New York State Passes Legislation Mandating COVID-19 Safety Standards in the Workplace

The New York state Legislature has passed the New York Health and Essentials Rights Act, also known as the Heroes Act.  The Act has two main components.  First the Act would require all employers in the New York to implement safety standards and adopt a prevention plan to protect against further spread of infectious diseases in the workplace, including COVID-19.   Second, the bill would require employers with at least 10 employees to allow employees to “establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee.” Each committee would be composed of employee and employer designees, provided at least two-thirds are non-supervisory employees.

The Act requires the State’s Department of Labor, in consultation with the Department of Health, to create the infectious disease safety standard. The Act requires the Department of Labor to develop a model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan.  It is expected that the plan would recognize differences between the various industry sectors impacted.  Other formally adopted state rules have followed this same protocol with more stringent requirements placed on health care settings.

The contents of the plan would establish minimum requirements for the following:

  • Employee health screenings
  • Face coverings
  • Required PPE that must be maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition at the employer’s expense
  • Accessible workplace hand hygiene stations and maintaining healthy hand hygiene, including providing adequate break times for employees to wash their hands
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces
  • Effective social distancing for employee, consumers, and customers
  • Compliance with mandatory or precautionary orders of isolation or quarantine that have been issued to employees
  • 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 as applicable to employees and third parties (i.e., customers, contractors, and members of the public within the workplace)
  • 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 standard, employer policies and employee rights.

PRINTING United Alliance will continue to keep you updated on the progress of potential regulatory actions.  For more information, please contact Marci Kinter, or Gary Jones,

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