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Veto Bill Stripping Safety Consultants of Workers’ Comp Lawsuit Immunity, ASSE Tells Illinois Governor

A letter from ASSE President Kathy Seabrook on behalf of ASSE’s Illinois members urged Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to veto legislation (SB 3287) that would strip from independent safety consultants current immunity from lawsuits under the state’s workers’ compensation law.  ASSE and its Illinois members also opposed the legislation before votes in the Illinois Senate and Assembly.  The bill went to the Governor’s desk for signature on June 3.

ASSE also urged its Illinois members to contact Governor Quinn with the following June 3 message and contact information for Governor Quinn –

To ASSE Illinois Leaders:

(SPREAD THE WORD NOW:  Share this message with your chapters, any other Illinois ASSE member, or other safety and health professional and encourage them to join you in this effort.)

SB 3287, the legislation that strips independent safety consultants of the immunity they now have under the Illinois Workers’ Comp Law has been sent to the Governor’s desk TODAY.

Even if you are not an independent consultant, you may want to be one day.  Help out your future self and your consultant colleagues and make sure that every safety and health professional, every company you work with, and anyone else knows about this bill sends some kind of communication to Governor Quinn to urge him to veto this unfair bill that will make your liability insurance, workers’ comp rates and doing business in Illinois even more expensive.

ASSE has overnighted the attached letter from ASSE President Kathy Seabrook today, and ASSE and I will post info about the effort on the web site and in social media.

But, even more important than ASSE speaking up is that the Governor hear from individual Illinois citizens and voters, especially in an election year.  At this stage of the game, it’s most important that you send a short, to-the-point personal message.  I’ve included a sample one below but encourage you to put your respectful feelings in your own words.  Canned messaging is easily dismissed.  A fact sheet on the effort is also attached.

About 50 organizations and businesses are working impressively hard in Springfield to fight this effort to make independent safety consultants sitting ducks for more lawsuits, led by Jay Shattuck on behalf of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.  They are fighting for you.  Please help them in that fight.

Contact information for the Governor:

Tweet:  @GovernorQuinn

Email: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx

SpringfieldOffice of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244
TTY: 888-261-3336
ChicagoOffice of the Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: 312-814-2121

 

Dear Governor Quinn:

I am an occupational safety and health professional who lives and works in Illinois.  I strongly urge you to veto SB 3287.  If this legislation becomes law, my liability insurance premiums will rise and make it much more difficult for many small and medium employers in the state to hire me to help them protect their workers.  As a result, workplaces in the state will be less safe, more workers will die on the job, and injuries and illnesses will increase.  SB 3287 will only make it more expensive for to do business in the state, especially for me and my safety consultant colleagues who are all small business people trying hard to do our jobs preventing deaths, injuries and illness on the job.  Please don’t make our work impossible.  Veto SB 3287.

Sincerely,

Your name

Your town

ASSE Backs Effort to Save Independent Safety Consultant Lawsuit Immunity under Illinois Workers’ Comp Law

On behalf of its member independent safety consultants in Illinois, ASSE has opposed a bill (SB 3287) in both the Illinois Senate and House that aims to strip unfairly their current immunity from lawsuits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act but continue to protect insurers and companies who provide the same safety services.  ASSE opposed the bill because it would unfairly limit independent business person’s ability to make a living, make it much more difficult for many Illinois companies to obtain safety consulting services, and go against well-founded public policy to encourage companies to address workplace safety.  An impressive group of more than 50 Illinois organizations and companies, led by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, are fighting the Illinois Trail Lawyers effort to pass this bill.

Maryland Bills to Require Contractor Safety Prequalification Backed by ASSE

ASSE, on behalf of its members in Maryland, supported bills in the Senate and House of Delegates to require the Maryland Department of Labor to develop and adopt a safety questionnaire and a safety rating system for use by the state’s public sector employers determine if bidders on public sector construction projects are committed to workplace safety and health.  “The importance of prequalification of contractors and subcontractors in managing the safety and health of workers on construction sites is widely understood by ASSE’s members and is an assumed best practice among the best construction employers,” ASSE President Kathy Seabrook said.  Letters expressing support went to sponsors Senator Karen Montgomery and Delegate Brian McHale.  Chairs of the Senate Finance Committee and House Economic Matters Committee were urged to adopt the legislation in their committees.

