CHERIE BERRY'S LONG HISTORY OF IGNORING WORKPLACE HAZARDS: The North Carolina Justice Center, in a report to be released in coming days, has now traced how rarely Berry’s OSH has hit its business partners, even after fatalities, with its stiffest penalty – for those that willfully, or knowingly, put workers in harm’s way. OSH inspections after the deaths led to 13 citations for willful violations against nine employers, each carrying a maximum penalty of $70,000, said the report made available to McClatchy. But nine of the citations against five companies were later dropped. In other words, only four employers faced the harshest penalty out of more than 240 firms with fatalities, the group said. In separate studies, the AFL-CIO found that the average fatality-related fines assessed to North Carolina employers in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 were 25.3% and 38.4% of the national average. McClatchy gathered details about some of these incidents as part of a six-month investigation into the ways the state enforces laws designed to safeguard about 4 million workers. Even in some of the state’s deadliest workplace disasters — incidents that could have been averted with modest corrective actions — employers have been spared severe financial penalties, interviews and documents show.