As we previously blogged, Governor Cuomo signed the HERO Act, and it requires employers to create an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan.  The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) was tasked with creating a generally-applicable model policy and industry-specific model policies for employers to either directly implement or to expand upon.

We also blogged in June that the HERO Act was amended to give the DOL more time to establish the model plans.

The DOL now has published the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, the general model prevention plan, and the industry-specific templates for employers to utilize.

What industry-specific templates were published?  The DOL published specific plans for Agriculture, Construction, Delivery Services, Domestic Workers, Emergency Response, Food Services, Manufacturing and Industry, Personal Services, Private Education, Private Transportation and Retail.

What do I do now?  Employers have 30 days to create your prevention plan. This means that you must create it by Friday, August 6th.  You may use a DOL model plan, expand on a DOL model plan, or start from scratch on your own plan, whichever is best for you. Or you can call your friendly neighborhood attorney who can help walk you through the process! 🙂

What about my employees? Within 30 days of your creating your plan, you’ve got to share it with your employees – and remember – that’s a wide definition here.The HERO Act’s definition of employee includes independent contractors, part-time workers, and seasonal employees.

How do I tell all these folks?  That’s an easy one, because the law lays it all out. If you have a handbook, the plan must be included – so now is a good time to update your handbook! And just like your sexual harassment policy, this plan must be posted conspicuously and provided to employees at hire.

Practice Pointer: Circulate the policy to all current employees and independent contractors, part-timers and seasonal people, and have them sign off on receipt. That gives you an easy reference to prove you distributed your plan.

When do I need to follow the model plan?  A plan must be implemented only when the New York Commissioner of Health declares an airborne infectious disease to be a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” What does that mean? You’ll hear from the State Commissioner of Health when the plan needs to be implemented at your worksite.

Do I need to follow my plan now?  NO. You merely need to create your plan by August 6th and circulate/post it within 30 days from then.

Have a question about the HERO Act, what plan your business should put into place, or other worksite safety concerns?  Our staff at The Coppola Firm is happy to help you navigate through your obligations.