet or exceed these requirements to avoid any high-gravity willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.  If multiple high-gravity violations are received, the employer is then labeled and identified as a severe violator and is subject to OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program. 

The table below represents OSHA’s violation statistics over the past five fiscal years and the percent of change during that time. 


These numbers reveal that OSHA is recognizing and citing more employers who have intentionally violated OSHA standards and disregarded their duty to provide a safe and healthful workplace.  It is imperative that employers take all the necessary steps to meet their OSH Act requirements and mitigate any violations they may receive to prevent falling under OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.