The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a memorandum to its regional administrators informing them of the criteria employers must meet to be removed from the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP – which took effect in June 2010 – is a program that subjects employers to more significant enforcement measures and penalties for willful, repeat, and failure-to-abate violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

According to the OSHA memorandum dated August 16, 2012, an employer is eligible for removal from the SVEP three years after the final disposition of the issues raised by the SVEP inspection. Such “final dispositions” include failure to contest the citation, entering into a settlement agreement, the OSHA Review Commission’s issuance of a final order, or the release of a court of appeals decision. In addition, the employer must have abated all SVEP-identified hazards that constitute violations, paid all fines, complied with all settlement terms, and not have received additional serious citations related to the initial SVEP inspection at the initial or related worksites.

The regional administrator will have the discretion – except in cases involving national corporate-wide settlements – to approve the employer’s removal from the SVEP roster. If the employer fails to take the above steps, it will remain on the SVEP list for three more years, then be re-evaluated. For cases involving national corporate-wide settlement agreements, the OSHA Director of Enforcement Programs will make the determination, upon the termination of the agreement, regarding the employer's removal from the program. The memorandum states that removal from the SVEP cannot be used as an incentive for settlement.