Fed board slaps Florida for “unacceptable response” on worker safetyby John Kennedy | July 18th, 2011
Florida drew a rare rebuke Monday from the federal Chemical Safety Board, for failing to enact workplace protections for state and municipal employees, following the deaths in 2006 of two plant workers at a Daytona Beach wastewater plant.
In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said that legislation providing workplace protections failed to pass in 2009 and 2010. Last spring, no legislation was even introduced.
In issuing its first ever “unacceptable response,” to a state and its Legislature, the non-partisan safety panel again called for lawmakers to approve standards similar to those in place for private employees under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“The board maintains that implementation of these recommenations is necessary to secure the health and safety of Florida’s public employees. We therefore strongly encourage you and your colleagues in the state Legislature to reconsider the CSB’s recommendations,” Moure-Eraso wrote Scott.
Doug Martin, lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), said the slap by the federal agency was deserved. The Florida League of Cities has fought state recommendations developed by a task force comprised of leaders from the public and private sector.
The issue was shelved this year, though, as lawmakers steered clear of enacting measures the League of Cities has insisted would prove too costly for cities, Martin said. Experts said the two workers killed in the Daytona Beach explosion, and a third badly burned, may have been spared if they had been better trained in safety procedures.
“Florida is a national embarrassment,” Martin said.