Sunday, September 1, 2013

Public Sector Employees, Texas, and Confined Space - Part 3

I contact Governor Perry's office and stumped them with my question "Is Governor Bush's 1995 Executive Order still in effect?"

They would get back with me...and they did.  Apparently it was put into Texas Law in the .  I was then told to contact    and they would be able to answer my question more specifically.  I missed his call back, so here I am without a definitive answer.

However, armed with this new information, or at least the path to move forward on. I went back to Google and searched for "Texas state employees compliance with OSHA."

This brought me to the webpage of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).  Why my original searches did not show this page, well, is frustrating.  So based on what Governor Perry's office told me, public employee health and safety regulations, at least for us Texas State employees, is under risk, which is under workman's comp.

You can see that I was getting close with my poking around as I had already looked at hazcom.  So what does that tiny print say?
  • The state agency in Texas with the greatest authority in the area of workplace safety is the Texas Department of Insurance, the Division of Workers' Compensation of which has enforcement responsibility for the Texas Workers' Compensation Act
  • The main workplace safety resource information for Texas is on the TDI Web site. 
  • The Workers' Compensation Division's OSHCON Department provides workplace safety and health consultations to Texas employers, including free OSHA compliance assistance.
So what does the Texas Department of Insurance, the Division of Workers' Compensation Chapter 401 of the Texas Labor Code say about having to comply with health and safety regulations or policy for public sector employees?

Let's look at definitions first.  If you recall, the OSHA law excludes public sector employees because state and local entities are not defined as an "employer."  Here is what Texas Chapter 401 says:
"Employer" means, unless otherwise specified, a person who makes a contract of hire, employs one or more employees, and has workers' compensation insurance coverage.  The term includes a governmental entity that self-insures, either individually or collectively. we are getting somewhere.  Since I am not a lawyer, I can't say definitively who is, or who is not covered by that.  What I am going to do is look at it with the same eyes that a public works manager - who is not a lawyer - would use. When I read "The term includes a governmental entity that self-insures, either individually or collectively," I understand that to mean both state and local public entities that employee folks just like me.

I am going to ask if my understanding is correct when I call the TWC guy back this week.  That guy, I have been told, is a lawyer and he works for the TWC.

Getting close...

Next Post: Public Sector Employees, Texas, and Confined Space - Part 4



  1. This is quite a cliff hanger.

  2. I am still looking into it. Phone tag and work made me put this on hold. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Place...I'll get an answer one way or the other.