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SASVEEEK: The Four Elements of an OSHA Violation

- August 2, 2017 by Steve Medellin (View all posts by Steve)

SASVEEK is not the sister of Sasquatch, but rather, an acronym for the tenets of a sound (and just) OSHA violation. Criteria must be met for Compliance Safety Health Officers (CSHOs) to have a solid case to support a citation. Here are the four elements:

SA = Standard Applies: CSHO’s must cite the correct standard for the correct industry. As the first criteria for the violation, the standard must apply to the hazard which is associated with the appropriate standard. For example, if a general industry type company is working at a height of greater than four feet and the CSHO cites Subpart M in the construction industry book, Fall Protection, the standard does not apply.

SV = Standard Violated: Not only must the standard apply, but the standard must have been violated. This is usually done through observation by the CSHO and/or through interviews with employees.  Proof is usually a picture or video.

EE = Employee Exposure: If an observation of a violation occurs, the CSHO needs to ensure s/he has the correct employer of the person he observed violating the standard. For temporary workers, this can be more difficult to uncover. Some questions to determine the employee’s employer are:

- Who tells you what to do?

- Who tells you how to do your work?

- Who tell you what time to be here,  when you can leave, take breaks or go to lunch?

The person directing their work is likely to be associated with the employer. CSHOs must prove an employer/employee relationship when citing employers.

EK = Employer Knowledge: At times, this is the most difficult for CSHO’s to support their case. Employer Knowledge is whether the employer knew or could have known of the presence of the hazardous condition.

Since the supervisor represents the employer, a supervisor’s knowledge of the hazardous condition amounts to employer knowledge. In cases where the employer may contend that the supervisor’s own conduct is an isolated event of employee misconduct, the CSHO will determine the extent to which the supervisor was trained and  managed so as to prevent such conduct, and how the employer enforces the rule.

In closing, SA (Standard Applies), SV (Standard Violated), EE (Employee Exposure), and EK (Employer Knowledge) are  four elements that must be proved by the CSHO to have a solid citation. If any are missing or weak, the employer has an opportunity to successfully argue for removing and/or reducing the citations and penalties.

 

 

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