In June of 2021 the New York Legislature passed the HERO Act requiring employers to adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure presentation plan by no later than August 5, 2021. Employers were free to use the State’s model plan entitled Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards and Model Plans for Various Industries, found at https://dol.ny.gov/ny-hero-act, or develop their own plans that were compliant with HERO Act’s requirements. However, employers were not obligated to implement the infectious disease plan until such time that the Commissioner of Health officially designated an outbreak as a “highly contagious infectious disease.”
On September 6, 2021, the Commissioner of Health formally designated COVID-19 as a highly infectious disease, thus triggering the obligations of New York employers to implement the protocols of their respective infectious disease prevention plans, including:
- Review and update the plan to incorporate any updated requirements
- Activate the plan and provide all employees with a copy of the plan
- Post a copy of the plan in a “visible and prominent location”
- Provide training to employees on the requirements of the plan
- Designate supervisory personnel to enforce the plan’s compliance
- Monitor and maintain exposure controls
- Regularly check for updated information from the New York Department of Health and the CDC.
The Department of Health has yet to issue any additional guidance on the implementation of infectious disease plans in response to this COVID-19 designation, and employers should consult with counsel for guidance on the plan’s implementation.