Metropolis employees slam Well being Division for unsafe return-to-work insurance policies


About 1,000 New York Metropolis Well being Division workers have signed a letter blasting the company’s return-to-office pointers, accusing it of failing to speak inner COVID-19 instances and never following a “science-informed” strategy, together with masking and social distancing.

“It’s an enormous contradiction as a result of we’re the Well being Division,” one company employee advised The Put up.

“We, of all companies, are falling wanting implementing an evidence-based and science-informed return-to-office course of.”

“We’re not simply whiny individuals who wish to sit at residence in sweatpants on our laptops,” a second DOH worker mentioned.

“We’re all so dedicated and devoted to public well being, and so hardworking. However we wish scientific proof explaining why it’s protected to return to the workplace.”

Their eight-page Oct. 1 letter to DOH Commissioner Dave Chokshi says the company’s Queens headquarters lacks onsite COVID-19 testing and ample provides of hand cleaning soap and sanitizer.

“We’ve repeatedly discovered hand sanitizing stations empty on the Eleventh flooring and a scarcity of hand cleaning soap accessible at Eleventh-floor kitchen sinks, regardless of having positioned a number of service requests,” the fed-up public well being employees wrote within the letter, which was obtained by The Put up.

New York City Department of Health
One New York Metropolis Well being Division worker mentioned they’re “not simply whiny individuals who wish to sit at residence in sweatpants on our laptops.”
Alamy Inventory Photograph

As well as, not all workers are adhering to masks guidelines — and as a substitute of getting supervisors implement them, employees are requested to “police one another,” which creates uncomfortable conditions, in line with the letter.

The open cubicle setting at Lengthy Island Metropolis headquarters additionally doesn’t enable for social distancing as a result of desks are nearer than six ft aside, a 3rd DOH employee advised The Put up.

The letter requests company officers “often present details about our precise dangers on the worksite, primarily based on accessible proof,” together with the variety of workers contaminated with COVID-19 and the “date of prognosis at completely different DOHMH worksites.”

“Be clear with precise particulars on airflow, anticipated transmission fee in our office settings, the rationale for eradicating the bodily distancing requirement, and why it’s thought of protected to have us eat at our desks,” it says.

The exasperated company employees additionally wish to know why the commissioner didn’t query the mayor’s choice to power all 300,000 metropolis employees again to their desks full-time beginning Sept. 13 if it isn’t protected.

Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Chokshi mentioned the insurance policies have been set by the administration and the Division of Citywide Administrative Providers.
Michael Appleton

They observe that Chokshi advised them throughout an inner city corridor assembly in August that productiveness hadn’t suffered from distant work through the pandemic — regardless of the mayor saying that municipal employees don’t get as a lot accomplished at residence.

The Well being Division has led the town’s response to the pandemic that’s sickened over 1 million New Yorkers and killed practically 35,000 residents.

The staff argue they’ve really been much less productive since returning to the workplace final month as a result of they’re nonetheless doing digital conferences because of convention room capacities — and company computer systems lack microphones and cameras, and web connectivity is spotty.

Chokshi responded to some considerations within the letter, however mentioned the insurance policies have been set by the administration and the Division of Citywide Administrative Providers. Company reps didn’t instantly remark.

“Workers really feel disrespected and diminished, and deserve the dignity of transparency and direct solutions and will not be getting them from company leaders,” one of many DOH employees advised The Put up.

In the meantime, workers from different metropolis companies have expressed comparable considerations concerning the de Blasio administration’s rush to return to the workplace.

Democratic mayoral candidate and outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has mentioned he prefers a hybrid mannequin with some municipal employees telecommuting and others coming into the workplace.

Different metropolis officers together with Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer are giving workers extra versatile schedules.


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