Florida Governor Scott Signs ASSE-Backed Texting Ban Into Law

On May 28, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill to ban texting while driving actively supported supported by ASSE and its members in Florida.  ASSE joined in a state-wide, bipartisan effort to pass the bill that was led by the FL DNT TXT+DRIVE COALITION, as the press release announcing Governor Scott’s action indicates.  The new law now bans anyone from typing on a device while operating a moving vehicle, though texting while stopped at a red light would still be considered acceptable.  The first offense is a $30 fine and any additional tickets within 5 years is a $60 fine with 3 points taken off the offender’s driver’s license.

Contractor Prequalification Bill Backed by ASSE in Maryland

ASSE and its members in Maryland expressed support for a bill (HB 1486) that would require the Maryland Department of Labor to develop and adopt a safety questionnaire and a safety rating system for the state’s public sector employers to use to help ensure that bidders for public sector construction projects can demonstrate a commitment to worker safety and health.  ASSE’s letter to Delegate Brian K. McHale (D-Baltimore City) stressed the importance of contractor prequalification in managing the safety and health of workers on construction sites among ASSE’s members and the best construction employers.  Contractor prequalification is also an integral element in the
ANSI/ASSE A10.33 Safety Requirements for Construction & Demoltion, ASSE said.

Arizona Texting Ban Sponsor Speaks Eloquently in Defeat

Facing certain defeat on the Arizona Senate floor, Senator Steve Farley still spoke with eloquence and calm determination in support of an amendment that would move forward his bill (SB1218) to ban texting in the state.  Senator Farley’s defense of the effort and the debate against it was captured YouTube.   ASSE’s members in Arizona fully supported Senator Farley and his bill.

ASSE Florida Members Back Legislative Effort to Ban Texting

Inspired by fellow ASSE members’ effort to ban texting in Arizona, Florida’s ASSE
members have joined in an effort to pass legislation that would ban texting in their state.  Letters to Senator Detert (R-Venice) and Representative Holder (R-Sarasota) back their legislation, SB 52/HB 13, which is seen as having a good chance of passing into law this year.  ASSE also has joined the FL DNT TXT+DRIVE Coalition in support of the effort.  HB 13 won the support of the House Economic Affairs Committee on April 3.  ASSE’s policy calls for much more comprehensive approaches to combat distracted driving.  In states like Arizona and Florida where no distracted driving laws exist, though, banning texting is a first realistic step towards a more comprehensive goal.

Arizona ASSE Members Back Texting Ban Bill

On behalf of its nearly 600 Arizona members, ASSE voiced support for a bill (SB 1218) by Senator Steve Farley to prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle in Arizona.  While ASSE’s own policy position calls for a total ban on the use of electronic devices while driving, ASSE saw that SB 1218 could serve as a significant first step for Arizona in addressing the deadly and, to the economy of Arizona, expensive risk of distracted driving on the state’s highways.  Based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Arizona Department of Transportation data, estimates can be made that 181 deaths and 10,901 injuries in Arizona could be linked to this risk in 2011.  Likewise, the economic loss to the state from cell phone use on thet state’s highways can be estimated at $638 million in 2011.

ASSE Asks for Public Hearing in Illinois Asbestos Abatement Rulemaking

Concerned with the lack of outreach to safety and health professionals and the quick action taken to adopt amended rules, ASSE filed a comment asking that the
Illinois Department of Public Health hold a hearing on the changes to its rules governing Asbestos Abatement for Public and Private School and Commercial and Public Buildings.

