South Carolina is suing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) over a requirement that would force the state’s State OSHA Plan to increase its maximum civil penalties for workplace safety violations.
The state filed a lawsuit March 14 challenging the requirement, which has State Plan states increase their civil penalties to be in line with federal OSHA’s civil penalties, according to Business Insurance.
Those penalties increase annually under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015.
State filed lawsuit over this before
South Carolina, one of 21 states to have its own federally-sponsored OSHA plan, had sued the DOL previously over the same issue. The judge in that case dismissed the complaint, finding the court didn’t have jurisdiction to make a decision.
The latest lawsuit claims that the OSHA regulation regarding maximum penalties is inconsistent with federal law.
‘Safe employment result of diligent administration, enforcement’
Officials in South Carolina argue that the only justification for the rule requiring state plans to adopt civil penalties equal to or greater than federal penalties is that those penalties have a “greater deterrent effect.”
“This simplistic and conclusory claim ignores the fact that diligent administration and enforcement by state plans can still result in ‘safe and healthful employment and places of employment’ as federal standards, as South Carolina workplaces have demonstrated since 2016,” the lawsuit states.
The state claims that despite its lower fines, its workplaces have reported fewer injuries and illnesses than the national average.