March 8, 2022 Labor and Public Employees Cmte, SB 313
Public Hearing Testimony of
Danté Bartolomeo, Commissioner
Department of Labor
Labor and Public Employees Committee
March 8, 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 Senate Bill 313, AN ACT CONCERNING ADOPTION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TASK FORCE TO STUDY CANCER RELIEF BENEFITS FOR FIREFIGHTERS. My name is Danté Bartolomeo and I am the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor.
The Connecticut Department of Labor’s (CTDOL’s) Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CONN-OSHA) enforces occupational safety and health regulations as they apply to state and municipal employees. The United States Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Federal OSHA) covers most private sector employers and their workers. Federal OSHA has determined that it does not have jurisdiction over volunteer fire departments or volunteer ambulance companies because of their affiliation with municipalities. Therefore, CONN-OSHA has traditionally enforced regulations for volunteer companies in the same manner as municipal and state entities. But in 2011, the Connecticut Supreme Court's decision in Mayfield v. Goshen Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., 301 Conn. 739 countered CONN-OSHA’s position leaving these volunteer workers without any OSHA protection. Therefore, I am pleased that the Task Force To Study Cancer Relief Benefits For Firefighters recommended clarifying CONN-OSHA’s jurisdiction over volunteer fire departments and volunteer ambulance companies and that it is being proposed in Sections 7, 8, and 9 of SB 313. This clarification is critical to the safety and health of all first responders because it will allow CONN-OSHA to protect our volunteer men and women as we do our career men and women.
As far as Section 1 of SB 313, further review is needed to determine if CONN-OSHA can implement the provisions within. Section 1(a) requires CONN-OSHA to adopt the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer and Section 1(b) requires the adoption of a practice requiring not less than two sets of turnout gear be provided to firefighters to ensure clean gear is worn while any contaminated gear is properly cleaned. We are in the process of consulting with Federal OSHA and will communicate the results of the consultation back to this committee as soon as possible. Please note that turnout gear is approximately $3000 per set and manufacturers only guarantee effectiveness for 10 years. Therefore, it is our experience that departments see the safety and health value of multiple sets, but especially volunteer departments find a second set to be cost prohibitive.
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
An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer