Safety board blasts Florida's 'inaction' to protect public workers
The scathing comments and a letter sent to Gov. Rick Scott followed the CSB's recommendation to provide federal-level workplace protections for state and municipal public workers. That came in the wake of a 2006 fire and explosion at a water treatment plant in Daytona Beach that killed two public employees and seriously injured a third.
According to the CSB, sparks from a welding torch used by Daytona Beach city workers above a tank of methanol ignited vapors that exploded. The board said if the city had implemented hot work and hazardous communication programs conforming to OSHA safety standards the hazards would likely have been identified and possibly prevented.
In investigating the accident, the CSB said it found 33 other chemical-related incidents that had occurred in Florida from 2003 to 2007. They all involved chemicals that would be covered by the federal OSHA hazard communication regulations.
OSHA safety and health protections apply only to private employees in Florida. The CSB said 27 other jurisdictions operate safety and health programs for their public employees.
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. It does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies.
CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso noted in a letter to Gov. Scott that proposed legislation to provide workplace protections for public workers failed to pass the Legislature in 2009 and 2010. "Since no bill to secure health and safety protections for Florida's public employees was introduced during the 2011 legislative sessions, the Board has concluded that neither you nor the state legislature intend to take action to implement the CSB's recommendations," the letter said.
"The Board maintains that implementation of these recommendations is necessary to secure the health and safety of Florida's public employees," the letter said. He urged state officials to take up the CSB's recommendation again.
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August 11, 2011
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