We were joined this week by Debbie Berkowitz, former Program Director of Worker Health and Safety of the National Employment Law Project and Marina Jabsky, Industrial Hygienist for NYCOSH. Debbie discussed what the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on vaccine mandates and testing may include. The new ETS, which will cover both private and public sector, may be out as early as next week. Here in NJ, the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH), has 30 days to adopt it. Questions remain on whether employers will be responsible for paying for COVID-19 testing in the absence of an employee getting vaccinated. Marina walked us through the requirements of the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) that was signed into law on May 5, 2021. The law mandates new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard. New York is the only state in the country to have such a standard. Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor, in consultation with the NYS Department of Health developed a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Employers can choose to adopt the applicable [...]
October 12: Building Equity and Resilience in Vulnerable Communities – Community Engagement Across New Jersey
Dr. Rick Marlink, Director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute, shared details of their initiatives in Newark, New Brunswick, and Trenton on advancing health equity and an equitable recovery for women and minority owned small and micro businesses throughout the pandemic. The program's manager, Arpita Jindani described the efforts necessary to stop the domino effect that takes place when small locally owned businesses close. Their program assists with COVID-19 training, testing, and pop-up vaccination sites in addition to creating local Resilience Networks that provide small businesses connections with local support groups for financial and material support. Former Asbury Park Mayor, Myra Campbell, continued the conversation on the importance of meeting the community members where they are to lower barriers of participation. Myra shared C.U.R.E.D.'s (Communities United Reaction to Eliminating Disparities) initiatives in Asbury Park and Neptune. C.U.R.E.D. was able to bring testing, education, and vaccination clinics directly to community hubs such as local churches. Partner groups in the effort include the New Jersey Black Women Physicians Association. You can find the slides from the presentation here. For more information on the Rutgers Global Health Institute and their Equitable Recovery Program, please use the links below. More than 20 people attended this webinar. Equitable Recovery for New Jersey's Small Businesses | Rutgers Global Health Institute New Brunswick Store Owner [...]
This episode we hosted industrial hygienist Allen Barkkume, MS, who informed us about the importance of good building ventilation to help mitigate COVID-19 transmission. Allen explained the hierarchy of controls and the top priority for proper building ventilation is to bring in fresh outdoor air followed by air exhaust, dilution and finally filtration in order of importance. You can find the slides from the presentation here. For more information on building ventilation, please use the links from the last slide in the presentation. More than 40 people attended this webinar.
This episode we hosted OSHA's Region 2 Steve Kaplan, Deputy Regional Administrator, Laura Kenny, Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support, and Warren Simpson, Assistant Regional Administrator for Enforcement Programs who gave us insight into the updated COVID-19 guidelines for all workers and details about the Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Workers. Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support Warren Simpson informed us, "over 50% of all COVID related citations in the U.S came from Region 2 of OSHA". You can find the slides from the presentation here. For more information on OHSA, ETS and their enforcement efforts, please use the following links from their webpage. More than 40 people attended this webinar. ETS (regulatory text) - https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets Summary Data for Federal and State Programs – Enforcement - https://www.osha.gov/enforcement/covid-19-data
After a 5-month hiatus, the COVID-19 Weekly Update returned on September 21 in response to the rise of the Delta variant, the emergence of breakthrough cases, and the increasing number of cases in children which have set us back into uncertain waters as we enter the autumn season when people will be spending more time indoors. This week received an update from Dr. Meg Fisher from the NJ Department of Health about the latest science on COVID-19, including transmissibility and vaccine efficacy as well as an update on where things are currently in NJ in terms of cases, vaccines, and possible next steps such as booster shots. Here is Dr. Fisher's presentation. More than 82 people attended this webinar.
Over 8 million shots have been administered in NJ with approximately 3.5 million people having received the two doses needed to provide maximum protection. Eligibility has recently been expanded to include everyone above the age of 16, and the Pfizer vaccine is now approved to be administered to children aged 12-15. Supply has vastly improved as demand for the vaccine has diminished. The state has further ramped up its outreach efforts in order to reach the goal to vaccinate 4.7 million adults. We were joined by Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, MD, NJDOH Medical Advisor, Professional Advisory Committee Chair, and public health physician with board certification in internal, pulmonary and preventive (occupational/environmental) medicine. Dr. Bresnitz is former NJ State Epidemiologist and Deputy Commissioner of Health. Dr. Bresnitz spoke to the latest CDC recommendations and provided information for the Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines. Dr. David J. Adinaro, MD, M.Eng., FACEP, joined the New Jersey Department of Health as Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services in June 2020. He also chairs the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force that is coordinating the planning for this state-wide effort. Dr. Adinaro looked back at NJ’s initial goals in addressing the pandemic and gave updates on where we are [...]
