ATLANTIC CITY — A complaint alleging hazardous working conditions at the Atlantic County Office building, after a lightning strike damaged the building’s air conditioning system, was rejected by the state’s New Jersey Public Employees Occupation Safety and Health (PEOSH) Program, a county spokesperson said Monday.
The complaint, filed July 26, claimed the building temperatures exceeded 80 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a workplace hazard. The building is located at 1333 Atlantic Ave. next to the Atlantic City Free Public Library.
Some human services workers who attended last week’s Atlantic County Board of Commissioners meeting to ask for support in being awarded back hazard pay for working through the pandemic, also said they had filed complaints about mold and other issues related to the loss of air conditioning.
But PEOSH found the county acted properly in addressing the outage and its aftermath, the county said.
Employees who worked in the building were sent home, and the building remained closed for four work days while the county installed an emergency replacement chiller, officials said.
The building’s temperatures, air flow and air quality were repeatedly tested prior to employees returning to work to ensure the new chiller was meeting all requirements, according to the county.
“This most recent complaint is particularly baffling because the building was closed and employees were at home,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson.
Employees in the Atlantic County Office building and the Shoreview Building in Northfield have filed four PEOSH complaints alleging unsafe conditions in the two locations, and for the fourth time the state has found no proof of workplace hazards.
“Once again, the state has closed the case with no finding of wrongdoing, fully exonerating the county,” Levinson said. “We remain in full compliance with state requirements to protect the health and safety of our workforce.”
Between December 2020 and March 2021, the county received numerous complaints about conditions at the county office building in Atlantic City and the Shoreview Building in Northfield. Each time the state failed to find any violations or hazardous conditions at either location, Levinson said.
Early complaints alleged workers were not adequately protected against spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but the county provided proof to the state of proper cleaning, masking, testing and social distancing practices.
By law, each complaint requires a written response within 15 days with a detailed explanation and extensive documentation.
“It’s a time-consuming process and that time could be better spent assisting our residents,” Levinson said. “The employees who continue to file these complaints know they are unsubstantiated. Fortunately, their actions do not reflect the vast majority of our workforce.”
REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post