Yesterday, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 192, which provides mandatory health and safety standards to protect all of New Jersey’s workers during the pandemic. A copy of the EO can be found HERE and the related Press Release can be found HERE
This EO, which is effective on 11/5/20 at 6:00am, establishes workplace health and safety standards that will cover all New Jersey-based workers in both the private and public sectors. It also creates a collaborative enforcement mechanism to ensure complaints and reports of noncompliance are properly addressed and ensures workers are informed of their rights, and that employers are informed of their obligations.
Employers are encouraged to review the entire EO for full compliance, but should know that, at a minimum, these standards require that:
- All workers undergo a health screening prior to every shift (the EO lists examples of screening as “temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires”);
- Everyone present at the workplace maintain at least 6 feet of distance from one another to the maximum extent possible;
- All employees be made aware if there is known exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, consistent with confidentiality requirements of the ADA, other applicable laws, and EEOC guidance;
- Individuals, including employees, customers, visitors and others entering the workplace, must wear a face mask, with limited exceptions such as when employees are “situated at their workstations and are more than six feet from other individuals at the workplace, or when an individual is alone in a walled office”;
- Employers provide face masks to all employees, at the employer’s expense;
- All workers, customers, and visitors be provided with approved sanitizing materials, at the employer’s expense;
- All employees be provided breaks throughout the day to wash their hands (unless employees are provided gloves); and
- All high-touch areas are routinely cleaned and disinfected.
Employers should take note that to facilitate enforcement, the NJDOL will establish an online complaint-intake form for workers. The NJDOL and the NJDOH will also coordinate to create investigatory protocols, assist employers with compliance, and pursue enforcement actions when necessary. The NJDOL will also develop worksite notices and materials and create a training program in concert with Rutgers and members of the Protect NJ Workers Coalition to ensure workers are aware of their rights and employers are aware of their obligations.
What does all this mean for employers? In light of this EO, NJ employers should immediately revisit any return to work plans and ensure that all of the EO’s requirements are being met. In addition, employers should train their employees to ensure full compliance with the EO.