County Found Compliant in COVID-19 Employee Protections

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson will present the county budget in February.

After employees working at the Family and Community Development Office filed a complaint that prompted an inspection by the state, Atlantic County government has been exonerated of any failure to provide adequate protection of its employees against COVID-19.

In a letter to County Executive Dennis Levinson, state representatives of the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program confirmed the county was found to be in full compliance with current federal and state protocols and guidelines.

“Our determination is that the employer is satisfactorily complying with the Executive Order and with PEOSH injury and illness reporting requirements,” state health and environment official Glenn Pulliam in a Dec. 9 letter to the county. “As no violations were found during this inspection, this case will be considered closed at this time.”

Employees working for the Family and Community Development office located at 1333 Atlantic Ave. in Atlantic City, filed complaints alleging the county was not doing enough to protect them from contracting COVID-19.

The employees said the county was not offering temperature checks for everyone entering the building, not providing employees enough personal protective equipment, not sanitizing enough.

They said employees were not separated from visitors using protective barriers and that the air circulation in the multi-story building was poor. There are 236 employees working in the building.

Employees also said the county was not informing them when a fellow worker tested positive for the disease.

The state failed to find any violations or hazardous conditions as alleged in the complaint from a handful of employees, according to a county press release.

“Employees certainly have the right to voice their concerns, but in this case, their concerns were unsubstantiated and never brought to the attention of their supervisors, department head or county administrator,” Levinson said in the release.

The county was notified in a Nov. 17 letter from the New Jersey Department of Health of complaints with multiple alleged hazard violations.

The county responded within the required five working days with a thorough, detailed explanation that addressed each specific complaint and included copies of COVID-19 policies, training records, receipts for protective equipment purchases and documentation of injuries and illnesses for the past four years.

The state’s response included three suggestions outside the original complaints, most of which the county is already providing, the release stated.

The state recommended having written procedures for supervisors explaining protocols when employees call in with symptoms specified in a daily health assessment questionnaire.

State officials also recommended doing a checklist sheet on each floor indicating the date and time of cleaning high-touch areas, and establish communication with concerned employees by instituting a joint labor-management health and safety committee.

The county continues to update and modify its COVID-19 policies in accordance with the state.

“Atlantic County has worked as hard to protect our employees as we have to protect the public and our efforts have been successful,” Levinson said. “I hope this confirmation brings reassurance to all.”