For Washington state employers who have demonstrated indifference to their Washington Industrial and Safety and Health Act obligations, the Department of Labor and Industries' Division of Occupational Safety and Health may add your company to Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which can result in increased enforcement actions.
Whether or not your business is included on the SVEP list is determined at the time a WISHA citation is issued. Each case and outcome is unique. However, engaging counsel early on during the appeal and/or settlement process can be crucial to vacating or modifying the SVEP designation.
How does the DOSH regional compliance manager determine whether your business will be identified for the SVEP? In general, DOSH looks at the following criteria:
If your company has been designated for SVEP inclusion, DOSH will include your name on its public program list, which is published online. However, that marks only the beginning of your mandatory three-year participation in the program. What can an SVEP enrollee expect?
Mandatory participation in the SVEP means your business will be asked tough questions about your compliance problems. Your company structure will be investigated to determine control and influence of your safety culture. It is vital that you are prepared to communicate management’s commitment to a safe and healthful working environment for all employees.
An employer may be removed from the SVEP list after three years from the date of final order. However, removal is not automatic, and any failure to abide by the program's criterion could result in three additional years on the list.
Jennifer L. Truong is an attorney with Reinisch Wilson Weier PC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. This column is republished with permission from the firm’s website.
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