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COVID-19 designated as an Airborne Infectious Disease Under New York State’s Hero Act

Governor Kathy Hochul  announced that COVID-19 has been designated by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) as an airborne infectious disease under New York State’s Hero Act. This designation means that all employers need to implement their workplace safety plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as required by the New York Hero Act. This designation will remain in effect until September 30, 2021, at which point the Department of Health will review the level of transmission of COVID-19 in New York State and determine whether to continue this designation.

The New York HERO Act was implemented on May 5, 2021 and requires employers in New York to adopt extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HERO Act’s purpose is to ensure that businesses are prepared with protocols and resources to protect their employees and the public from the spread of airborne infectious diseases, like the COVID Delta variant.

Under the HERO Act, the DOL, in consultation with the DOH, has developed a 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. Additional information and industry-specific templates for employers are available on the DOL’s website, here.

Below are a few of the steps required of employers by the NY Hero Act:

  • Review your company’s worksite’s infectious disease exposure prevention plan to ensure that it incorporates all current information, guidance and requirements;
  • Finalize and activate your infectious disease worksite exposure prevention plan;
  • Post the plan prominently at the worksite and provide a verbal review of the plan to employees;
  • Provide each employee with a copy of the infectious disease exposure prevention plan.

While the designation remains in effect, each employer shall ensure that the plan is followed by:

  • Assigning enforcement responsibilities to one or more supervisory employees;
  • Monitoring and maintaining exposure controls; and
  • Regularly checking for updated information from the New York State Department of Health and CDC, and updating the plan as necessary.

NYSAR will continue to monitor any further information or guidance provided by NYS and will provide updates when available.

To learn more about the NY Hero Act, click here.