Article 38 – Health and Safety

Rutgers and the URA-AFT agree to establish jointly a committee chaired by a designee of Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety (REHS) to discuss mutual problems concerning employee safety and environmental health. Upon request in writing to meet by either party, the committee meeting must convene within twenty (20) business days unless mutually extended. Immediate safety problems should be reported to an appropriate supervisor or to REHS. The URA-AFT may appoint four (4) employees who shall not lose pay for the time spent at committee meetings. The URA-AFT may invite representatives from other unionized bargaining units to attend meetings to discuss mutual issues of concern.

On June 14, 2023, a coalition of Rutgers Unions which includes URA-AFT and the University agreed to the following:

  1. A General Statement

Rutgers and the Unions agree to the importance of a safe and healthy work environment and to strategically work together to improve health and safety. The University shall act in compliance with NJSA 34:6A-33 and shall furnish to each of their employees with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death, serious injury or physical harm to their employees.

Response to Health and Safety Issues

a. Employees shall report health and safety complaints to a chair, program director or dean and to the Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety (REHS). It shall be the responsibility of the department, program, or school leadership in conjunction with REHS to immediately take steps to investigate any employee complaint.

b. The University shall use best efforts to make an initial determination of whether the conditions forming the basis for the complaint pose a danger to the health and safety of unit members within 48 hours from the filing of the complaint. If conditions pose an imminent danger to the health and safety of employees, the University shall take immediate steps to provide employees with a healthy and safe work environment. Those steps may include relocations to another university building or facility, remote work, early dismissal, or any other practical remedy. The University’s initial determination shall be provided to the affected department(s), the employee(s) filing the complaint, and the Union(s) representing the employee(s), and shall include a description of the steps to be taken to remediate the unsafe or unhealthy condition.

c. If the Union or the employee disagrees with the determination of REHS, a grievance may be filed directly with OULR. CRU union collective negotiations agreements will provide for the expedited arbitration of health and safety grievances. For an imminent danger, an employee may request to be relocated while awaiting a finding by REHS, another unit of the University, PEOSH or an arbitrator appointed in accordance with the applicable collective negotiations agreement. The University will, if feasible, accommodate such a request and relocate the employee to a different university building or permit the employee to work remotely, if the employee’s duties can be performed remotely.

3. Right to Information, including Access by Union Retained Health and Safety Expert

a. Health and safety information requested by the Union shall be provided as soon as possible, but in no event later than seven business days from receipt of the request by the appropriate University office provided the requested information is available.

b. At its own expense, the Union shall have the right to retain an expert. The Union may request that their expert enter the premises of the University to conduct an inspection of a condition alleged to be unsafe or unhealthy. Such a request shall not be unreasonably denied. The expert must be appropriately credentialed and/or licensed to conduct an inspection of a condition alleged to be unsafe or unhealthy. The Union shall give REHS and RUPD as much advance notice as possible, but in no event less than 24 hours’ notice, that an expert will be conducting a health and safety inspection on University premises.

The inspection by the expert and any testing conducted by the expert shall not interfere with the operation of the University. The expert must act in conformity with all applicable University rules, regulations, and policies regarding access to facilities. If sampling is to be conducted, the expert must submit a sampling plan and conduct sampling in accordance with recognized industrial hygiene practices and established methods. Access to mechanical equipment and spaces will be authorized, coordinated, and provided by the appropriate University department(s) in coordination with the Union’s expert. No destructive testing is permitted without prior approval.

The expert and their company must provide their credentials and a certificate of insurance in compliance with the standards of same as set for by Procurement Services and the Office of Risk Management to the Office of Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety before entering any university premises. Any laboratories or third-party entities contracted by the expert must also provide the appropriate licenses, certifications, accreditations, and certificate of insurance as required of the expert.

c. In cases of complaints filed with University Facilities regarding temperatures are below or above the indoor work environment range recommended by PEOSHA – 68 degrees to 79 degrees – the University shall initiate corrective action. If the University is unable to provide a workplace within the temperature range recommended by PEOSHA, at the discretion of the employees’ department head or designee, employees may be permitted to work from an alternate University location or work remotely. However, if a determination is made that the workplace temperature is unsafe or unhealthy, the University will immediately initiate remedial action, including relocating employees or permitting remote work.

4. A Joint Health and Safety Committee

a. A Joint Health and Safety Committee consisting of one representative from each union shall meet at least quarterly with the Chief Operating Officer of the University or their designee and other University representatives authorized to address the agenda topics. So that the meeting shall be productive and appropriate personnel can be present, an agenda of topics to be discussed shall be submitted to the office of the Chief Operating Officer of the University at least five (5) business days in advance of the meeting date. The agenda shall minimally include discussion and status updates involving previously-made complaints that are unresolved.

b. Meetings may be called by the CRU outside of the regular quarterly meeting, with the consent of the University, to address specific agenda topics provided in advance.

5. Violence Prevention, including safe and secure parking facilities

a. The University shall establish committees as required by the Violence Prevention in Healthcare Facilities Act for its facility(s) which are expressly covered under the Act and its implementing regulations (N.J.S.A. 26:2H-5.17 et seq.; N.J.A.C. 8:43E-11.4).

b. The University, upon request, shall conduct safety walks to identify lighting deficiencies within parking facilities. Escorts may be requested, subject to availability of staff to accompany bargaining unit members to and from parking facilities when necessary to ensure their safety.

6. No Retaliation for Reporting Health and Safety Violations

Employees who report health and safety concerns, will not be subject to retaliation, harassment, intimidation or discrimination.

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