HERO Act Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Plan Materials Released
On July 6, 2021, and pursuant to the recently enacted New York State HERO Act, the New York State Department of Labor released industry templates for a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan and the Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Standard. New York State employers are required to adopt and maintain their respective industry template or an equivalent—although interestingly, the plan does not go into effect and cannot be implemented unless and until the New York State Commissioner of Health designates a disease as highly contagious which presents a serious risk of harm to the public. The HERO Act is not intended to combat COVID-19, but rather any similar infectious disease in the future (i.e., does not apply to the seasonal flu).
Employers have until Thursday, August 5, 2021, to adopt their industry template. After that, employers have until Saturday, September 4 (best to do by Friday, September 3, 2021) to verbally notify employees about the plan, post the plan in the workplace, and add it to their employee handbook. Nothing else needs to be done now and the plan itself lays out the employers’ duties should the Commissioner of Health make the requisite finding. Documents regarding an employee allegation of a plan violation must be maintained for two years and retaliation against complaining employees is prohibited. Finally, effective November 1, 2021, the HERO Act requires employers with 10 or more employees to allow, if requested, a workplace safety committee regarding airborne infectious diseases. Guidance regarding this is expected soon from the Department of Labor.
If you have any questions regarding the issues discussed above, or if you have any other Labor & Employment Law concerns, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Paul Keneally, the author of this piece, here or at (585) 258-2882.