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North Carolina OSHA agency faces criticism from state politicians

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal governmental agency tasked with regulating and enforcing workplace safety laws. By law, states are required to adhere to OSHA mandates. In an effort to address workplace concerns unique to the state and region, North Carolina is one of 22 states that has chosen to develop its own state-run OSHA plans. While many of the functions of OSHA are considered necessary and important, some state politicians are concerned about the financial toll complying with such regulations puts on small business owners.

State and federal OSHA branches are responsible for ensuring that all businesses, regardless of size, are in compliance with workplace safety laws. Many such laws, however, are the direct result of findings which grew out of investigations into workplace accidents.

Several North Carolina politicians recently gathered at a press conference to discuss what many of them consider to be unnecessary and punitive safety measures imposed by OSHA. Republican Labor Commission, Cherie Berry, went on to accuse the state agency of focusing on "penalties and citations" rather than "education and training". She contended that taking this approach only serves to harm small business owners who are often financially penalized for failing to comply with the numerous OSHA laws.

While no OSHA officials were on hand to respond to those concerns being raised, there is little doubt that improving workplace safety remains the agency's top concern. Moreover, OSHA officials would likely argue the agency is serving to protect the financial interests of small business owners who would likely be forced to close should a workplace accident and subsequent worker injuries take place.

Source: News Observer, "Labor Commissioner Berry says NC small businesses hurt by some federal regulations," Laura Finaldi, July 29, 2013

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