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New Jersey bill aimed at protecting workers from heat


Photo: travelview/iStockphoto

Trenton, NJ — New Jersey’s Senate Labor Committee has advanced a bill that would require the state to establish a heat stress standard by June 1, 2025.

The legislation – S. 2422, sponsored by Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union) – would require employers to develop, implement and maintain an effective heat-related injury and illness prevention plan for workers within 30 days of the legislation’s effective date. 

The plan also should include:

  • Paid rest breaks
  • Access to cool potable water
  • Shaded or climate-controlled areas for workers to cool down
  • Emergency response for any employee who suffers an injury from heat exposure
  • A schedule that rotates workers throughout a hot day or moves work tasks to earlier in the day
  • Acclimatizing workers to high heat conditions

Employers who don’t comply would be subject to fines ranging from $500 to $5,000 and jail time from 10 to 100 days, the bill states.

Gerardo Cortez, a UPS driver and shop steward for Teamsters Local 177, which represents drivers and mechanics, testified during a May 6 committee hearing that the legislation would provide valuable protections for workers. 

“I’m as experienced as anybody in the heat,” he told legislators. “I served in the Marine Corps. Did two tours in Iraq. I’ve worked in Arizona, Texas and California. It doesn’t get up to 130 degrees in New Jersey, but working in the humidity is a different monster.”

The New Jersey Farm Bureau voiced its opposition during the hearing, claiming that the state’s farmers have been managing the issue for decades.

“The issue of heat stress in agriculture is not new in as much as it is already part of most farm safety best practice recommendations,” said Ashley Kerr, a research associate for the farm bureau. “Things like rearranging work schedules, providing cool drinking water, added rest breaks and so on are common practices.”

The bill has been referred to the state’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

A companion bill, A. 3521, was introduced in the General Assembly and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee in February. 

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