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Substitute Senate Bill No. 1146

Public Act No. 03-272

AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ROOM TEMPERATURES IN NURSING HOME FACILITIES, WHISTLEBLOWING BY HEALTH CARE FACILITY EMPLOYEES AND REPORTS BY EMPLOYERS REGARDING HEALTH EMERGENCIES, DISEASES OR HAZARDS IN A WORKPLACE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2003) The Department of Public Health shall adopt recommendations for minimum and maximum temperatures for areas within nursing homes and rest homes. Such recommendations may be based upon standards set by national public or private entities after research into appropriate temperature settings to ensure the health and safety of the residents of such homes. The department shall make such recommendations available to nursing homes and rest homes and to the public, and shall post such recommendations on the Department of Public Health's web site on the Internet.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2003) (a) As used in this section: (1) "Discriminate" and "discriminatory treatment" with regard to an employee of a health care facility includes discharge, demotion, suspension, or any other detrimental changes in terms or conditions of employment, or the threat of any such actions; and (2) "health care facility" has the same meaning as in section 19a-630 of the general statutes.

(b) No health care facility shall discriminate or retaliate in any manner against an employee of such facility because the employee submitted a complaint or initiated or cooperated in an investigation by or proceeding before a governmental entity relating to the care or services by, or the conditions in, such facility.

(c) A health care facility that violates subsection (b) of this section shall reinstate the employee and reimburse the employee for lost wages, lost work benefits, and any reasonable legal costs incurred by the employee in pursuing the employee's rights under this section.

(d) The provisions and remedies under this section are not exclusive and are in addition to any other provisions and remedies in any section of the general statutes or which are available under common law.

Sec. 3. Section 31-400 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(a) In the event of recognition of a health emergency, suggested disease cluster or imminent hazard, the Commissioner of Public Health and the Labor Commissioner, upon their own initiative or upon notice from an occupational health clinic, [or] auxiliary occupational health clinic or employer, may initiate site-specific hazard evaluations, industry-wide epidemiologic and industrial hygiene studies or other surveillance activities. Such investigatory studies or surveillance shall be conducted in full cooperation with local public health officials.

(b) Based on the results of such hazard evaluations, studies or surveillance activities, the Commissioner of Public Health and the Labor Commissioner shall recommend to an employer measures intended to reduce the risk of death, disability, injury or harm from such health emergency, disease cluster or imminent hazard.

(c) In the event such recommendations are made, the employer shall immediately notify all employees at potential risk from such health emergency, disease cluster or imminent hazard. Notification shall also be sent to the Commissioner of Public Health and the Labor Commissioner, and shall include available information about: (1) The nature of the health emergency, disease cluster or imminent hazard; (2) the level at which exposure is determined to be hazardous, if known; (3) the potential acute and chronic effects of exposure at hazardous levels; (4) the symptoms of such effects; (5) appropriate emergency treatment; (6) the precautions being taken by the employer; and (7) precautions that should be taken by employees.

(d) No notification made pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be admissible as evidence of the facts therein stated in any action at law or in any action under the Workers' Compensation Act against the employer making such notification. Any employer who fails to make a notification required by this section, or who knowingly supplies false information, may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars for each such violation.

Approved July 9, 2003