Senate Approves Sweeney Measure Requiring Background Checks At Chemical And Industrial Plants

TRENTON – The Senate today unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Senator Steve Sweeney which would require independent contractors who currently work at or are being considered for employment at a chemical plant or industrial site in New Jersey to submit to a background check.

“The world events since September 11 have shown that we can never be too careful or take too many precautions when working to secure buildings and facilities from terroristic activities,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “We cannot afford to compromise the health and safety of our residents by giving unauthorized people access to possibly dangerous facilities. If qualified contractors want to work at these sites, they must show that they can be trusted.”

Senator Sweeney’s measure, S-462/1289, would require employers to cover the cost of the background checks for both current and prospective employees working at chemical and industrial plants in New Jersey. Current employees would be required to submit to the check as a condition of their continued security clearance. Applicants would also be subject to other identity checks such as credit investigations and social security number verification.

Under the bill, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be charged with the task of proposing a set of rules for the checks, consistent with provisions of the Toxic Catastrophe Protection Act.

The initial measure, which called for background checks for prospective employees, was approved by the full Senate on May 18. The bill was conditionally vetoed by Governor Corzine to include the provision requiring background checks for current employees.

“The added checks will help tighten the State’s safety act, and ensure that workers have only good intentions when working with hazardous materials,” Senator Sweeney said.

This measure now heads to the Assembly for approval.

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