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New Yorkers, Be a Hero in the Workplace with the NY HERO Act

In May 2021, the State of New York signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or NY HERO Act, to protect workers against exposure to airborne infectious diseases during an outbreak. One of the main components of the Act is the development and implementation of an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, or NY HERO Act Workplace Safety Plan when a disease is designated as an airborne infectious disease by the Commissioner of Health.

On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. As a result, employers must implement Workplace Safety Plans, which include 3 main components:

  • a written Plan
  • a verbal review of the Plan with employees
  • the creation of a joint labor-management workplace safety committee

The Plan must contain the following elements, as outlined in the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Standard:

  • Exposure controls, which include health screening, face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene facilities, and cleaning and disinfection. The controls must be appropriate for the types and levels of exposure risk.
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that is required or recommended for the protection of the employee. The Plan must describe how PPE will be provided, used, and maintained by the employer.
  • Documentation of any revisions.

The Plan must be made available to all employees during all work shifts, in a language that employees can understand.

The verbal review must include notification of the Plan elements and additional employer policies and can be provided virtually or in-person in a well-ventilated area. Section 2 of the HERO Act will take place on November 1, 2021.

This section requires employers who employ more than 10 employees to create a workplace safety committee. The purpose of the committee is to review revisions to the Plan and discuss workplace safety and health policies. Additional guidance will be available on the NY State Department of Labor’s website before November 1st.

Anti-retaliation is also outlined in the Standard and states that employers cannot discriminate or threaten employees for reporting violations to the Plan, reporting an airborne infectious disease concern to their employer or any government entity, and refusing to work if there is an unreasonable risk of exposure to an airborne infectious disease due to existing work conditions.

For more information about the NY HERO Act, and to implement a Workplace Safety Plan and training into your workplace, contact us at [email protected].

This blog was written by Rae Moore, Quality, Research, and Training Specialist.

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