Washington, D.C. March 26, 2009 - In a letter released today by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), Chairman John Bresland urged Florida Governor Charlie Crist to support worker-safety legislation to protect state, county, and municipal employees in Florida.
During its investigation of the tragic 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, Florida, on January 11, 2006, the 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 the CSB and affirmed that the state should require public employers and employees in Florida to comply with OSHA standards within 3 years.
CSB Chairman John Bresland said, "The CSB believes that all workers should be provided proper workplace protections. Extending OSHA coverage to public employees will protect the well-being of an invaluable sector of Florida's workforce." 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:
Chairman Bresland's letter to Governor Charlie Crist is available on the CSB's website at: http://www.csb.gov/news_releases/docs/CSBLtrtoFLGov03232009.pdf".
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov,
For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Hillary Cohen, (202) 261-3601, cell (202) 446-8094.