Coalition Seeks Workplace Safety Protections for Florida Public Sector Workers

March 2, 2010
On March 1, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and its Florida members relaunched efforts seeking occupational safety and health protections for Florida’s public sector workers.

ASSE has joined the Floridians for Public Workplace Safety Coalition with other business, labor and safety and health professionals to pass legislation in Florida requiring the state’s public sector employers to meet federal OSHA standards and begin reporting injury and illness statistics to the state.

Other organizations in the coalition include the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC); and the National Solid Wastes Management Association – FL Chapter (NSWMA).

ASSE and its Florida members have been working the last several years to advance occupational safety and health protections for Florida’s public sector workers. In 2008, the Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety was established. In 2009, the Task Force recommendations were introduced in the state legislature in a bipartisan effort by state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Daytona Beach, and state Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. A Florida House bill passed in committee last year, but the Senate bill was not heard due to a shortened legislative session, a result of the state’s budget crisis.

Recommendations

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 OSHA CFR 1910 (General Industry) and CFR 1926 (Construction) standards within 3 years. Currently, all private sector businesses must follow these standards to protect their workers.

Other suggestions include:

  • The state 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.
  • The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation should expand its annual report to include “state-of-the-state” report covering all public entities. The report card should list each employer’s workers’ compensation claim costs, injury totals, injury incident rate per 100 employees and fatalities.
  • The state should provide a confidential, toll-free telephone number for public employers and employees to ask questions, report perceived unsafe working conditions and request materials and assistance.
  • The Division of Workers’ Compensation should compile a list of professional safety resources to help public employers strengthen workplace safety programs.

While the proposed new legislation for 2010 does not provide for an enforcement mechanism, ASSE officials note that it is a realistic step forward towards greater accountability for worker safety and health as well as appropriate risk management by the state’s public sector employers.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

Sponsored Recommendations

10 Facts About the State of Workplace Safety in the U.S.

July 12, 2024
Workplace safety in the U.S. has improved over the past 50 years, but progress has recently stalled. This report from the AFL-CIO highlights key challenges.

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!