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News Release USDL 97-409
Wednesday, November 12 1997
Contact: Stephen Gaskill (202) 219-8151
CHARLES JEFFRESS OF NORTH CAROLINA ASSUMES POST AS HEAD OF OSHA
Charles N. Jeffress was sworn into office today as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. President Clinton announced his intent to nominate Jeffress to the post August 27, and he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 30, 1997.
Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman administered the oath of office to Jeffress, who will now head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Herman praised Jeffress for the leadership he has demonstrated as director of North Carolina's state OSHA program, saying his joining the Department of Labor creates a "magnificent team."
"At the top of my list of priorities and goals is guaranteeing all Americans a safe and healthful workplace. Bringing Charles Jeffress on board clearly takes us one stop closer to making that goal a reality," Herman said.
U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.), ranking minority member of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, termed Jeffress " the right person at the right time for the right job. We are grateful to the President for searching the entire country to bring us the very best." Congress, the senator said, is looking forward to his success.
As head of OSHA, Jeffress will be responsible for administering a broad program to reduce injuries and illnesses on the job that includes development of workplace safety and health standards to abate hazards, enforcement of those standards, and consultation and education for both employers and workers.
In remarks to well-wishers, family and OSHA staff, Jeffress pledged to "continue the North Carolina tradition of cooperation and communication among business, labor and OSHA."
He added, " To employers who want to work with us to achieve safer workplaces, we will offer you cooperation, consultation, education and training to help you reduce your risk of accidents. We will also use our enforcement authority to motivate employers and to discourage unsafe behavior. We will focus our enforcement where it is most needed and will concentrate on workplaces with high accident rates."
An experienced planner, successful manager and innovative thinker, Jeffress has spent the past 20 years working on labor and workplace issues. Prior to his nomination by President Clinton, he was Deputy Commissioner and Director of OSHA at the North Carolina Department of Labor. In that capacity, he developed safety and health policy for the state and directed OSHA enforcement, consultation, and education and training activities.
Jeffress served as Assistant Commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Labor from 1977 to 1992, focusing on program management, government affairs and policy development. His responsibilities included budget preparation, developing personnel policy, overseeing development of new programs, and acting as chief legislative lobbyist for the agency with the state legislature. He also directed agency research and advised the Commissioner on issues relating to occupational safety and health, employment standards and job training, and personnel.
Jeffress holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1971. He is a 1980 graduate of the Government Executives Institute at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Business Administration and a 1990 graduate of the Program for Senior Executives in Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
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