"As we have recently seen with the water contamination in our state, without regulation and oversight, you are playing Russian roulette with the health and safety of workers. Do we want to wait for another accident, or do we take the necessary action to protect all state workers?" Morgan asked.
UE Local 170 represents nearly 1,100 state workers at DHHR, Division of Highways, Department of Environmental Protection, Disability Determination Services and other agencies.
Smith and her co-sponsors introduced three bills including the one regarding state employees and OSHA. That bill, Beaton said, would help restore "the review of accident claims put forth by employees working at state facilities such as Sharpe Hospital."
Beaton said no action was taken on any of the 130 claims Sharpe employees submitted to the Division of Labor last year.
Smith's second bill would add 50 new jobs at Sharpe under the DHHR budget.
"A major complaint of employees at Sharpe has been that the hospital is understaffed," Beaton said. "This has led to mandatory overtime for employees, many of whom believe the long work hours are not in the best interest of employees or patients.
"In addition, the shortage of staff has often led the DHHR to contract out work paying contracted workers a higher rate of pay that employees with years of service at Sharpe for doing the same job."
Smith's third bill calls for "the immediate removal of any patient at state mental health facilities to the regional jail should such patient commit a violent act on an employee or other patient that would be classified as a misdemeanor or felony outside the hospital," Beaton said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.