Workplace Update – New York State HERO Act to Protect Worker’s from Airborne Diseases – New Policies to be Established


The New York Health and Essential Rights Act , also known as the New York HERO Act, is currently in effect. The New York HERO Act was passed in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. By August 5, 2021, all New York employers must establish policies and procedures to be distributed to their employees; posted in a well-viewed location; and to be followed when required.

According to the New York State Department of Labor “The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.”

The New York State Department of Labor has set forth new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease that employers can follow and utilize in creating their own policies to protect employees from airborne infectious diseases in the workplace.

The plan applies to all “employees” which has been defined to mean “any person providing labor or services for remuneration for a private entity or business within the state.” The term “employees” includes part-time employees, independent contractors, consultants, temporary and seasonal workers, domestic workers, home care and personal care workers, farmworkers, day laborers, individuals working for digital applications or platforms, staffing agencies, contractors/subcontractors on behalf of the employer at any individual work site, individuals delivering goods or transporting people on behalf of the employer. “Employees” as defined is without regard to the individual’s immigration status.

For more information on the New York HERO Act Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard click here.

To view a copy of the New York HERO Act Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan/template that sets forth the minimum standards employers are to implement click here.

The plan requires minimum controls to be put into place during an outbreak, including, without limitation: health screening, face coverings, physical distancing, stay at home policies for those with symptoms or who have been exposed, hand washing and sanitizing, disinfecting and cleaning by the employer. The plan also requires advanced controls be put into effect alongside the minimum controls when the minimum controls are not deemed sufficient. Some such controls, include the following, among others: ventilation systems, barriers such as partitions or plastic guards, additional PPE to be provided to employees at no cost to the employee, change in traffic flow, limiting the use of shared work stations, etc.

The new law also contains an anti-retaliation provisions to protect employees who exercise their rights under the law.

While employers are required to prepare and distribute the plans by August 5th, currently as of the date of this posting, they are not required to be put into effect.

For more information regarding your rights and obligations, contact Sheree Donath at, (516) 804-0274 or by clicking here.

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