OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking public comments by Oct. 15 on its proposal to give North Carolina final approval to operate its' OSHA independently from federal OSHA.
Federal OSHA enforcement was discontinued in North Carolina in 1975, but after the death of 25 workers in the 1991 fire at Imperial Foods Products in Hamlet, federal OSHA reasserted limited concurrent federal enforcement until March 1995.
"North Carolina has made significant strides in recent years in improving workplace protection for workers within its borders," Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Dear said in announcing the proposal. "We are confident that North Carolina employers and employees can continue to expect an effective state OSHA program."
When a state receives final approval under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, federal OSHA formally relinquishes its concurrent enforcement authority in the state.
To be approved for independent operation under the OSH Act, a state must run an occupational safety and health program that is found to be performing in a manner at least as effective as the federal program. It also must have a sufficient number of safety inspectors and industrial hygienists to run the program effectively. Finally, the state must provide data to federal OSHA on its activities.
North Carolina's program is essentially similar to federal OSHA's. The state adopts standards that are at least as effective as their federal counterparts--usually identical--and the plan has similar provisions governing emergency temporary standards, imminent danger proceedings, coverage under the general duty clause, variances, safeguards to protect trade secrets, protection of employees against discrimination for exercising their rights under the plan, and employer and employee rights to participate in inspection and review proceedings. Contests of citations and/or penalties are handled by the independent North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Review Board and may be appealed to the North Carolina Superior Court and ultimately to the North Carolina State Supreme Court.
The North Carolina Department of Labor administers the state plan. North Carolina does not cover railroad or private sector maritime employment, employment on Indian reservations or military bases, and enforcement relating to contractors or subcontractors on any Federal establishment where the land has been ceded to the Federal government.
Public comments addressing OSHA's proposal to grant final approval to North Carolina should be postmarked no later than Oct. 15 and submitted in quadruplicate to the OSHA Docket Officer, Docket No. T-031, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Each comment must clearly identify the issues to be addressed and the positions taken. Documents and evaluation reports are public record and are available for review. North Carolina will have the opportunity to respond to all submissions.
Interested persons also may request an informal public hearing on the proposed final approval by submitting their request to the above docket by Oct. 15. OSHA will determine whether to hold a hearing by Nov. 14, and will publish notice of the date and location in the Federal Register. Decision on whether to grant final approval also will appear in the Federal Register following close of the comment period or certification of the record if a hearing is held.
Notice of OSHA's proposal that the North Carolina state plan receive final approval was scheduled to appear in the Sept. 13 Federal Register.
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