Florida: Coalition pushes for public sector to meet OSHA standards
A coalition of Florida organizations is relaunching an effort to improve occupational safety and health protections for the state's public sector employees.
The Floridians for Public Workplace Safety Coalition -- which includes the American Society of Safety Engineers; Associated Industries of Florida; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Associated Builders & Contractors; and the National Solid Wastes Management Association -- is pushing for legislation that would require the state's public sector employers to meet federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and begin reporting injury and illness statistics to the state.
In 2008, as a result of the group's efforts, the Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety was established. The task force recommended the development of legislation that would require all cities, counties, municipalities, school districts, state agencies and special districts to comply with federal OSHA general industry and construction standards within three years. Currently, all private sector businesses must follow these standards to protect their workers.
The recommendations were introduced in the state Legislature last year in a bipartisan effort by Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Daytona Beach, and Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. The legislation introduced in the House passed in committee, but the Senate bill was not heard due to the shortened legislative session, a result of the state's budget crisis.
The group is also asking that the state:
- Require recordkeeping. The state, according to the group, should require all Florida public employers to collect and retain injury and illness data as incidents occur, using the OSHA recordable criteria and Form 300.
- Expand its annual workers' comp report. The group said the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation should expand its annual report to include a "state of the state" report covering all public entities. The report card, the group said, should list each employer's workers' comp claim costs, injury totals, injury incident rate per 100 employees, and fatalities.
- Provide a confidential phone number. A confidential toll-free telephone number, the group said, should be created for public employers and employees to ask questions, report perceived unsafe working conditions, and request materials and assistance.
- Compile a list of safety resources. The group is urging the state to compile a list of professional safety resources to help public employers strengthen workplace safety programs.
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April 19, 2010
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