Serving the High Plains

Safety law amendment approved

The Environmental Improvement Board, the rule-making body of the New Mexico Environment Department, on Friday approved an amendment to workplace safety law requiring employers to report COVID-19 cases among employees within four hours of being notified of the positive case.

The amendment codifies the reporting requirement that had been in place since an emergency amendment was adopted by the Secretary of the Environment Department in August and readopted in early December.

The amendment passed by the board will replace the emergency rule when the board delivers the final rule to the state records administrator.

The four-hour reporting requirement greatly decreased the response time of the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau’s Rapid Response team, allowing it to act quicker to ensure workplace safety by providing immediate guidance and support to employers.

“While the arrival of the vaccine is great news, we are not out of the woods yet,” NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney stated in a news release. “This amendment allows us to continue our critical work to ensure New Mexico workplaces are as safe as possible.”

Violations of the reporting requirement may result in a NMED enforcement action, including civil penalties and legal action.