The New York State Department of Labor had published the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (“Standard”) on July 6, 2021. The Standard is a model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan (“Model Plan”) and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease, as required by the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act). Private employers have until August 5 to adopt the Model Plan developed by NY Department of Labor or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the Prevention Standard’s minimum requirements.
Salient Features of the Standard are:
- The New York Department of Labor has stated on their website that, the plans need to be activated only “when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” Thus, while employers must adopt a plan by August 5, they are currently not required to put the adopted plan into effect. Despite the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioner has not made this designation at this time.
- The Government states that the employers must be prepared to implement the adopted plan if or when a designation is put into effect. The Department of Labor instructs employers to check the websites of the departments of Health and Labor for up-to-date information regarding whether a designation has been put into effect, as any such designation will be prominently displayed.
- The Model Plan and Prevention Standard include specific minimum controls, including daily employee health screenings, face coverings, hand hygiene, social distancing, and workplace cleaning and disinfecting, as well as advanced controls (i.e., engineering controls and administrative controls) for activities where the minimum controls alone will not provide sufficient protection.
- As a reminder, pursuant to an emergency regulation issued on June 23 and separate from the NY HERO Act, employees who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a face covering when in direct contact with customers or members of the public, or when unable to maintain social distance.
- Duty of Employers:
- Adopt the Model Plan or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements set forth in the Prevention Standard by August 5.
- Provide a copy of the adopted prevention plan in English or in the primary language4 of employees to all employees and post the same in a visible and prominent location within each work site by September 4.
- Monitor the NY state government websites for updates regarding the commissioner’s designation.
- For employers with ten or more employees, begin to allow employees to establish a workplace safety committee on or after November 1.
*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.