On Monday, September 6, 2021, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the New York State Commissioner of Health (“Commissioner”) has designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” under the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act). The Commissioner’s designation requires that all New York State employers “promptly” activate their workplace airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans which they were required to adopt under the HERO Act.
The HERO Act requires that all New York State employers have in place an industry-specific model airborne disease exposure prevention plan issued by the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) or develop their own exposure prevention plan that equals or exceeds the exposure prevention standard set by the DOL. The DOL standard and model exposure prevention plans are available here.
Under the DOL’s exposure prevention standard, activation of an employer’s exposure prevention plan requires that an employer take several steps, including the following:
Employers should review the specifics of their own exposure prevention plans to ensure that they comply with all other requirements listed in them.
As long as the Commissioner’s designation is in effect, employers must also do the following: