New York ‘HERO’ Act requires employers to establish airborne infectious disease safety protocols.
The New York HERO Act (S.1034-B/A.2681-B), a critical bill requiring businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent further spread of coronavirus and other airborne diseases, was signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Under the new law, employers are required to implement several workplace safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NY HERO Act, or the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, requires the Departments of Labor and Health to implement enforceable minimum standards for workplace safety. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Workers would also be given a direct role in monitoring and reporting violations through workplace health and safety committees and employees would be protected from retaliation for utilizing their rights under the law.
After the NY DOL issues its model standards, each New York employer must choose to either adopt the model standard that applies to its industry or establish its own airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan that equals or exceeds the model standard. Employers must also provide their airborne infectious disease prevention plan in writing to their employees, including their plan in their employee handbooks, and post their plan in a prominent location in the workplace.
New York employers should watch for the NY DOL to issue model airborne infectious disease prevention standards by June 4, 2021, and should prepare to issue and post airborne infectious disease prevention plans and update their handbooks accordingly. In the meantime, New York employers should continue to comply with all state and local safety protocols as employees return to work.