As detailed in our previous Legal Briefing (see link: NYS Department of Labor Issues HERO Act Model Policy and Standards – Compliance Deadline Looming (lawpf.com)), in May, 2021, former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“NY HERO Act), which mandated certain employers to implement extensive workplace health and safety protections from future airborne infectious diseases. In July, 2021, the New York Department of Labor issued new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards and a general Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan. Employers had until August 6, 2021 to establish their airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans.
At first, employers only needed to adopt and provide written notice of an airborne infectious disease prevention plan. The specific safety measures in the plan, however, would not need to be implemented until such time that the New York State Commissioner of Health designated an airborne infectious agent or disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that prevents a serious risk of harm to the public health. The Commissioner of Health took such action this week.
On Labor Day (September 6, 2021), New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the New York State Commissioner of Health has now designated COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under the HERO Act, triggering all applicable employers to implement their workplace safety plans. Here are links to the formal designation as well as the Governor’s announcement:
Commissioner’s Designation Pursuant to Labor Law § 218-b for COVID-19 (ny.gov)
Governor Kathy Hochul Announces Designation of COVID-19 as an Airborne Infectious Disease Under New York State's HERO Act (ny.gov)
Applicable employers should now review their plans, update them as necessary to conform with current information and government guidelines, activate the plans at each worksite, and provide written copies of the updated/activated plan to each employee.
As noted in the above Commissioner’s Designation, this designation will remain in effect at least through September 30, 2021, at which point the Commissioner of Health will review the transmission level of COVID-19 in the State in order to determine whether the designation will continue.
Our Firm has extensive experience counseling employers and businesses on employment and labor law issues, as well as preparing and implementing applicable employee policies. If you have any questions related to this Legal Briefing, please contact any member of our Firm at 585-730-4773. Please note that any embedded links to other documents may expire in the future.
This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC