CSB Letter Encourages Florida to Adopt Safety Rules for Public Employees

In a letter released on March 26 by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), Chairman John Bresland urged Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to support worker-safety legislation to protect state, county, and municipal employees in Florida.

During its investigation of the explosion and fire that took the lives of two municipal workers and seriously injured a third at the Bethune Point wastewater treatment facility in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2006, CSB determined that public workers in that state are not protected by federal OSHA worker safety regulations or their state equivalent.

In its final report on the accident, the CSB recommended that the Florida legislature and governor adopt OSHA coverage or the equivalent safety and health protections for public employees, who often perform the same work as their counterparts in the private sector and who are covered by OSHA regulations.

Following the CSB's recommendation, a Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety was appointed to examine the issue and determine whether the state should adopt such worker protections. In its final report the majority of the task force concurred with CSB and affirmed that the state should require public employers and employees in Florida to comply with OSHA standards within three years.

Currently, bills have been introduced in the Florida House of Representatives (HB 1029), and in the Florida Senate, (S1878). Full texts of the two bills are available at www.myfloridahouse.gov and here.

The American Society of Safety Engineers reports on its Web site, www. asse.org, that the Florida House, after saying it was not hearing any new bills, were pursuaded by ASSE's lobbyists to hear the bill in the House Government Affairs Policy Committee. ASSE member Mark Friend, of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and member of the Florida Task Force on Workplace Safety, went up to Tallahassee to testify at the hearing. The bill passed unanimously, by a vote of 7-0.

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