NYS Issues New Workplace Safety Protocols
On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the NY HERO Act into law. The HERO Act requires employers to adopt health and safety protocols 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 the new law, the NYS Department of Labor, 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 plans must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the Commissioner of Health, presenting a serious risk of harm to public health.
What do employers need to do now?
HERO ACT PLAN TEMPLATE
Plan templates and resources are available from the NYS Department of Labor. Employers should go to the Department of Labor website on the HERO Act and select the model plan for their industry, download, and complete the plan. The plan template needs to be completed by August 5, 2021.
Once the plan template has been completed, employers must post it and notify employees of it by September 4, 2021. There is no active designation of an airborne infectious disease at the moment, and so once the plan is adopted and posted, no additional action is necessary.
The plan template is not something that needs to be included in an organization’s employee handbook, however it is a best practice to include a reference to the HERO Act. HR One has developed summary policy language that can be added to an employee handbook.
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