Governor Kathy Hochul has designated COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the state’s HERO Act. The designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans in the event of an airborne infectious disease in order to help prevent workplace infections.
The NY HERO Act mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the law, all employers are required to adopt a workplace safety plan, and implement it for all airborne infectious diseases designated by the New York State Department of Health. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.
The plans adopted by employers must address a number of safety measures, including but not limited to: employee health screenings, masking and social distancing requirements, workplace hygiene stations, workplace cleaning protocol, quarantine protocol, and building airflow technology.
Employers are required to distribute their work safety plan to all employees and post it in a visible and prominent location within each worksite.
Additionally, the HERO Act includes anti-retaliation protections for employees which prohibit discrimination or adverse actions taken against an employee for following the requirements of these plans, reporting concerns on the implementation of a plan, or refusing to work.