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Bill would shift responsibility for workplace safety rules

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Preventing Workplace Violence

State Sen. Doug Berger is not happy with the way the state labor commissioner is enforcing workplace safety laws.

He has proposed a bill that would strip workplace safety enforcement duties from Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and move them to a yet-to-be-created agency called the Employment Safety and Security Division, to which the governor would appoint members. Currently, the labor commissioner operates independently of the governor’s office.

Berger lost to Berry when he ran for labor commissioner in 2000.

Berry has been assailed for her handling of child labor and occupational safety issues. The state House of Representatives voted 106-0 to require the Labor Department to report the number of complaints alleging child labor violations, the length of department probes and the number of investigators assigned.

A 2006 University of North Carolina study reported that more than four out of five 16- and 17-year-old workers performed prohibited tasks on the job. The North Carolina House also voted to increase child labor fines from $250 to $500 for first-time violations and $1,000 for additional infractions. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

North Carolina child labor fines are among the lowest in the country.

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