New York legislators voted on extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the Covid-19 pandemic known as The New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or NY HERO Act. The bill requires all employers to adopt an airborne infectious disease prevention plan. The plan must be implemented when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.”
On September 6th, the Commissioner of Health was directed to declare Covid-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” This means that New York employers are now required, by law, to put their airborne infectious disease prevention plans in effect.
The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has released a new FAQ on the NY HERO Act, which provides additional information on what’s required of employers. DOL’s website also includes information about the new airborne infectious disease prevention standard, model airborne infectious disease prevention plan, and industry-specific templates for employers to utilize to comply with the new law.
Note that the notification of an alleged violation made by an employee may be made verbally or in writing, including electronic communications. To the extent that communications between the employer and employee regarding a potential risk of exposure are in writing, they shall be maintained by the employer for two years after the conclusion of the designation of a high risk disease from the Commissioner of Health, or two years after the conclusion of the Governor’s emergency declaration of a high risk disease. Employers should include contact information in their plans to report violations of the plan during regular business hours and for weekends/other non-regular business hours when employees may be working.