On May 5, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) into law. The law mandates new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during any future airborne infectious disease outbreak.
The NY HERO Act requires New York’s private sector employers to adopt an airborne infectious disease plan.
On July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health (“NYSDOH”), developed and provided a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease The materials issued by the NYSDOL are available on its website.
The HERO Act provides private employers with 30 days from July 6, 2021 (the date on which the NYSDOL published its model plans) to adopt a plan or develop a plan that meets or exceeds the requirements of the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard.
Private employers then have 30 days from the adoption of an airborne infectious disease plan to communicate the applicable plan to employees.
Although private employers must adopt an airborne infectious disease plan, the plans only take effect if and when the New York State Commissioner of Health designates an airborne infectious disease “as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” There is no such current designation by the Commissioner of Health.
The Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard requires private employers to conduct a verbal review of the plan and any accompanying policies with employees. The verbal review should be provided in a manner most suitable for the prevention of an airborne infectious disease (i.e. in-person in a well-ventilated environment with appropriate face masks or personal protective equipment; via audio or video conference technology).
Amendments to the Act allow for the creation of one joint labor-management workplace safety committee per employer worksite and limits the amount of paid time that must be provided by employers to workplace safety committee members for meetings and trainings.
If You Need Assistance
As you consider your plans to meet the obligations of The NY HERO Act, the attorneys at Monaco Cooper Lamme & Carr, PLLC are here to answer any questions related to these issues.