Abolishment of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board by executive branch contrary to 2018 legislative action
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 25, 2018) – A recent gubernatorial executive order abolishing a statutory board that protects the health and safety of Kentucky workers must be rescinded, Attorney General Andy Beshear said today.
Beshear is calling on state lawmakers to demand Gov. Bevin rescind the executive order. These lawmakers rejected the abolishment of the board during the 2018 regular legislative session.
Created under Kentucky law, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is responsible for safety regulations that apply to workplaces from factories to public schools.
Under state statute, the board is comprised of 12 members who represent industry, labor, agriculture, and safety and health professions, and promulgates and adopts occupational safety and health regulations for Kentucky workers as an independent board.
Beshear said Gov. Bevin’s July 17 executive order abolishing the board removes the expertise of these members, who are nominated by their associations, and transfers their authority to a single individual, the secretary of labor, who is an at-will employee of the governor.
“It’s clear lawmakers do not support the governor’s move,” Beshear said. “Like me, they know the men and women who are most knowledgeable of the safety and health of our workers must, by law, make up the board, not an ‘at-will’ employee who answers to the governor and not our workers.”
Beshear said under the executive order, the secretary of the Labor Cabinet now has the sole authority to promulgate and abolish regulations affecting the safety and health of Kentucky workers.
The board abolishment, Beshear said, further contradicts and conflicts with the Kentucky State Plan that lawmakers adopted and the U.S. Department of Labor approved.
“This plan specifically includes the creation of the Standards Board,” Beshear said.
Beshear is urging each lawmaker to “contact the governor and demand that he rescind” the order because “abolishing the Standards Board eviscerates the ability of the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Program to keep Kentucky workers safe and healthy.”
Beshear said he hopes legislative influence will correct the situation, and the board will be reinstated.