Ryan T. Biesenbach
HERO Act “Airborne Infectious Disease” Designation Not Renewed
On Friday, March 18, 2022, the designation of COVID-19 as an “airborne infectious disease likely to cause serious harm to the public” was not renewed by the New York State Commissioner of Health. Consequently, private sector employers are no longer required to implement their workforce safety plans mandated under the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO Act”).
Signed into law on May 5, 2021, the HERO Act was quietly implemented on September 6, 2021. Since that time, HERO Act requirements and guidance – particularly with respect to masking, quarantine, and isolation – have changed somewhat depending on the current status of the pandemic. However, the obligation for all employers, statewide, to implement their individual HERO Act plans has remained until recently.
Although the designation of COVID-19 has changed, the HERO Act still creates employer obligations that must be followed. Employers should be aware that there may be specific masking, distancing, or vaccination requirements that may remain in place for your particular location or industry (for example, masks are still required for correction facilities, homeless shelters, adult care and nursing facilities and transportation hubs). Regardless, all employers still need to:
Create a compliant (and updated) HERO Act plan for their business. The DOL still provides Model Plans, the templates for which vary by industry;
Provide each employee a copy of your HERO Act plan within thirty (30) days after creating (or updating) and to all new employees upon hire;
Post the plan in each work site;
For employers of ten (10) or more employees, permit the establishment of workplace safety committees; and
Should the Commissioner make another designation regarding an airborne infectious disease, again activate and communicate the plan to employees.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Ryan T. Biesenbach, the author of this piece, here, or at (585) 258-2865.
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