Barab Spells Out Changes for Enhanced Enforcement Program

He has suspended the practice of setting goals for new VPP sites and Alliances to direct OSHA's resources instead to enforcement.

An inspector general's report one month ago criticized OSHA's administration of its Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), which was created to focus enforcement efforts on recalcitrant employers. Acting Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab outlined changes in EEP that were already being made -- and some that respond to the Office of Inspector General's report -- in testimony Thursday before the U.S. House Education and Labor Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

A new program named the Severe Violators Inspection Program (SVIP) is being created and "will be a comprehensive review of the existing EEP, focusing more on large companies and less on small businesses," Barab said in his printed statement, which is available on the committee's Web site. Barab said OSHA's new EEP Revision Task Force, consisting of enforcement personnel, regional administrators and their deputies, and Labor Department attorneys, is designing SVIP.

"Some changes under consideration for the program include mandatory -- not recommended -- follow-up inspections, more inspections of other establishments of an identified company, and additional enhanced settlement provisions," Barab said. "The new program will include a more intensive examination of an employer's history for systemic problems that would trigger additional mandatory inspections. OSHA believes that this new program will address each of the six OIG recommendations."

He stressed EEP's contributions, however, saying it increased awareness of criminal violations and thus brought about more referrals: Twelve referrals of allegedly criminal violations were made to the Department of Justice in fiscal 2008, up from six per year in 1993-2003, he said.

He also told members of a House subcommittee yesterday that he's suspended the practice of setting goals for new VPP sites and Alliances to direct OSHA's resources instead to enforcement.

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