NYS Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety
Releases Preliminary Report on H1N1 in the Workplace
September 23, 2009

The New York State Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, chaired by Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens), today released a preliminary report on H1N1 in the workplace, 'On The Front Lines: Protecting New Yorkers In High Risk Occupations From Exposure To H1N1.' Click here to view the full report.

The report analyzes the risks to workers of exposure to H1N1 in a variety of workplace settings and occupations, details the protective steps which government health and safety agencies identify as being essential to limiting the risk of exposure in such workplaces, evaluates the extent to which employers are adopting these protective actions, and recommends what additional actions employers must take to ensure the health and safety of their employees during the upcoming flu season.

The report highlights some specific concerns, including: (1) a disagreement concerning the use of respirators by workers when interacting with potential H1N1 infected individuals between the NYC Dept of Health, the NYS Dept of Health and the State Education Dept on the one hand, and on the other hand the CDC and the NYS Dept of Labor's Public Employee Safety & Health Bureau; (2) a competition of sorts among different groups of healthcare workers to be "first in line" to get any new H1N1 vaccine, and a lack of clear policy guidelines from the state or city resolving this "priority of issuance" question; (3) loose H1N1 screening procedures at juvenile and adult detention/correctional facilities; (4) an insufficient number of school nurses, leaving other personnel to address H1N1 situations in some schools; and (5) lack of any definitive plan from the MTA on H1N1 prevention in the workplace.

"For most adults, their highest risk of contracting H1N1 will be in their workplace, so government, employers and employees themselves must do everything they can to defeat H1N1 on the job, particularly in higher-risk occupations," said Assemblyman Lancman. "Government needs to do a better job of coordinating and disseminating clear, consistent guidance, with worker safety being the highest consideration. Employers need to analyze their workplaces to match appropriate H1N1 prevention strategies to their particular workplace setting. And employees need to educate themselves about how to limit H1N1 exposure while on the job."