DES PLAINES, Ill. -- The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urged key Florida House leaders in letters sent this week to reject HB 1659, a bill that would require licensing of all safety, health, environmental and engineering professionals who work on mold analysis and remediation in Florida except industrial hygienists. Intended to set standards for mold analysis and remediation, the measure as written would reduce consumer access to needed mold professionals in Florida and provide a loophole for certified industrial hygienists to avoid consumer protection provisions that mold licensing would provide.
"It's disturbing that a licensing bill meant to protect Floridians from fraud and unqualified people would exempt one kind of practitioner," ASSE President Mark Hansen, PE, CSP, said. "Why would one group even want to exempt themselves from rules to protect consumers? You don't see one kind of lawyer or one medical specialty trying to get out of Florida's licensing laws. Most professionals understand the benefits to the people they serve."
Another problem area for consumers in the bill, Hansen noted, is that mold professional licensing would be under the Florida Department of Health, not the Department of Business and Professional Regulations where all other professions are licensed in Florida.
"Not being treated like other professionals would create an unfortunate conflict of interest. A mold professional representing a client could be in a position of having to negotiate with the department over remediation issues. If the Department of Health holds that professional's license, how can he or she independently represent a client?" Hansen said. "If it is important enough to license safety, health, environmental and engineering professionals in Florida they should be afforded the same consideration and benefits under law as other professionals licensed in Florida.
"Additionally, not enough is known about the actual threats posed by mold at this time to warrant this kind of legislative action," Hansen said. "And, if this bill goes forward, it would actually limit the number of qualified occupational safety, health, environmental and engineering professionals who now help Florida businesses and individuals address possible health threats from mold. This bill would also unfairly give certified industrial hygienists a government-sanctioned competitive advantage over a professional activity that other equally qualified -- and in some cases more qualified -- safety, health, environmental and engineering professionals now provide in Florida."
"When it comes to the broader mold issue, we hope that Florida moves with caution," Hansen added. "Any action should be taken only after the widest possible variety of medical, environmental, safety and engineering experts have been consulted. Given the cost that Florida taxpayers will be asked to pay in setting up another new licensing bureaucracy, not to mention requiring mold remediation and analysis standards to be written by the state, it seems best to make sure that any investment made will address actual health threats."
Additionally, given the many costly health and security threats that all states are being asked to address now, Hansen added, Florida officials should make certain that any investment it makes is truly necessary and addresses a real, measurable problem.
ASSE and its members, Hansen said, stand ready to work with the Florida legislature to address their constituents' concerns over the threat of mold.
Source: American Society of Safety Engineers