This week, in our last regularly scheduled episode, we observed Workers’ Memorial Day and the deadly toll that COVID19 took on workers this past year. We heard from co-workers, community leaders and labor leaders who paid tribute to fallen workers and their families. We were joined by: Yadhira Alvarez, Chief of Staff for the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United, SEIU Lou Kimmel, Executive Director, New Labor Tiffany Beavers-Busby, RN in the medical intensive care unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ and a Vice President of HPAE Local 5058 Our guests spoke to the horrible toll COVID19 took on their communities and workplaces, the stunning failure of our federal government in responding to the crisis at the behest of hospital lobbyists seeking to cut their losses and accountability, the importance of belonging to a labor union in times of crisis for workers, and why we must continue to march and observe Worker Memorial Day until we can go an entire year without a single worker death. Tiffany shared this important perspective with us: "The inescapable fact is that our employers needlessly exposed Frontline Healthcare Workers to the COVID-19 virus, lagged in informing [...]
Today’s webinar explored how COVID-19 has worsened a pre-existing housing crisis in New Jersey, what protections exist for New Jerseyans struggling to pay rent, and what policies we need to prevent post-pandemic evictions and guarantee secure, affordable housing for all. Eric Seymour, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, shared context on the relationship between income loss throughout the pandemic -- particularly severe for those employed in the service sector -- and inability to make rental payments. Recent research showed that New Jersey tenants indicated the highest rate nationwide of “no confidence” in their ability to pay monthly rent -- a result of both COVID-19 and the long-term impact of recession-era foreclosures and prohibitively high housing costs. Prof. Seymour’s research in other states indicates that New Jersey is at risk of a wave of evictions following the end of the current eviction moratorium, which could be exacerbated by the entry of more large, private equity-backed landlords into the state housing market. See Prof. Seymour’s presentation for further information informed by his research, including a set of graphs and visuals illustrating the relationship between COVID-19, race and class, and recent developments in housing insecurity. Staci [...]
This week's webinar focused on how COVID-19 has impacted undocumented workers, the risks that undocumented workers face when they organize against unsafe conditions, and how workers are fighting back despite threats of retaliation. More than 40 people attended this webinar. Vineeta Kapahi, Policy Analyst with NJ Policy Perspective, offered context for why COVID-19 has hit undocumented New Jerseyans particularly hard. Undocumented workers make up a large portion of the workforce in industries deemed essential during the pandemic, and many have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, particularly in sectors already governed by poor or poorly enforced labor protections such as farmwork and warehousing. High rates of workplace exposure, as well as lack of access to health insurance and paid sick leave, have caused disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates in undocumented communities. Undocumented workers are also disproportionately represented in sectors that have experienced the most job losses due to COVID-19, yet they have been excluded from many forms of relief, including CARES Act payments. Immigration enforcement has also exacerbated the dangers of COVID-19 for many undocumented people. All four of New Jersey’s detention facilities have had COVID-19 outbreaks, meaning detention by ICE can be a death sentence. Enforcement also allows for employer [...]
We were joined by guests from the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers SMLR and the New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund to learn about how paid time off intersects with community health and well-being - and worker health and safety - and where and when the NJ policies can be applied. Debra Lancaster from CWW summarized the body of research on the benefits of paid family and sick leave, including addressing gender and racial disparities as well as improving health outcomes and work-family balance. Yarrow Willman-Cole from NJ Citizen Action gave an overview of the overlapping web of job protections available at the national and state level and income replacement programs available at just the state level. They outlined current state and federal laws that make most employees in New Jersey eligible for Temporary Disability and Family Leave insurance (TDI/FLI), and discussed the positive impact these protections have for everyone, but especially for marginalized communities and women highlighting among other points: Longer leaves among new mothers is associated with fewer depressive symptoms When new fathers take paid leave, they are more likely to be engaged caretakers Lower odds of infants being re-hospitalized when paid leave is available to parents Decreased participation [...]