As detailed in our previous Client Alert, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) mandates that all private sector employers adopt workplace health and safety protections in an effort to protect employees during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak. Specifically, the NY HERO Act requires private sector employers in New York to adopt a health and safety plan to protect employees from exposure to airborne infectious diseases (a “Prevention Plan”).
The New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) has now published its Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards ("Minimum Standards"), which set out the basic requirements for Prevention Plans and exposure controls, as well as a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan applicable to most businesses (“Model Prevention Plan”). In addition, the NYDOL has published certain industry-specific Model Prevention Plans, including for construction, delivery services, domestic workers, food services, manufacturing and industry, personal services, private education, private transportation and retail businesses.
At present, the NYDOL has no plans to adopt industry-specific guidance for hotels. Rather, the NYDOL has advised that hotels should adopt the general Model Prevention Plan and add in any industry-specific controls that may be warranted – for example, if there is a restaurant or bar in the hotel, the “food services” Model Prevention Plan should be used in tandem with, or to enhance, the general Model Prevention Plan.
Employers must adopt the general Model Prevention Plan, or if applicable an industry-specific Model Prevention Plan, or otherwise establish an alternative Prevention Plan that meets or exceeds the Minimum Standards no later than August 6, 2021. The Prevention Plan must also be posted conspicuously at the worksite at that time. Employees must be provided with a copy of the adopted Prevention Plan by September 5, 2021.
It is important to note that while a Prevention Plan must be adopted and distributed on the timeline set out above, employers need not take any further action at this time. Rather, the steps outlined in the Prevention Plan must only be taken when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioners of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health – and at present, there is no such designation in effect for COVID-19. We also note that employers will need to post and distribute their Prevention Plan in additional languages once translated Model Prevention Plans are made available by the NYDOL.
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If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact any of our Labor & Employment attorneys or the primary EGS attorney with whom you work.