This month, Governor Hochul announced that the Commissioner of Health has designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act.”

Former Governor Cuomo had previously signed the NY HERO Act into law on May 5, later amending the legislation in three main areas on June 11. The NY HERO Act requires employers to develop airborne exposure prevention plans and communicate them to employees. Under Governor Cuomo, the plans were required to be adopted by August 5 but were not required to be in effect. Now, Governor Hochul’s designation requires that the airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans be activated by employers and abided by employees.

What Do Employers Need to Do Now?

  1. Employers should understand what the New York State HERO Act entails. As we previously reported, the HERO Act has two main sections governing (1) the development and adoption of a workplace prevention policy for airborne infectious diseases, and (2) the creation of workplace safety committees.
  2. Review the industry-specific templates posted by the New York State Department of Labor in consultation with the New York State Department of Health. 
  3. Ensure their airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans meet  the NYS DOL and NYS Department of Health minimum standards and model plans.
  4. Communicate the plan to all employees. The prevention plan should be posted in the workplace in a visible location and distributed to all employees.
  5. Lastly, employers and employees should follow their prevention plans and look out for any new guidance from the state.

CMM will continue to provide updates. For guidance on the NY HERO Act or adopting your own prevention plan now that plans must be activated, please contact us. 

For more information on the NY HERO Act, read CMM’s “What Employers Need to Know about HERO Act Obligations” article here.