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Minnesota lawmakers on Wednesday introduced two bills that would address workplace safety issues for warehouse and meatpacking industry workers.
H.B. 36 addresses quotas for those working in warehouses for merchandise and mail-order houses, requiring employers to provide any work expectations, such as work-speed requirements, in writing to employees and that restroom breaks shall be considered when crafting such quotas.
The bill states that if a particular work site or employer is found to have an employee incidence rate 30% or more higher than that year’s average incidence rate for similar nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in that industry, the state would open an investigation of violations.
H.B. 23 addresses work safety for those working in the meatpacking industry, calling on the state labor commissioner to appoint a meatpacking industry worker rights coordinator in the Department of Labor and Industry and provide the coordinator with necessary office space, furniture, equipment, supplies and assistance.
The bill also states that “a meat-processing worker has a right to refuse to work under conditions that the worker reasonably believes would expose the worker, other workers, or the public… (to) unreasonable risk of illness or injury, or exposure to illness or injury, including the infectious disease known as COVID-19.”
The bill also prohibits employers from retaliating against such employees, who would be eligible for unemployment.