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HERO ACT SIGNED INTO LAW

On May 5, 2021, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) was signed into law. The law mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.

Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health (NYS DOH), has developed a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Employers can choose to adopt the applicable policy template/plan provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard's minimum requirements.

The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standards include procedures and methods for:

  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting
  • Employee health screenings
  • Face coverings
  • Required personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Hand hygiene
  • Social distancing
  • Compliance with mandatory or precautionary orders of isolation or quarantine
  • Compliance with applicable engineering controls (e.g., proper air flow)
  • Designation of one or more supervisory employees to enforce compliance
  • Verbal review of health and safety standards.


Employers are required to provide a copy of the adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan and post the same in a visible and prominent location within each worksite.

The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect 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. With such designation, the health and safety plan must be:

  • reviewed and implemented promptly,
  • monitored and maintained, and
  • updated in accordance with guidance from the New York State Department of Health ("DOH") and/or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC").


The HERO Act prohibits an employer from discriminating, threatening, retaliating against, or taking adverse action against any workforce member for:

  • Exercising their rights under the HERO Act or under a workplace health and safety plan;
  • Reporting violations of the HERO Act or an applicable workplace health and safety plan;
  • Reporting a workplace health and safety concern or seeking assistance or intervention with respect to airborne infectious disease exposure concerns; or
  • Refusing to work where such workforce member reasonably believes, in good faith, that such work exposes them, other workforce members, or the public, to an unreasonable risk of exposure to an airborne infectious disease due to working conditions that are inconsistent with the law or workplace health and safety plan.


The HERO Act also requires employers to permit workers to establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee.

Providers with questions or in need of assistance in complying with the NYS HERO Act are welcome to contact Trusiak Law at https://trusiaklaw.com/contact.
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