Florida: Chairman recommends OSHA coverage for all public employees in state
The CSB recommendation followed an investigation into a 2006 explosion and fire at a city-operated wastewater treatment plant in Daytona Beach, Fla. In response to the board's request, the Florida Legislature convened a 15-member task force to review the issue. In a final report released in December, the task force concurred with the CSB and affirmed that the state should require OSHA compliance for all public employees.
"In 26 states, public employees are not covered by OSHA workplace safety standards," said John Bresland, chairman of the board. "Without those protections and responsibilities, public employees face an undue risk of being killed, injured, or sickened on the job."
The accident, which occurred during maintenance work, involved a crew of city workers using a crane and welding torch. Workers attempted to remove a damaged metal roof above a storage tank containing 3,000 gallons of highly flammable methanol. Sparks from the welding torch ignited vapor from the tank, causing a fire and explosion. Two workers were fatally burned, and another was gravely injured. The CSB concluded that adhering to the OSHA hot work and hazard communication standards could have prevented the accident.
"The accident in Florida should serve as a cautionary tale to the 25 other states that are in the same situation," Bresland said.
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.
March 16, 2009
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