NY Legislature Passes HERO Act with Workplace Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Standards

Situation Report | May 3, 2021

The state Legislature has passed legislation, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (called the NY HERO Act), that if signed by the Governor will affect employers, including home and community-based care providers, by establishing new requirements for prevention of infectious disease in the workplace.

The legislation (S.1034-B/A.2681-B) requires the state Commissioner of Labor, in consultation with the state Department of Health, to create an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard for all work sites, including:

  • Employee health screenings.
  • Face coverings.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), which shall be provided, used and maintained at the employer’s expense.
  • Accessible workplace hand hygiene stations and break times to use them.
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment.
  • Effective social distancing.
  • Compliance with mandatory or precautionary orders of isolation.
  • Compliance with applicable engineering controls such as proper air flow, exhaust ventilation or other special design requirements.
  • Designation of one or more supervisory employees to enforce compliance with the plan and any other federal, state or local guidance related to avoidance of spreading an airborne infectious disease.
  • Compliance with any applicable laws, rules, regulations, standards or guidance on notification to employees and relevant state and local agencies of potential exposure to airborne infectious disease at the worksite.
  • Verbal review of infectious disease standards, employer policies, and employee rights.

Employers would be required to establish an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan either by adopting the model standard or by implementing their own plan that equals or exceeds the model one. Employers would have to provide the plan to their employees on the act’s effective date and upon hiring. The plan would also need to be posted at the worksite.

In addition, the bill would require employers of 10 employees or more to allow employees to “establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee.” Each committee would be composed of employee and employer designees, but at least two-thirds must be non-supervisory employees.

Committees would be authorized to:

  • Raise health and safety concerns, review any policy put in place in the workplace required by this law and provide feedback.
  • 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.
  • Regularly schedule a meeting during work hours at least once a quarter.

The Act also includes anti-retaliatory provisions and monetary penalties.

HCA will notify members of what action the Governor takes on this legislation and any further details to assist providers with compliance and implementation.