Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
All private employers with employees and worksites in the state of New York must adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan by early next month. We urge all of you to begin the process as soon as possible.
The plans are required under the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act. This is a new law that the state legislature passed and modified last spring; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the original on May 5 and the changes on June 11. It took effect on July 4.
The law required the New York State Department of Labor, working with the Department of Health, to develop and publish an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard and a model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. Both the standard and the model plan were on the Labor Department's website on the morning of July 7; they may have been posted the night before.
All private employers are required to adopt a prevention plan within 30 days of when the Labor Department published its model. If the model was published on July 6, this means that the deadline for adopting a plan is August 5. However, you are not required to put the plan into effect unless or until the Department of Health designates an airborne infectious disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. To date, the department has not assigned that designation to any diseases, so you are not required to put the plan you adopt into effect right away.
The law gives employers the option of adopting either the Labor Department's model or their own plans that equal or exceed the protections provided by the model. Before you decide what to do, we suggest that you review the model to see if it fits your operations. If it does, you can probably feel comfortable adopting the model as is. If not, you may want to modify it. Just make sure that any modifications you make protect your employees and the public at least as well as the model does.
The standard and model prevention plan are available for download from the Labor Department's website. They are PDF files of 4 pages and 9 pages in length, respectively.
Watch our website and newsletters for future announcements of resources to help you comply with the requirements.
UPDATE: We have posted a "frequently asked questions" page about the prevention plan requirements in the Coronavirus section of this website. A Big I NY user ID and password are required to access that section. We will also present a Gear Up webinar about the plan requirements on Wednesday, July 14 at 10:00 a.m. Registration is free for members and $25 for non-members.