As discussed in my earlier posts, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO” Act) in May 2021. Now, in accordance with that law, the NYS Departments of Labor and Health have developed an 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. These documents are all available on the DOL’s HERO Act webpage.
Employers now have until August 5, 2021 to either (1) adopt the DOL’s model plan applicable to the employer’s business; or (2) establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard’s minimum requirements. Employers will then have to post and distribute the adopted plan to its employees within 30 days thereafter.
Employees who elect to use the template provided by the DOL must still fill in blanks within the document in order to finalize it. In addition, while the plans are currently only available in English, the DOL website indicates they will be available in Spanish “in the coming days”. Employers should continue to check the HERO Act webpage for templates in additional languages and other updates.
These prevention plans will go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as “a serious risk of harm to the public health.” Despite the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no such designation in place. Thus, while a plan must be adopted now by employers, nothing in the plan must be implemented at this time.