ASSE Signals Opposition to Reported California Effort to Corner PEL Work for CIHs

On behalf of its nearly 3,000 members in California, ASSE sent a letter to the sponsor of state legislation that has been reported will be used by the California Industrial Hygiene Council (CIHC) to ensure that only CIHs would be able to supervise or direct the monitoring of control methods for PELs in California workplaces.  Since CIHs are not uniquely qualified to do such work, ASSE said it would oppose the CIHC’s effort.  ASSE’s members have earned CSPs, CIHs, CHMMs and a wide variety of professional designations.  As a result, ASSE is committed to ensuring that any one occupational safety and health designation is not inappropriately given an unfair competitive advantage through legislation or regulations.

ASSE’s Michigan Members Oppose Bill to End MIOSHA

ASSE’s members in Michigan have stated their staunch support for Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) in a letter to the sponsor of a bill (SB 14) bill that would abolish the state plan.  Michigan members cited the agency’s ability to work flexibly with employers, unique consultation services, its positive budget return to the state and, most importantly, the state’s positive fatility, injury and illness rates.

ASSE Members in Maryland Oppose Bill to Create New IH Designations

ASSE members in Maryland have taken a stand against a bill that would establish two new industrial hygiene designations in the state.  In an ASSE Region IV letter to the bill’s sponsor, members opposed the bill because it exacerbated the confusion employers already face in determining quality, recognized professional designations in the occupational safety and health field and inappropriately recognized a membership organization, giving that group an unfair competitive advantage in Maryland.

ASSE’s Michigan Members Continue Opposition to Sanitarian Licensure Substitute Bill

Following opposition from ASSE and others, the House sponsor of a Michigan bill (HB 6205) to license sanitarians offered a last-minute Substitute that quickly passed the Michigan House on November 10. ASSE opposed the original bill because it would have required a sanitarian license to do occupational safety and health and environmental health. The Substitute provides a carve-out for safety and health practitioners, but the definitions are still overly broad and threaten environmental practitioners’ ability to practice. The bill also would define occupational safety and health practice over our members’ objections. In response, ASSE’s members in Michigan have written a letter told the Senate sponsor of the companion bill (SB 1407) of their continued objections to this legislation.

ASSE Opposes Sanitarian Bill in Michigan

ASSE members in Michigan are working to make sure a bill that would license sanitarians in Michigan does not keep them from practicing as safety, health and environmental professionals in that state.  The bill, perhaps unintentionally, would require anyone doing occupational safety and health and most environmental work to be a sanitarian.  Letters to the House sponsor of HB 6205 and Senate sponsors of SB 1407 have been sent by ASSE.  Michigan members also have been contacting their state representatives about the bill, as an ASSE GA email blast encouraged them to do.  Most importantly, on August 28, Steve Monet, Pat Fisher and Drake Drobnick took the time to meet with the key House staffer at the capitol in Lansing who told them similar opposition is coming from other sectors, including business and state agencies.  The sponsor now recognizes the bill’s unanticipated consequences and is taking steps to draft a new bill limited to sanitarians’ public health scope of practice, which will be shared with ASSE and other stakeholders for comment.

ASSE Protects SH&E Level Playing Field on Mold in Arkansas and Maryland

In Arkansas and Maryland, ASSE is taking a stand for all SH&E professionals by opposing legislation that would inappropriately give preference to one SH&E designation in dealing with possible risks associated with mold.  In Arkansas, an ASSE letter objects to a bill that has already passed the House.  In Maryland, an ASSE letter states for the record our Maryland members’ opposition to a bill even though the bill has already failed.

To be clear, ASSE does not oppose CIHs doing mold work.  What ASSE has consistently objected to over the years are any efforts intended to keep SH&E professionals who may have the experience and training to assess and address mold risks from doing that work.  ASSE members agree that nothing in the CIH designation itself determines a unique ability to deal with mold risks.  Given ASSE’s wide-ranging membership that includes CIHs, CSPs, CHMMs and every other SH&E designation – as well as members working towards such designations – it is ASSE’s purpose to protect and promote a level playing field among SH&E professionals.  ASSE does not seek competitive advantages for any one group of SH&E professionals over other SH&E professionals when such an advantage is not based in professional training and experience.

