Small Business Impact: Ronald Myers, Hot Shot Equipment Co.

Ronald Myers no longer has to worry about the impact of a potential price on carbon or efforts to rewrite workplace regulations. That’s because existing regulations forced him to shut down his iron gate manufacturing shop in Prescott, Arizona.

“American businesses have been regulated out of existence in too many cases,” Myers says. “All the extra layers of required safety devices make it impossible to compete with the rest of the world.”

When Myers started his first business in 1971, he could use oil-based paints, which bonded with iron work. But in the last 10 years, EPA has “regulated oil-based paint out of existence,” Myers says. Now, the average life expectancy for exterior paint is 7 years, down from 15.

Myers, who estimates that he has worked on more than 17,000 jobs without any workplace claims or complaints, was also subject to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements that impeded his craftspeople. “Everything around the shop has to have guards and attachments so workers can’t use their hands. The regulations and requirements make it tough for a medium-size business to compete with foreign suppliers who can use their hands to make their products.”

As well meaning as many labor and environmental regulations are, they have unintended consequences that impact successful employers. Further, while any one regulation may be reasonable, the collective weight of hundreds of rules and the confusion that often goes with them, can overwhelm employers.

The current administration appears to be set on adding to the burden. It is considering a Labor Department regulation pertaining to employee classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an effort by OSHA to impose its concept of safety and health programs, and still another that would change the way employers record ergonomics injuries and how many they would have to record.

Myers, meanwhile, plans to sell real estate and help out at his family’s business, manufacturing equipment for making wood shutters.