On May 5, 2021, New York State enacted the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”) which requires employers to (i) implement an infectious disease exposure prevention plan that meets minimum standards established by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), and (ii) allow employees to form workplace safety committee. The HERO Act directs the NYSDOL, in consultation with the Department of Health, to create industry-specific model safety standards to be implemented by employers by June 4, 2021. However, employers have been left with little guidance due to the lack of new standards issued by NYSDOL and a rapid lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across most industries.
Employers now know when to expect the new workplace standards. On June 11, 2021, New York amended the HERO Act to give the NYSDOL until July 5, 2021 to publish industry-specific model safety protocols. Employers then have 30 days after the NYSDOL publication to adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. Furthermore, employers have 60 days following the NYSDOL publication to provide the plan to their employees by publishing it in their employee handbook and by posting the plan in a visible location at the worksite.
The HERO Act and the amendments impose significant obligations on employers to maintain workplace protections against infectious diseases. As previously reported, the model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard is expected to address workplace safety topics such as health screenings, testing, face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), social distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection protocol and engineering controls (e.g., air flow, exhaust ventilation, etc.). The model standard will also require designation of supervisory employees to oversee and ensure compliance with the standards.
Delaney Vero, PLLC is here to assist employers to navigate through such legal requirements to comply with the law and will provide updated guidance once the model standards are published on July 5, 2021. If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Delaney Vero at firstname.lastname@example.org or Koya Choi at email@example.com or 518-917-3105.