Legislation State programs

Kentucky House moves to eliminate OSH Standards Board

Kentucky Labor cabinet logo

Photo: Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Frankfort, KY — A measure to abolish the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board and give the 13-member body’s authority to the state’s secretary of labor – who chairs the board – was unanimously approved by the state House on Feb. 12.

Representatives voted 91-0 in favor of the bill (HB 314), which now moves to the Kentucky Senate. The Kentucky OSH Standards Board is tasked with adopting, amending or revoking occupational safety and health rules, regulations and standards.

Rep. James Tipton (R), a sponsor of the bill, said the change would better align Kentucky OSH rules and regulations with federal OSHA, giving the secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet the ability to remove any of the state’s occupational safety and health rules that differ from a federal one.

“This is a critical piece of legislation to both employers and employees in major industries like aluminum, construction and telecom that are responsible for thousands of jobs,” Tipton told SurfKY News. “Currently, Kentucky employers are subject to state and federal standards and it creates confusion and unnecessary double layers.”

The American Industrial Hygiene Association is concerned that if the bill passes, it would reduce transparency and public comment on safety and health regulations.

“We need the public to contact your Kentucky state senators and urge them to oppose passage of HB 314 or similar legislation in the Senate,” Mark Ames, AIHA director of government relations, said in a Feb. 13 press release. “The safety of Kentucky workers across the board is at risk. Critical worker safety issues must be decided by a balanced panel of experts, not by a single political appointee.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky’s rate of recordable nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses dropped to 3.4 per 100 full-time employees in 2016 from 3.7 in 2015 – its lowest rate on record. Additionally, work-related fatalities dropped to 92 in 2016 from 99 in 2015.

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