On May 5, 2021, New York State enacted the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”) which requires private employers to:
1. Implement an infectious disease exposure prevention plan that meets minimum standards established by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), and
2. Allow employees to form a workplace safety committee.
The HERO Act directed 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, the HERO Act was amended to give the NYSDOL until July 5, 2021, to publish industry-specific model safety protocols. Employers will have thirty (30) days after the NYSDOL publication to adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. In addition, employers will have sixty (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 do impose significant obligations on employers to maintain workplace protections against infectious diseases. As previously shared, 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.
In closing, Integra HR, LLC is continuing to closely monitor the release of the model standards and will update our guidance as additional information becomes available. If you have questions or need further support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-518-917-3361.
Disclaimer: Integra HR, LLC does not practice any type of law, provide legal counsel, or perform any other form of legal services. Like other HR consulting firms, we refer clients to legal counsel for legal services.