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EDWARD A MOHLER
ERNEST R GRECCO
PRIMO R PADELETTI
O,arles D Bates. Ir.
Terry L Bowman
bhn E. Gates
blrn H KnIQMt
lames 0 Lautar
C lames t..oWthers
C W McNemat
Brian G. Malloy
Raymond 0 Metz
Glenard Middlettxt. Sr.
whn O Conna
Kern O Conrqt
Camell "Sonny" Reed
Willard L Richardson
MARYLAND STATE & D.C. AFL-CI4
AFFiUATED WITH NATIONAL AFLC1O
7 School Street Annapolis, Maryland 21401 Balto. 269-1940 D.C. 261-1400
Fax (4101 280-2956
Maryland State and District of Columbia, AFL-CIO
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board
Smoking Bans in Places of Employment
December 9, 1993
My name is Margareta A. Crampton here to represent the
Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO. Our position
is not tell any person or worker to smoke or not to smoke.
That is not the question with this proposed Regulation.
Proposals to ban smoking in the workplace are also
increasing. Unions are faced with legislation or unilaterally
imposed employer policies that forbid smoking on the job and
infringe on the rights of workers who smoke.
Unions have a legal responsibility to represent the
interests of all their members--smokers and non-smokers. The
AFL-CIO believes that issues related to smoking on the job can
best be worked out voluntarily in individual workplaces
between labor and management in a manner that protects the
interests and rights of all workers and not by legislative
' `Solidarity Works
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The AFL-CIO is committed to improving the working
conditions and health of all our members. We urge our
affiliated unions to continue their efforts to reduce
workplace hazards and to provide voluntary assistance and
education to workers who smoke as part of ongoing
comprehensive programs to improve the health of union members.
The Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO is
pleased that this Advisory Board is turning its attention to
the Indoor Air Environment. However, after reviewing this
proposed regulation, we have concluded that it does not
adequately provide the protection working men and women need
in the indoor work environment.
These objections are based on the following:
If the purpose of the proposed regulation is to protect
the safety and health of workers in the indoor environment it
misses 98 per cent of the problem and should be reconsidered
to address the problem in a broader, more comprehensive
manner. The average worker spends more than 90 per cent of
his or her time indoors. Given this statistic, it is vital to
look at the studies conducted by the National Institute of
Occupational Safety and Health which reported that only 2% to
4% of indoor air quality problems could be traced to tobacco
Too many workers spend the better part of the workday
exposed to potentially dangerous constituents, such as
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formaldehyde-laden particle board, insulation foams and toxic
glues. More importantly, NIOSH has found that nearly half the
cases of sick building syndrome are caused by inadequately or
improperly maintained ventilation systems. These findings
argue for the need for a comprehensive "building systems"
approach. Such an approach, which the national AFL-CIO is
urging federal OSHA to adopt, would not rely on the nearly
impossible task of assessing each possible contaminant in the
workplace but focus on assuring workers that the overall
environment is healthy.
Let me take one moment to further clarify this point.
Exposure standards now exist for many of the chemicals found
in the air in offices, including many of the constituent
elements of tobacco smoke. But in offices, the levels workers
are exposed to seldom reach the standards. Instead, because
of bad ventilation systems, workers experienced long term, low
level exposures, or exposures to combinations of chemicals
whose effects are not clearly understood. Rather than try to
set a zero exposure standard for each contaminant, a systems
approach outlines contaminant control methods and mandates
properly designed and maintained ventilation systems which
broadly lower risk to workers.
Restricting a regulation to only tobacco smoke ignores
the fact that many of our workers are dangerously exposed to
a range of hazards and provides no relief to thousands of
Maryland working men and women.
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This raises two final points for the commission to
At the initiative of the AFL-CIO, federal OSHA is
preparing a standard on indoor air quality. Last year the
agency accepted more than 1,200 responses to its request for
information on the indoor air quality issue. Many of these
submissions were from labor organizations and supported a
ventilation systems approach rather than a constituent-by-
It is unclear what solution to indoor air quality federal
OSHA will propose, but it could preempt a state OSHA standard
on indoor air quality. Action by Maryland MOSH on a lesser
standard would be premature and create a confusing--possibly
even conflicting--approach to the problem. We believe this
duplication should be avoided.
Further, we ask you to consider where MOSH has the
resources to enforce the regulation as proposed. It would
substitute the agency for the enforcement arms of all the
counties and municipalities which currently enforce smoking
restrictions. We believe this would fatally overburden the
agency and discontinue safety inspections which would leave
workers in even more dangerous situations, not to mention
those members of the public.
We encourage this board to make a real difference for the
health and safety of Maryland workers and to undertake a more
comprehensive effort to address the entire scope of the indoor
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air quality problems while respecting the rights of workers.
Finally, regarding smoking policy, this proposed
regulation is an intrusion into the collective bargaining
process. Office policies are best set when workers and
managers agree on them. This proposed regulation is
inflexible and denies the fact that different worksites
require different regulations.