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OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program – Goal is to Hold Most Severe Violators Accountable

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces workplace safety regulations across the country. It is the employer’s responsibility to adhere to these regulations, but they don’t always take heed. Unfortunately, when employers violate these regulations, workers can get seriously injured and even die. An employee injured on-the-job is generally entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other associated costs.

Although employees may be eligible for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured at work, the main goal is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Employees often trust in, and rely on, OSHA to keep a close eye on their work environments. However, this is simply not always possible. OSHA does not have the funding to look into every accident or violation claim. To prevent major violations from slipping through the cracks, the agency implemented its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) to protect employees from exceptionally dangerous work hazards.

SVEP was created to replace OSHA’s Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), which had proven quite ineffective. The goal with SVEP is to hold the most severe violators accountable. Possibly due to the failure of EEP, this new program has been receiving criticism from some stakeholders who claim that it continues to overlook the worst violators while simultaneously placing employers on the list that shouldn’t be on there. However, the 2013 self-review of SVEP found the program to be effective.

In order for an employer to be placed on the SVEP list, several criteria must be met. For starters, a) the violations have to be deliberate or repetitive, or failure to resolve the violations must result in hospitalization of at least three employees, or the death of one or more employees, b) there must be at least two serious injuries, such as falls or amputations, that resulted from the employer’s failure to comply with regulations, c) or there must be at least three violations and failure to correct the discharge of harmful chemicals.

Problems with SVEP

SVEP is not without its issues. Following a review, several inconsistencies were found in the SVEP case log. The most glaring problem? Approximately 25% of the SVEP employers were missing from the log. In order to be removed from the program an employer must correct all hazards, pay the required penalties, and avoid additional citations. These requirements were not met by the majority of employers missing from the log.

How Could SVEP Be Improved?

Due to the ramifications faced by employers included on the SVEP list, the program’s case contested rate is 44%. Although the program seeks to prevent serious Boston workplace injuries, many question whether it’s actually increasing employee safety at all. One minor violation could result in a serious injury, but it takes three of these violations resulting in serious injury to put an employer on the list. Once employers are removed from the list, their record is wiped clean. It stands to reason that increased transparency in the program would go a long way toward reducing on-the-job accidents and injuries.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Workplace Injury Lawyers

If you’ve been injured on-the-job, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP have been fighting for the rights of Boston’s workforce for nearly 50 years. It is your employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe, healthy work environment at all times. If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, we can help.  Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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