NYS HERO ACT: Protecting New York Workers from Airborne Diseases
July 14, 2021 / By UNY Communications
Editor’s Note: On Feb. 15, 2022, the NYS Commissioner of Health announced the continuation of the NYS HERO Act through March 17, 2022. This classifies COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health." Click here to read more about the latest extension of the NYS HERO Act.
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.
Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, has developed a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Employers can choose to adopt the applicable policy template/plan provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard’s minimum requirements.
The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect 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.
As of July 6, 2021, the standard and model plans have been made available in English and will be available in Spanish on the DOL website in the coming days. Employers are required to adopt the airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. and post the same in a visible and prominent location within each worksite, by August 5, 2021.
Aug. 5, 2021 - Employers are required adopt a model prevention plan and conduct a “verbal review” of the policy, employee rights and the overall prevention plan.
Sept. 4, 2021 - Statute: Employers must provide copy of the adopted plan to all employees in their primary language within 30 days of adoption, or by September 4, 2021.
Click here for the NY HERO Act Standard provisions, exposure prevention plan, exposure controls, and anti-retaliation.
Click here for the NY HERO Act "General Model Standard" template.
This applies to all employers with worksites in New York State.
We need to use this Prevention Plan when: an “airborne infectious agent or disease” designated by the Commissioner of Health as highly contagious communicable disease that presents serious risk of harm to public health. Until that designation is activated by the Department of Health Commissioner, keep your adopted Plan filed in a safe place.