The New Jersey Public Employees Occupation Safety and Health Program has once again found Atlantic County government to be in full compliance with federal and state protocols and guidance to protect its employees from COVID-19.
In response to complaints filed recently, the state failed to find any violations or hazardous conditions present at the Shoreview Building in Northfield. It previously found the County Office Building in Atlantic City to be in full compliance in response to allegations there.
“No agency or organization is without its faults, but Atlantic County government has been extremely conscientious in complying with the federal and state requirements to protect both our customers and our staff,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “We have made several modifications to our policies and procedures throughout this pandemic to ensure compliance.”
In a Dec. 1 letter to Levinson, Program Manager Glenn Pulliam said an on-site inspection was not warranted and he requested the county perform a self-assessment of alleged hazardous conditions, make corrections if necessary, and provide PEOSH with additional information within five days
Alleged health hazards cited in the letter included: not notifying staff of any COVID-19 exposures, not cleaning the building after an employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning products making employees sick, no daily health checks such as temperature taking, gloves not being issued to staff, and public entering the building at 101. S. Shore Road.
County Administrator Gerald DelRosso’s Dec, 4 response addressed all concerns and provided the requested information to PEOSH.
DelRosso said the county cleaned the affected employees’ private offices and areas where they worked. He said there were two employees of the Division of Intergenerational Services who were exposed to the disease. One who tested positive after travel never returned to the building following isolation, and a second employee who had family members with the disease returned to work after sufficient quarantine period.
“So, at no point, from the county’s understanding, have we had any employee positive for COVID-19 in the Shoreview building,” DelRosso said.
Although the building is cleaned regularly, no recent heavy cleaning has been done due to positive COVID-19 employees, he said. The last deep cleaning was done on May 29 and Nov. 20. Products used for regular cleaning are approved for use by the EPA.
“There is a deep cleaning scheduled for all county buildings between December and the end of January, including 101 S. Shore Road,” DelRosso said.
According to the correspondence, no employee has been denied supplies, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the building, disposable wipes are available at copy machine stations, and gloves, face masks, etc. are available for employees who need them.
“At this point in time, no staff person has asked for gloves and been denied,” DelRosso said.
According to Levinson, any concerns from employees about workplace health and safety are taken seriously and are properly reviewed. But unless they are brought to the attention of supervisors, the county cannot address them.
In each of the two recent cases, the county first learned of the allegations in a letter from the state after complaints were filed, Levinson said.
“For some reason certain employees choose not to share their concerns with their supervisors or administration and instead go directly to PEOSH,” he added.
“We fully recognize the added stress and strain this pandemic has placed on many of our essential employees and we want them to be assured that their workplace environment is safe,” Levinson said. “These reports of full compliance from the state should help give them some peace of mind.”
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