Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/31/1995 03:10 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.