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NJ implements new coronavirus safety protocols for workers

This executive order takes effect on Nov. 5 and requires daily health checks for all workers prior to their shift, as well as stating that individuals at a worksite must maintain at least a 6-foot distance between one another, among other things. – Photo by Wikimedia

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed an executive order yesterday to establish mandatory health and safety standards for both public and private sector in-person workers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a press release.

“Since the start of the pandemic, New Jersey workers across all sectors have risen to the challenges imposed by COVID-19. Yet, the federal government has failed to provide all workers the proper standards and protections that they deserve,” Murphy said, according to the release. “Today’s executive order closes that gap to help ensure the health and safety of our workforce during this unprecedented time.”

The order, which takes effect on Nov. 5, requires individuals at a worksite to maintain at least a 6-foot distance between one another “to the maximum extent possible,” according to the release. Employees and visitors both must wear masks at the worksite. 

Employers must also provide sanitation materials at no cost to workers or visitors and ensure that employees have sufficient time to practice hand hygiene, according to the release. All high-touch surfaces must be disinfected based on advice from the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The order also mandates daily health checks for all workers prior to their shift in accordance with CDC guidelines, which could include temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists or health questionnaires, according to the release. Sick employees must be excluded from the workplace, and any COVID-19 exposures must be disclosed to workers. 

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) will work alongside the Department of Health to review complaints regarding COVID-19 protocols in the workplace. The NJDOL will create a form on its website to take complaints and establish an investigation process to review any claims.

The NJDOL will provide materials to workers regarding their rights as well as information for business owners about their obligations. It will also be creating and distributing safety and compliance training, according to the release. 

“With today’s action, New Jersey becomes the only state to leverage its public sector-only jurisdiction to protect workers in the private sector from COVID-19. We now have the essential tools and resources we need to ensure businesses are operating safely, and our economy is moving forward,” said NJDOL Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, according to the release. “By protecting New Jerseyans in the workplace, we are lessening the health risks to families and communities. As more people return to work, the high standards we have set today will be critical in maintaining our public health.” 

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