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(c) 2021 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Pandemic Preparedness Experts

Pandemic Preparedness Experts
COVID Safe Workplaces

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

NJ Receives 1,181 COVID Complaints

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) received 1,181 complaints from workers and customers in the first four weeks of Gov. Murphy’s executive order expanding workplace protections during COVID-19. 

Of those complaints, 237 cases have been investigated and resolved by the NJDOL, with 159 of those cases closed after employers documented their efforts to comply with the executive order, such as providing photographs, purchase orders, or receipts for safety equipment. The remaining 78 cases were referred to appropriate state agencies. 

There were 456 cases of alleged violations under investigation by the NJDOL, and 488 cases pending assignment to an investigator. Though approximately 60 percent of all complaints have been submitted anonymously, which can complicate the investigation process, the Department continues to review and address all incoming complaints and conduct investigations to the maximum extent possible. 

“Our mission is to ensure that businesses remaining open during COVID-19 do so responsibly, and this executive order allows us to do just that – keep public- and private-sector workplaces safe for employees and customers alike,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “The overwhelming majority of businesses are complying with CDC and state guidelines; those who have been reported have come into compliance once notified by our investigators to do so.” 

The NJDOL, in collaboration with workforce training partners, has established compliance and safety training for employers and employees. To date, five outreach events have been held to educate the public on the executive order. Forty-four worker trainers have been provided with 528 total hours of training, and those trainers have delivered 2,230 training hours to 1,115 workers. 

“I am proud of the work my team is doing to protect New Jersey workers and thankful to Gov. Murphy for providing us with the tools we need to do so,” the Commissioner added. 

Executive Order No. 192 went into effect on November 5, mandating that private and public sector employers, including state and local government entities, adhere to certain health and safety standards in an effort to protect employees and visitors at in-person workplaces. The protocols include requirements regarding mask-wearing, physical distancing, the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitization materials, proper hand hygiene and sanitizing of high-touch areas, daily health checks, applicable leave time for sick employees, and prompt notification of Covid-19 exposure at the workplace. 

“With the introduction of a vaccine, New Jersey is now one step closer to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our state,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “It is imperative that businesses continue to impose the COVID-19 mitigation protocols put in place to protect the health of their workers and the community.” 

In response to the executive order, the NJDOL launched a website with information regarding the new health and safety requirements, as well as an intake form through which workers or their representatives can report employers who are alleged to be non-compliant. 

New Jersey is one of 14 states across the nation to implement comprehensive statewide standards for worker protections related to Covid-19 but is the only state to expand its jurisdiction to the private sector to protect workers during the pandemic. 

Both public- and private-sector workers are covered under the executive order, which is being administered by NJDOL and its sister agency, the Department of Health (DOH). The Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) Act continues to cover the public sector, and any enforcement actions for the public sector would continue to be enforced by the NJDOL. 

Local boards of health should refer to reports related to Executive Order No. 192 to the NJDOL at covid.safety@dol.nj.gov.   

For more information on worker protections and employer obligations under Executive Order No. 192, please visit: https://nj.gov/labor/covidsafety   

To report a suspected violation regarding the Covid-19 protections as outlined in the executive order, please complete and submit this form: https://lwdwebpt.dol.state.nj.us/global

Workers interested in COVID-19 workplace health and safety training or in seeking counsel on their workplace rights can visit this site: https://njsafe.squarespace.com/

Employers interested in training or consultation on workplace health and safety can visit this site: https://www.nj.gov/labor/lsse/employer/OSH_Training_Program.html

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation

Twitter: jongelman

LinkedIn: JonGelman

LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group

Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters