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Norcross Bill To Expand Health And Safety Protections To Employees Of NJS Interstate Authorities Approved By Senate Transportation Committee

Would Bring Interstate Authorities Under Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) that would better protect employees of New Jersey’s interstate authorities by requiring those entities to comply with the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Act was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.

“All public entities operating exclusively in New Jersey are required to comply with occupational safety and health regulations. However, the state’s bi-state and multi-state agencies are currently exempt,” said Senator Norcross. “It must be a priority for us to ensure that all public employees are protected from health and safety hazards. This bill goes a long way to do that. Further, it ensures that if, in fact, unsafe conditions exist in the workplace, employees will have an opportunity to bring the conditions to the attention of the state and to have them corrected without concern for punishment by their employer.”

Specifically, the bill (S-2389) would amend the “New Jersey Public Employees’ Occupational Safety and Health Act” to provide that the definition of “employer” includes any interstate authority that utilizes its own police officers or firefighters. The bill also adds a definition of “interstate authority” for the purposes of the New Jersey Public Employees’ Occupations Safety and Health Act, defining interstate authority as a public bi-state or multi-state authority, commission, or corporation, created by compact or agreement between the state of New Jersey and another state.

The measure also authorizes the Governor to enter into supplemental compacts or agreements on behalf of New Jersey with the states of New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania as necessary to amend the compacts formed with those states which govern interstate authorities to provide that they shall be subject to occupational safety and health regulations. The authorities include:

• Port Authority of New York and New Jersey;

• Delaware River Port Authority;

• Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission;

• Delaware River and Bay Authority; and

• the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

The bill also amends the compact which formed the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to provide that those employees serving the New Jersey portion of the Palisades Interstate Park are subject to the provisions of the “New Jersey Public Employees’ Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

“This is a common sense measure that will ensure that employees are not subject to preventable health and safety risks in the workplace, from requiring proper training and information about potential hazards to protecting from reprisal employees who raise safety and health concerns with an employer,” added Senator Norcross.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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