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Local ASSE Members Appointed to New Florida Workplace Safety Task Force

Posted in on Mon, Oct 13, 2008

Des Plaines, IL (October 13, 2008) — American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Florida members Mark A. Friend, Ed.D, CSP, of Port Orange; John L. Henshaw, of Sanibel; Hastings Williams, Jr., of Jacksonville; and, Scott J. Blaser, CSP, of Oviedo, were appointed recently by Florida Governor Charlie Crist to serve on the newly created 15-member Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety for a term beginning September 4, 2008, and ending January 1, 2009. The first meeting of the task force will take place Friday, October 17 in Orlando followed by meetings Friday, November 14 in Ft. Lauderdale; Tuesday, December 2 in Jacksonville and by conference call on Thursday, December 18.

The task force is charged with making recommendations to determine how best to provide occupational safety and health coverage to Florida’s state, county and municipal workers. A report must be submitted by January 1, 2009.

Last June Governor Crist signed into law HB 967, ‘Workplace Safety’, aimed at improving the safety of government workers, a bill ASSE championed. The bi-partisan legislation was sponsored by Senator Evelyn Lynn (R-Ormond Beach) and Representative Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville).

The need for this legislation grew out of concerns for government worker safety following the tragic 2006 explosion at the Daytona Beach municipal water treatment plant that killed two city workers and severely injured another. A report and recommendations made by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) into the Daytona Beach explosion which found Florida’s lack of required occupational safety and health coverage for its public sector employees was a cause of the workers’ deaths prompted the legislation.

As for the ASSE task force members, Friend is chair of the department of applied aviation sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Henshaw, a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for OSHA is president of Henshaw and Associates, Inc.; Williams is president of Firescience, Ltd.; and Blaser is a director of risk control of the Florida League of Cities.

Countrywide, ASSE members are concerned that the estimated 8.5 million public sector workers in 26 states and the District of Columbia do not currently receive the same federal level of workplace safety protections that all private sector workers are guaranteed by law. In Florida it is estimated that there are 195,968 state government employees and 782,242 local government employees.

Other Floridians appointed to serve on the task force by Governor Crist include Marianne Capoziello, Paul Imbrome, Mike Marinan, James Bairdi, John Kozey, Karen Phillips, James Robertson, Danny Shaw, Albert Huston, Cindy Kane, and, Linda H. South, Secretary – Florida Department of Management Services, who was appointed task force chair.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety society. ASSE has nearly 1400 members in Florida with chapters in Cocoa Beach, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Pensacola and St. Petersburg. For more information on ASSE and the legislation please go to www.asse.org.



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