By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

In the two years since the start of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), CPL 02-00-149 (June 18, 2010), the list of severe violators has grown considerably. The SVEP Directive defines severe violators as those “employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” In addition, the SVEP also created “a nationwide referral procedure in which OSHA may inspect related worksites/workplaces of a SVEP employer if OSHA identifies a broader pattern of non-compliance.”

According to OSHA’s SVEP log as of the end of June 2012, 330 establishments were designated as severe violators. Previously OSHA had reported that only about 180 employers had been cited under the program. Of note, Bloomburg BNA reports that “59 establishments that had been added to the list since the program’s June 2010 start have been removed after successfully appealing a citation that landed them in the program.” Daily Labor Report (July 26, 2012), no. 144.

The SVEP is consistent with OSHA’s revised penalty policy, numerous emphasis programs, and changes to OSHA’s Whistleblower Special Investigations Manual, all of which favor stringent enforcement over cooperative programs. As a nationwide referral under the SVEP can lead to substantial costs and OSHA inspections at company facilities across the country, it is ever more important to be vigilant in carefully reviewing and responding to OSHA citations.