NY HERO Act now in effect
September 10, 2021 / By UNY Communications
Editor's Note: On Jan. 15, 2022, the NYS Hero Act enacted classifying COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” It has been extended through March 17, 2022. Click here to read more.
On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) into law. The law mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak. Click here to read more about this law.
On Monday, September 6, 2021, Governor Hochul announced that the New York Department of Labor designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease.” This designation means that the NY HERO Act plan, which all employers were required to adopt and distribute to employees by September 4, 2021, is now effective through Dec. 15, 2021. Employers now have to follow the requirements of their plans, as well as conduct mandatory training for employees on the plan and the law. Upper New York churches are responsible for the mandatory training for their staff.
When designation is made by the Commissioner of Health each employer shall immediately review the worksite’s exposure prevention plan and update the plan, if necessary, to ensure that it incorporates current information, guidance, and mandatory requirements issued by federal, state, or local governments related to the infectious agent of concern. The employer should finalize and promptly activate the worksite exposure prevention plan and provide the verbal review
Verbal Review/Training - Model Plan(s):
When this plan is activated, all personnel will receive training which will cover all elements of this plan and the following topics:
- The infectious agent and the disease(s) it can cause;
- The signs and symptoms of the disease;
- How the disease can be spread;
- An explanation of this Exposure Prevention Plan;
- The activities and locations at our worksite that may involve exposure to the infectious agent;
- The use and limitations of exposure controls
- A review of the standard, including employee rights provided under Labor Law, Section 218-B.”
The training will be:
- Provided at no cost to employees and take place during working hours. If training during normal work hours is not possible, employees will be compensated for the training time (with pay or time off);
- Appropriate in content and vocabulary to your educational level, literacy, and preferred language; and
- Verbally provided in person or through telephonic, electronic, or other means.”
Verbal Review/Training Examples
- Pre-recorded training session
- Zoom/video meeting
- Pre-shift meeting
- In-person meeting
Employers must provide each employee with a copy of the exposure prevention plan in English or in the language identified as the primary language of such employees (there is a Spanish version on the NYS website). They should also post a copy of the exposure prevention plan in a visible and prominent location at the worksite. They should also ensure that a copy of the exposure prevention plan is accessible to employees during all work shifts.
While the designation is in effect. employers should:
o Assign enforcement responsibilities and ensure that enforcement takes place;
o Monitor and maintain exposure controls;
o Follow updates to guidance;
o Designate one or more supervisory employees to enforce compliance with the plan. *Must be a supervisory employee
The NYS Department of Labor released FAQs on the HERO Act, which can be found here.