With the COVID-19 pandemic there are new challenges for employers and risks to employees concerning safety in the workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupation Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) created guidelines and NJ Executive Order 192 provides further guidance. But, if you feel your employer is not protecting your health, you can file a complaint and contact an attorney.
What Your Employer Needs To Do
Governor Murphy signed an executive order outlining workplace health and safety standards, enforcement mechanisms, and training programs to keep employees safe during COVID-19. The guidance applies to private and public employers and requires employees and visitors to wear masks and to maintain six feet of distance when possible.
This guidance requests employers:
- Provide sanitizing materials to employees and visitors.
- Make sure employees practice proper hygiene.
- Clean and disinfect high touch areas.
- Conduct daily health screenings such as temperature check or health questionnaires.
- Exclude sick employees from the workplace.
- Follow applicable leave laws.
- Notify employees when there is a known exposure of COVID-19 in the workplace.
CDC guidance also requires that employers implement policies and practices for social distancing and improve building ventilation system.
How You Can Get Help
If you feel your employer is creating an unsafe workplace in light of COVID-19 you should take the following steps:
- Fill out an intake form on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development in New Jersey (NJDOL) website.
- File a complaint with OSHA.
- Refuse to work if the following conditions are met:
- You asked employer to get rid of the danger and they did not.
- You genuinely believe a risk of death or serious injury exists.
- A reasonable person would believe there is a real danger of death or serious injury.
- There is not enough time for regular enforcement channels such as an OSHA complaint.
- If confronted with an unsafe work condition, take the following steps:
- Ask your employer to fix the hazard or assign other work.
- Tell your employer you will not work until the hazard is fixed.
- Remain at worksite until your employer tells you to leave.
If you speak with your employer, and they do not make changes, you can contact an attorney to discuss next steps. Further, your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint. If your employer does retaliate, the New Jersey Employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can help you.