ASSE Oregon Members Back Employer Right to Set Safety Rules on Marijuana

On behalf of its members in Oregon, ASSE sent a letter to a key Oregon House Committee expressing support for occupational safety and health provisions of bills before the committee to protect an employer’s right to determine safety rules concerning the use of marijuana.  The issue is a concern of safety and health professionals due to the legal medical use of marijuana allowed in Oregon.  HB 2497(pdf) and HB 3502 (pdf) would clarify that Oregon law does not require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace, to allow its possession or consumption, to allow an impaired person in the workplace, to restrict efforts to have a drug-free workforce. (3.16.09)

ASSE Urges Maryland to Include A10 Standards in Crane Rule

In rulemaking by the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry addressing crane safety, ASSE urged inclusion of references to a more complete set of appropriate A10 voluntary consensus standards by the Division. Letter (11/10/08)

Florida Governor Crist Commends ASSE for Public Sector OSH Effort

In a letter to ASSE through its Florida lobbyist, Keyna Cory, Florida Governor Charlie Crist commended ASSE for "having the foresight to bring this issue to the attention of the Legislature. Please be assured that the safety of Florida's public workers was considered in my decision to sign the bill." Governor Crist signed a bill into law on June 10 creating the State Public Task Force on Workplace Safety to develop findings and issue recommendations on innovative ways the state may effectively ensure that all departments and agencies and all county and municipal governments comply with specified standards of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, with the exception of standards pertaining to firefighters and fire departments.

ASSE’s Wisconsin Chapter has joined in the effort to toughen Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws

In a letter to Wisconsin legislators and as reflected in an ASSE press release, ASSE members are calling for (1) making a second conviction for impaired driving criminal offense punishable with mandatory jail time; (2) making a third offense a instead of the current fifth offense; and (3) requiring repeat and first-time offenders with extraordinarily high blood alcohol content (.16 or higher) to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in all vehicles registered in their names. Letter to Wisconsin Legislators (6.20.08)

ASSE commends Florida legislators for introducing bills to create task force to determine how to provide occupational safety and health coverage to Florida public sector workers.

ASSE Brochure provides support for Florida members

ASSE brochure provides support for Florida member effort to pass legislation establishing a task force to determine how Florida can best provide its state, county and municipal workers with occupational safety and health protections. ASSE brochure (3/08)

ASSE Metropolitan Chapter Opposes Bill in letter to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

ASSE’s Metropolitan Chapter in New York City wrote a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressing opposition to a bill to require regulation of environmental, health and radiological monitors. While not opposing the bill’s intent to avoid unnecessary fear of harm from threats, the bill, as written, would affect instruments ASSE members use on a daily basis. Metropolitan Chapter letter to Mayor Bloomberg (2.5.08) - link

ASSE Testifies for A10.4 Standard in Wisconsin

On October 29, Dave Heidorn, Manager of Gov’t Affairs and Policy, testified for ASSE at a Wisconsin Department of Commerce hearing on proposed rulemaking to implement Wisconsin's recent elevator licensing law. At issue was language included in the proposed rules that go against recently passed Wisconsin law requiring licensed individuals to install elevators. The proposed rules would exempt personnel and material hoists and home elevators from this requirement, as reflected in the language included below. The ANSI/ASSE A10.4 standard addressing personnel hoists would require trained installers consistent with current Wisconsin law. (10/29/07)

ASSE opposes Wisconsin's AB358 and LRB2803/1

If enacted, Wisconsin construction workers will be lifted in hoists instead of elevators, ignoring construction safety standards adopted by the American National Institute (ANSI) - Representative Terry Moulton (6/15/07)

ASSE Opposes Florida Bill Regarding Employers' Right to Set Gun Safety Rules

ASSE expressed opposition to a House bill in Florida that would make it illegal for employers to set safety rules barring guns and other legal items concealed in a car in a company parking lot. (4/17/07)

ASSE Region IV on Mold Assossor Qualifications

ASSE’s Region IV Takes a Stand on Mold Assessor Qualifications (4/06/07)

State Communications