May 27, 2021

Governor Cuomo recently signed into law the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, also known as the HERO Act. The goal of the act is to reduce workplace transmission and community spread of airborne infectious diseases. This effort will require employers to implement an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan (AIDEPP).

Specifics of the law are still somewhat unclear; in fact, both the NY Assembly and NY Senate are already proposing amendments to the act and Governor Cuomo has reportedly agreed to approve amendments he finds acceptable.

For now, we know that the law directs both the NYS Department of Labor and NYS Department of Health to create health and safety standards specific to each industry.  Those standards will establish minimum requirements that all workplaces must meet to limit employee exposure to airborne infection. Employers will have the right to develop their own AIDEPP that meets or exceeds those put forth by the NYSDOL and NYSDOH.

The law’s effective date is June 4, and NYSDOL and NYSDOH have an additional 30 days to publish standards.

Expected to be addressed in the standards are rules like what we currently see in the NY Forward Reopening guidelines;

  • Employee health screenings
  • Face coverings
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Accessible workplace hand hygiene stations
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment
  • Social distancing policies for employees and customers
  • Compliance with mandatory or precautionary quarantine orders issued to employees
  • Compliance with requirements for proper airflow, exhaust ventilation, or other special design needs
  • Designation of one or more supervisors to enforce compliance with the airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan and related federal, state, or local guidance
  • Notice of the anti-retaliation provisions of the NY HERO Act  

Additionally, effective November 1, 2021, the act requires the creation of a joint management/employee safety committee for employers with at least 10 employees.  Like the NYS Safe Patient Handling Act, there is a minimum ratio of staff to management that must be met. In this case, at least 2/3rds of each committee must be non-supervisory employees and one of the co-chairs must be an employee in a non-supervisory capacity.

For more information on forming a Safety Committee, please read 3 Key Elements to a Successful Safety Committee

Friedlander Group will update this newsletter as more information becomes available. Should you have any questions on this or any other safety topic, please contact Ray Sullivan at raymonds@friedlandergroup.com