OSHA cracking down on careless employers who endanger workers

In an effort to reduce the number of workers seriously injured or killed while on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently developed the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The program will take aim at employers who “have demonstrated indifference to the OSHA obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” How they’ll do this is through increased and more aggressive worksite inspections, follow-up inspections and greater penalties for safety violations.

Employers of all sizes will fall under the scrutiny of the SVEP, with the following incidents drawing particular attention:

1) Fatality and/or catastrophe situations resulting in three or more hospitalizations or the death of an employee
2) Non-fatality and/or catastrophe situations where you’ve exposed an employee to one of the most severe workplace hazards, including “high-gravity serious violations,” such as fall hazards, combustible dust hazards and lead hazards
3) Hazards due to the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical
4) Any violation considered “egregious” (conspicuously bad or offensive) under current OSHA obligations

The consequences for an employer on the SVEP list are equally severe. First, if just one of your facilities has come under fire, OSHA may order a nationwide inspection of all your facilities. There will be mandatory follow-up investigations at every facility, and OSHA will publicize your citations and violations.

Then there’s the financial hit. Over the next couple of months, the maximum penalty for a violation causing death or serious physical harm will increase from $7,000 to $12,000 – and the maximum penalty for a willful violation will increase from $70,000 to $250,000. (Penalties have increased only once in 40 years, despite inflation.)

June is National Safety Month. Are you doing everything possible to create a safer, OSHA-compliant workplace? Meet OSHA safety standards and prevent injuries year-round with G.Neil’s training and compliance solutions.

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