Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/31/1995 03:10 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 263 - CERTIFICATION TO HAZARDOUS WASTE WORKERS                            
                                                                              
 Number 020                                                                    
                                                                               
 GEORGE DOZIER, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT TO REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT,             
 ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE, stated that HB 263 requires the                     
 Department of Labor (DOL) to review certification programs                    
 certifying workers handling hazardous waste at waste sites.  He               
 said the programs themselves would not be administered by the                 
 DOL, rather by employers, labor unions, universities, vocational              
 schools, et cetera.  HB 236 requires the contractor to supply the             
 DOL with a plan for the certification of workers performing                   
 hazardous waste operations, prior to the start of work.  The DOL              
 must approve the plan, and the employer must certify that the                 
 workers are knowledgeable and competent to handle the hazardous               
 waste in a safe manner.                                                       
                                                                               
 MR. DOZIER continued that HB 236 establishes civil and criminal               
 penalties for failure to meet the requirements.  In regards to                
 Section 1, concerning the promulgation of regulations governing               
 the certification, it establishes an immediate effective date.                
 The remainder of the bill has an effective date of January 1,                 
 1996.  The bill sponsor feels that due to the potential hazards               
 inherent with handling dangerous materials, public safety, as                 
 well as employee safety, would be enhanced by enacting the bill               
 into law.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 075                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT added that there was also another provision that                
 once the employer submits their plan to DOL, and if it is found               
 to be unacceptable, DOL will work with that employer to bring the             
 plan up to established guidelines.  He added that there was an                
 error in Section 2, of the bill, regarding AS 46.03.310(b).  He               
 said this should be AS 46.03.319, and that would be a conceptual              
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 096                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON made a motion to adopt Amendment 1.                  
 Number 102                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked him to withdraw the motion because they did               
 not have a quorum.  However, the committee will address that at               
 some point in the future.  He said when you look at the amount of             
 hazardous waste in the state, several of those sites have been                
 identified that will be included on the super fund list.  They                
 need to do everything they can to protect people working in this              
 field.  He believes that the majority of the work would commence              
 this year.  He said they had received many letters in support of              
 HB 236 and also have the backing from DOL.                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT noted the fiscal note indicate start up costs of                
 $140,000 for FY96.  However, the main thrust of the bill is                   
 implemented in January, 1996.  Therefore, they would be dealing               
 with the fiscal year versus the calendar year.   He asked if some             
 of those costs could be built into the second half of the fiscal              
 year at the time the rest of the bill becomes effective.                      
                                                                               
 Number 131                                                                    
                                                                               
 ED FLANAGAN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, stated              
 that Chairman Kott's suggestion might be possible.  He commended              
 the committee for introducing the legislation, as it addresses a              
 serious need in the state.  The DOL did everything they could to              
 not include the $140,000 in general funds; however, they need to              
 put people on before they can run the program.  He explained that             
 because this program is similar to the Asbestos Certification                 
 Program, they have a real feel for the costs.  That program is                
 funded from program receipts.  He said that DOL would work with               
 staff, the subcommittee, or during the interim, to get the costs              
 into the same fiscal year where the receipts will be there during             
 that fiscal year and they won't have problems with OMB.                       
                                                                               
 MR. FLANAGAN reiterated that HB 263 addresses a real need.  In                
 reference to Chairman Kott's comment about upcoming work, he said             
 that there is a $240 million contract called the Total                        
 Environmental Restoration Contract (TERC), that is currently in               
 the process of being reviewed through the RFP process by the                  
 Corps of Engineers.  He said there are literally billions of                  
 dollars worth of this type of work needing to be done.  As the                
 law currently stands, there are both federal and state OSHA                   
 requirements for forty hours of training.  However, there is no               
 means of enforcement or checking where and how the training was               
 provided.  If there were to be an accident in which a worker was              
 hurt as a result of poor training, there would be grounds to                  
 investigate, but that would be after the fact.  This training                 
 program would insure that the worker is aware of the hazards of               
 the job, what it would do to them if they don't watch out for                 
 their own safety and to be aware if the employer directs things               
 improperly.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. FLANAGAN pointed out that with the Asbestos Program, that                 
 training must be done in state.  This allows the department to do             
 quality control.  As is currently stands, hazardous waste                     
 training can be given anywhere; with HB 163 the hazardous waste               
 certification would require written competency.  This program                 
 would not only help the workers but would also protect the                    
 communities surrounding the areas involved.  The Asbestos                     
 Certification, Hazardous Painting Certification and Explosive                 
 Handlers Certifications are all Certificates of Fitness that the              
 DOL is able to enforce under Occupational Safety and Health                   
 (OSHA), Title 18, the Health and Safety Statute of Alaska.  He                
 said that Title 46 would be somewhat confusing as it is primarily             
 a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) statute.  He had             
 discussed this with the DEC, not wanting to get into a "turf                  
 war."  The DEC said they did not oppose changing this into a                  
 separate chapter in Title 18.  Regarding the fiscal note, they                
 definitely want to look at creative ways of removing the                      
 obstacle.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 204                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked how certification would be                 
 billed.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 208                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. FLANAGAN replied that a fee would be charged to the                       
 individual being certified.  Currently, to receive a state                    
 Asbestos Abatement License, the individual pays $100, for two                 
 years.                                                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS acknowledged that they would receive                   
 license fees.                                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. FLANAGAN replied yes.  There are also fees for the programs               
 to be approved.  These are union training programs, and the                   
 Mining and Petroleum Training Service at the University of                    
 Alaska.  There are private firms, such as the Alaska Health                   
 Project, and all pay $250 per year.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 223                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were further questions for Mr.                   
 Flanagan.  Hearing none, he stated that the committee would work              
 with DOL on changing this from Title 46 to Title 18, also in                  
 reducing the fiscal note down to an acceptable level.                         
                                                                               
 Number 231                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. FLANAGAN said they were at their disposal and would have the              
 Industrial Hygiene Section, within DOL, work with staff.                      
                                                                               
 Number 233                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON commented that the fiscal note was a                 
 problem only if people at the Finance Committee level doesn't                 
 take a moment to see that this can't be revenue neutral until the             
 program is in place.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 240                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were questions or comments on HB
 263.  Hearing none, he closed public testimony and stated he                  
 would defer further hearings on HB 263 until they had worked with             
 DOL on the fiscal note, and with the drafting attorney on                     
 changing the Title.                                                           

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