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Government Affairs in Action

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OSH Coverage for Florida's Public Sector Workers


(3/15/10 Email to Florida Members)

To ASSE Members in Florida –

The efforts of ASSE and the Floridians for Public Workplace Safety to advance occupational safety and health coverage for Florida’s public sector workers is moving forward quickly.  This coming Tuesday morning, March 16, two events will be occurring at the Capitol Complex in Tallahassee.  If you can take some time to come and join in these efforts, you will be supporting this effort and ensuring that Florida’s legislators know ASSE members’ interest in occupational safety and health in the state. 

At 9:15-9:45 am, a press conference will be held (location TBD). Following the press conference, a Safety Rally will be held at Waller Park adjacent to the Capitol Complex.  This rally is led by the labor organizations now engaged in the coalition as part of larger labor activities at the Capitol that day.  But the focus will be the legislation ASSE championed to establish this effort.

Dave Heidorn, ASSE’s Manager of Gov’t Affairs and Policy, will be attending these events on behalf of ASSE.  If you are coming, please let Dave know you are coming and he can coordinate with you on specific locations and activities.  You can reach Dave’s mobile phone by email at dheidorn@asse.org or 847/909-4558.  Dave will be in Tallahassee both Monday and Tuesday to support this effort. 

image Also, the Coalition is looking for more partners.  Please take a look at this flyer (doc) explaining the effort and inviting other businesses and organizations to join Floridians for Public Workplace Safety.  We urge you to share this with your employer, businesses, professional leaders, labor leaders and organizations, and any other professional and nonprofit groups possibly interested in joining this effort.  Encourage them to do so.  Contact person for the coalition is Keyna Cory, President, Floridians for Public Workplace Safety at keynacory@paconsultants.com or (850) 566-9575.  ASSE members can also contact Dave Heidorn, ASSE’s Manager of Gov’t Affairs and Policy, with any questions at dheidorn@asse.org or (847) 768-3406.

Thanks,

Jim Smith, ASSE VP for Finance (Gold Coast Chapter)
Tom Cecich, ASSE VP for Professional Affairs
Jim Thornton, ASSE Government Affairs Committee Chair


(2/23/10 Email to Florida Members:)

Subject:  ASSE Legislative Alert – Ask Your Employer to Help Advance OSH Protections for Florida’s Public Sector Workers

Dear ASSE Florida Member –

As you know, ASSE and you, 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, that resulted in the establishment of the Florida Public Task Force on Workplace Safety (http://www.floridaworkplacesafety.org/).  Then, in 2009, the Task Force’s recommendations were introduced in a bipartisan effort by Senator Evelyn Lynn (R-Daytona Beach) and Representative Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) championed by ASSE.  The House bill passed in committee last year, but the Senate bill was not heard due to a shortened legislative session caused by last year’s state budget crisis.

imageFor 2010, we are pleased to announce that the Society and its members in Florida have joined together with other leading Florida organizations in the Floridians for Public Workplace Safety coalition to pass this same legislation, which would require the state’s public sector employers to meet federal OSHA standards and begin reporting injury and illness statistics to the state.  While the legislation does not provide for an enforcement mechanism, 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.  Not only will the states’ public servants benefit, Florida’s taxpayers will begin to be able to know that their tax dollars are not being wasted in poor management of the state’s human resources. 

ASSE is joining the coalition Floridians for Public Workplace Safety with Associated Industries of Florida (AIF); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC); and the National Solid Wastes Management Association – FL Chapter (NSWMA) in the coalition.  This coalition improves greatly the chance we can accomplish our goal in Florida. And, it is significant for bringing together business, labor and the safety and health profession in what we believe is the only unifying effort of its kind in the nation to advance occupational safety and health.   

What You Can Do – As we did in previous years, ASSE will send out Calls to Action when needed to help support this effort as it moves through the Florida Legislature.  We will ask you to write or call your state representative and senator, write your newspaper, write or call a key committee chair and, we hope, show up in Tallahassee to support the effort.  You succeeded at this kind of effort last year and we know you will step up and help again.  So, please, when you receive an alert, take a couple minutes typically to support this effort. 

What You Can Do NOW –  Click here for a flyer (doc) that explains this effort and invites other businesses and organizations to join Floridians for Public Workplace Safety.  We ask you now to share this with your employer, business and professional leaders you may know, labor leaders and organizations, and other professional and nonprofit groups possibly interested in joining this effort.  Encourage them to do so.  Contact person for the coalition is Keyna Cory, President, Floridians for Public Workplace Safety at keynacory@paconsultants.com or (850) 566-9575.  ASSE members can also contact Dave Heidorn, ASSE’s Manager of Gov’t Affairs and Policy, with any questions at dheidorn@asse.org or (847) 768-3406.

Thank you for your support for this effort.  We look forward to providing you with updates as the effort progresses and, hopefully, the news of success at the end. 

