At a U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board public meeting on Dec. 14, the American Society of Safety Engineers urged officials to provide the same level of workplace safety protection for the estimated 8.5 million state and local government workers that other U.S. workers have under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The meeting centered around a wastewater plant explosion in Daytona Beach, Fla., which killed two workers. Workers at the Bethune Point Wastewater Plant were trying to remove a steel roof over a storage tank containing highly flammable methyl alcohol when, as reported, a cutting torch ignited the blast. The plant is operated by the City of Daytona Beach.

A key issue that arose at the hearing was the lack of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) coverage for state and municipal employees and whether Florida should adopt federal OSHA coverage to protect public employees from chemical hazards in the workplace.

"This public meeting should bring attention to a situation every Floridian should know and be deeply concerned about," said ASSE professional member and chemist Edwin Granberry Jr. "That Florida''s public employees do not enjoy the same occupational safety and health protections by law that the rest of us do."

Granberry later noted that this is a national issue, citing 8.5 million state and local government workers who don’t have the same protections as other American laborers.