March 15, 2022 Labor and Public Employees Committee, SB 423
Public Hearing Testimony of
Heidi Lane, Legal Director
Department of Labor
Labor and Public Employees Committee
March 15, 2022
Good Morning Senator Kushner, Representative Porter, Senator Sampson, Representative Arora and members of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with testimony regarding S.B. No. 423 AN ACT IMPROVING INDOOR AIR QUALITY IN PUBLIC SCHOOL CLASSROOMS. My name is Heidi Lane and I am the Legal Director of the Connecticut Department of Labor.
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) and our Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CONN-OSHA) fully support the need for healthy school environments. We recognize that air contaminants and poor environmental conditions in buildings have been directly correlated with specific health conditions and disease. Therefore, we support the intent of this bill.
There are approximately 1100-1200 public schools in Connecticut, for which CONN-OSHA has enforcement authority for safety and health regulations. However, the predicament that we find ourselves in is that there are currently no Federal OSHA Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) standards for CONN-OSHA to adopt and enforce. To clarify, Federal OSHA does have standards about ventilation and standards on some of the air contaminants that can be involved in IAQ problems, but it does not have comprehensive IAQ standards. This means that CONN-OSHA cannot use Federal grant money to implement the responsibilities proposed within this bill. Nor does CONN-OSHA have state funding for additional Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) professional staff with expertise in IAQ-related issues to meet the requirements proposed in SB 423.
Other provisions in SB 423 require further clarification. For instance, in the absence of Federal IAQ standards to enforce, how would CONN-OSHA respond to health hazard reports by the local and regional boards of education? Also, under what authority and how would CONN-OSHA ensure that local and regional boards of education take the appropriate corrective actions?
Again, CTDOL and CONN-OSHA support the need for the air inside offices, schools, and other workplaces to be safe and healthy, so we welcome a continued conversation to ensure that SB 423 can be properly implemented. Of note the Governor’s Recommended ARPA Plan includes $90 million in ARPA funding to the Department of Administrative Services to administer a grant program to support necessary air quality improvements at schools. Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony. I am available to answer any questions you may have.
Connecticut Department of Labor • www.ct.gov/dol
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