Sincerely,

Jim Smith, ASSE VP for Finance (Gold Coast Chapter)
Tom Cecich, ASSE VP for Professional Affairs
Jim Thornton, ASSE Government Affairs Committee Chair


From our 2009 efforts:

ASSE Moving Ahead on Providing OSH Coverage to Florida's Public Sector Workers

Florida’s ASSE members deserve all the credit in the world for succeeding last year at passing one of the more significant occupational safety and health (OSH) bills in recent years in any state or even at the federal level.  The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) recognized the achievement in its You Tube video at here.   At a time when there are few initiatives to advance safety and health, legislation by Senator Lynn and Representative Gibson that ASSE championed created a task force to determine how Florida can provide OSH coverage to its public sector workers.  The task force concluded that Florida can begin to do so.  ASSE is supporting the task force’s recommendations contained in its full report (PDF).

In the 2009 session of the Florida Legislature, ASSE will work to see these recommendations passed into law.  ASSE has engaged the lobbyist who succeeded for us last year.  We have a group of dedicated Florida members who have been working on this issue from the beginning and who will lead the effort again this year.  Ed Granberry Jr. was instrumental in making sure ASSE pursued this issue.  Jim Smith is an ASSE Board member and is long committed to the issue.  Mark Friend of Embry-Riddle University as a member of the task force helped see these recommendations through.  And Frank Lakotich of Alabama, the new ARVP for Government Affairs for Region IV, is also bringing the Region’s support to the effort. 

But we will need your help.  We expect this effort to be difficult.  There is no guarantee of success.  When you are asked to help in ways like contacting your state senator or representative, we would hope that you will take the time and effort to do so.  You can also write letters to the editor in your community, make sure your Chapter knows what is going on.  The more voices we can bring to this effort, the better chances we have.  Please watch for email announcements with more information and requests for help.     

A first step in this effort was this response to a recent Florida Trend article (pdf) on “Dangerous Work.”

Why We Help

No one knows  how important basic occupational safety and health protections are better than Casey Jones, widow of Clyde Jones – who died in the Daytona Beach explosion in 2006. Since the accident that took her husbands life, Mrs. Jones has been an advocate for workplace safety protections. In 2007, she submitted testimony to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Workforce Protections urging members of Congress to support OSHA reform that would provide all public sector workers in the United States with the basic occupational safety and health protections that are afforded to all private sector workers under federal law.  Please take a minute to read her testimony. Without a doubt, you will be reminded of how important it is that ASSE members use our knowledge and experience as safety professionals to influence legislative change that will keep workers safe on the job.

How Florida Members Can Help

We need every ASSE Florida member to contact your state senators and representatives and urge them to support SB 1878 and HB 1029. You can also write letters to the editor in your community and you can educate and engage the members of your chapter.

Learn More ASSE’s Effort to Protect Florida’s Workers

  • Protecting Those Who Work for Us (THIS IS ONLY A DRAFT – we can put the final version up when it is ready.)
  • Florida Trend article, “Dangerous Work
  • ASSE Response to Florida Trend article, “Dangerous Work”
  • ASSE Press Release, “American Society of Safety Engineers Announce Push for Occupational Safety & Health Coverage for Florida Public Sector Workers”
  • Full Report from the Florida Taskforce on Workplace Safety to the Florida Legislature
  • ASSE recommendations to the Florida Taskforce on Workplace Safety
  • ASSE’s brochure  providing support for Florida members to pass the legislation that established the Florida Taskforce on Workplace Safety
  • Bill creating the Public Taskforce on workplace safety that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist
  • Letter from Governor Crist to ASSE’s Florida lobbyist, Kenya Corey, commending ASSE for "having the foresight to bring this issue to the attention of the Legislature.”
  • ASSE’s letters to Senator Evelyn Lynn and Representative Audrey Gibson commending them for introducing a task force to determine how to provide occupational safety and health coverage to Florida public sector workers. Letter to Senator Evelyn J. Lynn Letter to Representative Audrey Gibson
  • On May 24, 2007, ASSE member Jon Turnipseed, who managed safety and health for a California municipal water treatment plant, testified in support of federal efforts to provide occupational safety and health coverage to public sector workers at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.  ASSE’s testimony outlines the problem facing an estimated 8.5 million public sector workers who do not have OSH coverage because the federal OSH Act exempts states that do not have state OSH plans from providing federal level coverage to state, county and municipal workers.  California has a state plan, so Turnipseed was able to testify to the safety and health protections his employer and he was able to provide workers. 
  • Two municipal workers died and another was seriously injured while attempting to remove a steel canopy above a methanol storage tank at the Bethune Point wastewater plant operated by the City of Daytona Beach. The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report revealed that Florida’s lack of safety and health protections for public workers was a direct cause of the deaths.