NC Labor Department Publishes New Rules Affecting All Employers For “Airborne Infectious Disease” Emergencies

Just when you thought we were done with the pandemic, Republican State Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson has launched new proposed rules that deal with “airborne infectious disease” emergencies. These rules are not yet final or certain. They must first go through the public hearing/ commenting stage.

The new proposed rules are found here, pages 833-840.

What does this regulation force upon employers in the state of North Carolina?

  1. It defers to the World Health Organization, the federal CDC and the US Department of Health and Services numerous times on various technical issues
  2. It calls an emergency when nearly any other governmental entity calls an emergency
  3. It mandates social distancing, masking and PPE in the workplace
  4. It requires providing and maintaining respirators, and running an OSHA-mandated respirator program
  5. It requires certain processes to be followed when employees develop symptoms or a respiratory illness
  6. It mandates how employers must decide when sick employees can return to work
  7. It has rigorous requirements for cleaning surfaces, doorknobs, elevator buttons and the like
  8. It mandates an Exposure Control Plan to be prepared by employers, employee training and certain recordkeeping
  9. It mandates changes in ventilation and HVAC filters used

There are other provisions also.

It would be interesting to know what machinations behind the scenes motivated a Republican Labor Commissioner to propose such rules. This arose nearly out of nowhere, and will tie up employers statewide in knots if allowed to proceed. That is presumably the intent.

Update: Carolina Journal has additional details. And Jon Hardister, who is running to replace Mr. Dobson, has comments below.


7 thoughts on “NC Labor Department Publishes New Rules Affecting All Employers For “Airborne Infectious Disease” Emergencies

  1. Commissioner Josh Dobson stated in a press release that the Rules Review process is in no way an endorsement of the proposed rules. The petitions triggered the Rules Review process, allowing time for public comment.

    Commissioner Dobson stated that he is allowing the process to move forward in order to comply with the Rules Review process. He stated that the NC Department of Labor was sued in 2020 for not following this process, and that the court ultimately ruled against the Department. As such, he is following the protocols for petitions and hearings, but he is doing so in order to follow the protocols in light of the court decision, not as an endorsement of what is being proposed.

    At the end of the process, the Labor Commissioner can either accept the rules, reject them, or send them back for adjustments. Although I cannot speak for Commissioner Dobson, I am confident that he will make the right decision in this matter.

    Last week I issued a press release of my own, stating my opposition to these rules. I am firmly opposed to these rules, as we do not need to enact any additional burdens or mandates on workers and businesses. I have made my position clear to leadership in the NC Department of Labor and to the public.

    Rep. Jon Hardister
    Candidate, NC Department of Labor

    1. Thanks, Jon, for clarifying. But why was the “process” initially being entertained during 2020?

      I really think the people of this state need to provide Dobson with enough testimony and comments to justify his putting a stop to this. And I hope he then does so.

  2. So the “cure” for common illnesses as old as mankind is to force mandates that have been medically and scientifically proven useless?
    How typically governmental.

      1. This is interesting…..from Mr. Hardister’s statement in the above link from the Carolina Journal, it’s interesting his word selection. Who are these “stakeholders” he is referring to? Why not just “citizens”? This is the same verbiage used from the progressive (not just Democrats) big government elected officials. See point number 1 in your post. Mr. Hardister’s comments was a nod to his donors and corporate interests that could absorb these possible regulations that would put their smaller competitors out of business.

        From the CJ article:
        Hardister said if elected, he would maintain an open-door policy that allows citizens and stakeholders across the state to offer input on safety protocols, but stated again he wouldn’t support any unnecessary and excessive mandates that would hurt businesses. No thanks to supporting someone who obviously hasn’t a clue as to what time it is, based upon an excerpt from his full comment.

        If this regulation defers to the non elected officials from WHO, CDC, U.S. Dept of H & S, and this guy has such a limp wristed response!? Wait, you say…those who head these departments (minus WHO) have been confirmed…..yeah they’ve been confirmed by men who give responses like Jon Hardister just gave to the Carolina Journal!,not%20merely%20enhancing%20shareholder%20value.

        I’ll go with Milton Friedman

        1. Tommy, thanks for all the thought you put behind these comments. Obviously, this proposed regulation is absolute trash. I am still unclear after reading the Carolina Journal article and Hardister’s comments how precisely this happened. I was completely unaware that labor unions could successfully petition to demand regulations– especially when it ventures into a type of regulation that had never been attempted or seriously considered under existing law. And I was unaware that a court could require it. One observer told me verbally that there is a state Labor Commission that can initiate these moves; and these commissions are often packed with progressives. Back during 2020, Cherie Berry was the labor commissioner, and Dobson had not yet been seated. I think we all deserve a fuller clarification as to how this happened, and who did this.

          One old post at the Daily Haymaker indicated that Dobson had once opposed what state Treasurer Dale Folwell had been trying to do to rein in medical costs; and that there had been some influence from the hospital PAC’s. I really don’t know if the hospital PAC’s somehow played a role in this situation.

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