NY HERO Act: What New York Businesses Should Know

On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act), which mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in regard to airborne illnesses.  in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The act sets forth mandatory standards not just for COVID-19, but for all airborne infectious diseases.

NY HERO Act Overview

While the New York HERO Act was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will and has subsequently set the standards for protecting private sector employees against exposure and disease during ANY future airborne infectious disease outbreak.

Under the law, businesses must adhere to exposure prevention standards, exposure prevention plans, and various specific provisions for certain industries. 

Who's Covered by NY HERO Act Provisions?

The NYS HERO Act applies to all nongovernmental public and private employers regardless of size and status, temp employees, and individuals making deliveries to a work site.

The Act does not cover employees at any work site that the employer does not have the ability to control, including most telework/telecommuting.

NY HERO Act Requirements

Infectious disease prevention plans must go into effect following the designation of an airborne infectious disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health. This designation comes from the New York State Commissioner of Health

Upon such a designation, businesses are required to provide and implement an adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan to employees and must post the same plan in a visible and easily accessible location in the workplace. The New York Department of Labor released an updated version of the plan in February 2022. 

Employers may use the NYS DOL-provided plan (linked above) or an equivalent plan that follows the standard's minimum requirements. Businesses should contact a New York HR provider for help in creating a compliant plan. If employers adopt an alternative plan and there is no collective bargaining representative, the employer must develop the plan with “meaningful participation of employees.”

COVID-19 Update: On March 17, 2022, the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under the HERO Act ended. Private sector employers are no longer required to implement their workforce safety plans. 

For more information on the basic requirements of section 1 of the NY HERO Act, businesses can visit the NY HERO Act website.

HERO Act Industry-Specific Requirements

The NY HERO Act has industry-specific requirements for the following industries:

  • Agriculture 
  • Construction
  • Vehicle Operations for Delivery Services
  • Domestic Workers
  • Emergency Response 
  • Food Service
  • Manufacturing and Industrial 
  • Personal Services
  • Private Education
  • Private Transportation by Automobile
  • Retail

NY HERO Act Timeline

May 5, 2021 – NY HERO Act signed into law.
July 6, 2021 – NYS DOL published the HERO Act standard and model plans.
August 5, 2021 – New York employers were required to adopt their safety and health plan.
September 4, 2021 –New York employer were required to give their safety and health plan to their employees and post the plan in each work site.
September 6, 2021 – The New York State Commissioner of Health designated COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease.
March 17, 2022 - The designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under the HERO Act ended.

NY HERO Act: Section 2

Section 2 of the act requires all private employers of ten (10) employees or more to allow employees to establish a joint employer-employee workplace health and safety committee authorized to raise health and safety issues and evaluate workplace health and safety policies.

Employers are required to permit employees to establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee … composed of employee and employer designees, provided that at least two-thirds are nonsupervisory employees. The act specifies that non-supervisory employees must select the employee members. Where there is a CBA in place, the CBA representative will be responsible for the selection of employees to serve as members of the committee.

Each workplace safety committee and its designees are authorized to perform the following tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Raise health and safety concerns, hazards, complaints, and violations to the employer to which the employer must respond.
  • Review any policy put in place in the workplace required by any provision of this act and any provision of the workers’ compensation law and provide feedback to such policy in a manner consistent with any provision of law
  • Review the adoption of any policy in the workplace in response to any health or safety law, ordinance, rule, regulation, executive order, or other related directive
  • Participate in any site visit by any governmental entity responsible for enforcing safety and health standards in a manner consistent with any provision of law
  • Review any report filed by the employer related to the health and safety of the workplace in a manner consistent with any provision of law
  • Regularly schedule a meeting during work hours at least once a quarter
  • Employers are required to permit safety committee designees to attend a training, without suffering a loss of pay, on the function of worker safety committees, rights established under the act, and an introduction to occupational safety and health
  • Provisions of Section 2 may be waived by a CBA, provided that the waiver explicitly references the section

NY HERO Act Compliance Management

While there currently are no airborne infectious diseases that present a serious risk of harm to public health, businesses still need to adhere to the requirements in regard to being prepared for any such disease. 

New York businesses that are struggling with compliance, or are having trouble creating an appropriate plan should contact a New York HR Service provider for help. 

To learn more about how EBC is already helping countless New York businesses with health and safety compliance, contact us today. 

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