COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster, along with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR), today announced a lawsuit and a motion for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and related federal officials challenging OSHA’s unlawful attempt to require that states like South Carolina with state-administered OSHA plans (state plans) increase civil penalties against employers to the level of federal penalties.
“South Carolina OSHA has run its own state plan for more than four decades, consistently outperforming federally-run plans and helping to foster safe work environments for our people – all while maintaining our reputation as a state where companies want to do business,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “This attempt to unlawfully demand the state plan change the civil penalties sets a dangerous precedent not just for South Carolina, but for every other state managing its own plan. This is yet another example of federal bureaucrats – rather than elected officials – trying to make law outside of the constitutional process. We will do everything in our power to protect South Carolinians from this kind of overreach.”
Recently, OSHA began the process of trying to revoke Arizona’s state plan based, in part, on Arizona’s refusal to adopt increased penalties on its businesses. The governor’s lawsuit seeks to prohibit OSHA from taking the same or similar action against South Carolina’s state plan.
South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance President & CEO, Sara Hazzard, reinforced support for South Carolina’s state-administered plan, noting “South Carolina’s state-run OSHA program has a proven record of promoting and enforcing workplace safety for South Carolina employers and their workers. It is the appropriate regulatory framework for providing efficient and effective health and safety oversight in our state.”
Specifically, the lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to declare unlawful OSHA’s mandate in the 2022 annual adjustment that state civil penalties be at least as great as federal civil penalties. Additionally, the lawsuit asks the court to enjoin OSHA from requiring that South Carolina’s state plan adopt greater penalties to comport with federal penalties and from publishing in the Federal Register any proposal to reconsider and revoke OSHA’s final approval of South Carolina’s state plan or take any adverse action against the state plan while this litigation is ongoing.
South Carolina’s civil penalties are set by state law, meaning a new law would need to be debated and passed by the General Assembly each year if OSHA is permitted to continue with its current course of action.