2009 New Jersey Code
TITLE 34 - LABOR AND WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION
34:6A-39 - Variances
15. a. Any employer may apply to the commissioner for a temporary order granting a variance from a standard or any provision thereof promulgated under this act. A temporary order shall be granted only if the employer files an application with the commissioner which meets the requirements of this section and establishes in a hearing conducted pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) and P.L.1978, c.67 (C.52:14F-1 et seq.) that:
(1) he is unable to comply with the standard by its effective date because of the unavailability of professional or technical personnel or of materials and equipment needed to comply with the standard or because necessary construction or alteration of facilities cannot be completed by the effective date;
(2) he is taking all available steps to safeguard employees against the hazards covered by the standard; and
(3) he has an effective program for complying with the standard as quickly as practicable.
Any temporary order issued under this section shall prescribe the practices, means, methods, operations and processes which the employer shall adopt and use while the order is in effect and the order shall state in detail what the employer's program shall be for complying with the standard.
A temporary order may be granted only if notice to the employees is given; provided, however, that the commissioner may issue one interim order to be effective until a decision is made on the basis of the hearing. An employee representative or, where one does not exist, the affected employees, may appear at the hearing, with or without counsel, and submit testimony concerning the employer's application for the variance. No temporary order may be in effect for longer than the period needed by the employer to achieve compliance with the standard or one year, whichever is shorter, except that such an order may be renewed no more than twice so long as the requirements of this section are met and if an application for renewal is filed at least 90 days prior to the expiration date of the order. No interim renewal of an order may remain in effect longer than 180 days.
b. An application for temporary variance shall contain:
(1) a specification of the standard or portion thereof from which the employer seeks a variance;
(2) a representation by the employer, supported by representations from qualified persons who have firsthand knowledge of the facts represented, that he is unable to comply with the standard or portion thereof and a detailed statement of the reasons therefor;
(3) a statement of the steps he has taken and will take, with specific dates, to protect employees against the hazard covered by the standard;
(4) a statement of when he expects to be able to comply with the standard and what steps he has taken and what steps he will take, with dates specified, to comply with the standard;
(5) a certification that he has informed his employees of the application by giving a copy thereof to their employee representative where one exists, and posting a statement at the place where notices to employees are normally posted, giving a summary of the application and specifying where a copy may be examined. A description of the notification procedure used by the employer shall be contained in the certification. The information to the employees shall also inform them of their right to appear and be heard, as set forth in subsection a. of this section, at the hearing on the variance application; and
(6) a statement, if appropriate, that such a variance is necessary to permit an employer to participate in an experiment approved by him designed to demonstrate or validate new and improved techniques to safeguard the health or safety of workers.
c. Any affected employer may apply to the commissioner for a rule or order for a permanent variance from a standard promulgated under this act. An employee representative or, where one does not exist, the affected employees, shall be given notice of each such application and shall be afforded an opportunity to participate in a hearing pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C. 52:14B-1 et seq.) and P.L.1978, c.67 (C.52:14F-1 et seq.) on the merits of the application, with or without counsel, and to submit testimony. The commissioner shall issue such rule or order if he determines on the record, after an opportunity for an inspection, where appropriate, that the proponent of the variance has demonstrated, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the conditions, practices, means, methods, operations or processes used or proposed to be used by an employer will provide workplaces which are as safe and healthful as those which would prevail if he complied with the standard. The rule or order so issued shall prescribe the conditions the employer shall maintain and the practices, means, methods, operations and processes which he shall adopt and utilize to the extent they differ from any standard adopted pursuant to this act. Such a rule or order may be modified or revoked upon application by an employer, any employee, group of employees or employee representative, or by the commissioner on his own motion, in the manner prescribed for its issuance under this section at any time after six months from its issuance.
d. In determining whether to grant a variance from a health standard, the commissioner shall consult with the Commissioner of Health.
L.1983,c.516,s.15; amended 1995,c.186,s.9.
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