Employers Must Adopt and Distribute Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plans

Under the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO Act”), employers must now adopt and distribute – but not implement – workplace plans to protect employees during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.

Last week, the New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, issued its Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (“Standard”) and Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (“Model Plan”).

The DOL also issued Model Plans for the following specific industries: agriculture, construction, delivery services, domestic workers, emergency response, food services, manufacturing and industry, personal services, private education, private transportation, and retail.

The Standards and Model Plans are available here: NY HERO Act | Department of Labor

Employers now have the following deadlines:

  • August 5, 2021:  Employers must adopt a written prevention plan, using either a Model Plan or an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the Standard’s minimum requirements.  Employers must adopt their plan within thirty (30) days of when the DOL issued its Model Plans.
  • September 3, 2021:  Employers must distribute their plan to their employees, post the plan “in a visible and prominent location within each worksite,” and add the plan to their handbook, if any.  Employers must take these steps within thirty (30) days after adopting a plan, within fifteen (15) days after reopening after a period of closure due to airborne infectious disease, and to new employees upon hire.  Employers must provide their plan in English and in the employee’s primary language if available in the model plans.  To date, the DOL has issued the Model Plans in English and announced its intent to issue the Model Plans in Spanish.
  • November 1, 2021:  Employers with at least ten (10) employees must allow employees to establish a joint employer-employee workplace safety committee authorized to, among other things, raise workplace health and safety issues and evaluate applicable policies.

Employers must implement their plans if and when the New York State Commissioner of Health designates an airborne infectious disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.  The Commissioner of Health has not issued such designation for COVID-19.

Our previous blog post regarding the HERO Act is available here: NYS Law Requires Employers to Adopt Workplace Safety Plans to Prevent Spread of Airborne Infectious Diseases (mb-llp.com)

If you have any questions or concerns about the NY HERO Act, please contact Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com or Sheryl Galler at sgaller@mb-llp.com.

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