CSB Urges OSHA Coverage for All Public Employees

Jan. 27, 2009
Citing a fatal explosion in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2006, U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chairman John Bresland issued a new video safety message urging the state to move forward promptly with recommendations to extend OSHA coverage to all its public workers.

"In 26 states, public employees are not covered by OSHA workplace safety standards. Without those protections and responsibilities, public employees face an undue risk of being killed, injured, or sickened on the job," Bresland said. In 2007, CSB recommended that Florida require all state agencies, counties, and cities to follow OSHA standards.

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 CSB's recommendation, the Florida legislature convened a 15-member task force to review the issue. In a final report last month, the task force concurred with the CSB and affirmed that the state should require OSHA compliance for all public employees.

"I commend the task force for its work, and I encourage Governor Crist and the Florida legislature to promptly enact its recommendations," Bresland stated in the safety message.

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. 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. "Our public employees are simply too vital an asset to risk their being killed, injured, or disabled in preventable workplace accidents."

The safety message can be viewed on the CSB's safety message channel, http://www.youtube.com/safetymessages, and also can be read on http://safetymessages.blogspot.com.

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.

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