Governor announces Covid-19 designated as airborne infectious disease under HERO Act
Employers need to implement workplace safety plans
Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the commissioner of health has designated Covid-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans in the event of an airborne infectious disease, helping to prevent workplace infections.
The NY HERO Act mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the law, all employers are required to adopt a workplace safety plan, and implement it for all airborne infectious diseases designated by the New York State Department of Health. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.
“While we continue to increase our vaccination numbers, the fight against the Delta variant is not over, and we have to do everything we can to protect our workers,” Governor Hochul said. “This designation will ensure protections are in place to keep our workers safe and support our efforts to combat the virus and promote health and safety.”
The HERO Act’s purpose is to ensure that businesses are prepared with protocols and resources to protect their employees and the public from the spread of airborne infectious diseases, like Covid’s Delta variant.
Under the HERO Act, the DOL in consultation with the DOH 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. Additional information and industry-specific templates for employers are available on the DOL’s website (click here).
The plans adopted by employers must address a number of safety measures, including but not limited to: employee health screenings, masking and social distancing requirements, workplace hygiene stations, workplace cleaning protocol, quarantine protocol, and building airflow technology.
Employers are required to distribute their work safety plan to all employees and post it in a visible and prominent location within each worksite.
Additionally, the HERO Act includes anti-retaliation protections for employees which prohibit discrimination or adverse actions taken against an employee for following the requirements of these plans, reporting concerns on the implementation of a plan, or refusing to work.