New York State recently enacted the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, also known as the HERO Act. The primary goal of the act is to reduce workplace transmission and community spread of airborne infectious disease. Effective November 1, 2021 the act requires employers to allow the creation of a joint management/employee safety committee for worksites with at least 10 employees.
Requirements of the Safety Committee
- The act requires a minimum ratio of staff to management that must be met. In this case, at least 2/3’s of each committee must be non-supervisory employees.
- One of the co-chairs must be an employee in a nonsupervisory capacity.
- The committee is limited to discussion of workers' safety.
- Employers must allow regularly scheduled meetings during work hours at least once a quarter
- Meetings shall not last longer than two hours
Encouraging Worker Involvement
The concept of worker involvement in committees is not new, and it can be very effective. No one knows the safety challenges presented to workers daily, more than the workers themselves.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you let your workers participate in committee meetings;
- Workers should feel comfortable providing input and be free to report safety concerns.
- Workers should have access to some information to effectively participate.
- For example, it is helpful to show them reports of safety incidents, facility inspection forms and loss runs. Remove claimant names and values of claims.
- The act states that employees should not face retaliation if and when they raise safety and health concerns.
The new requirement by New York State is an excellent opportunity to revamp your organization’s safety committee to get meaningful input from staff which can make the committee more effective. Use 3 Key Elements to a Successful Safety Committee as a guide for setting up your new safety committee or a refresher to ensure you are using the most effective techniques!
By establishing and utilizing a safety committee, employers promote their Culture of Caring to their employees, minimize the chances of a workplace injury and help prevent future workers' compensation claims!
Should you have any questions on this or any other safety topic, please contact Ray Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the HERO act, visit https://dol.ny.gov/ny-hero-act.