Under New York’s latest workplace safety law (the New York Hero Act), all New York employers (including condominiums and cooperatives) must take the following steps to comply with the law and Department of Labor (“DOL”) guidance and prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases in the workplace:
- August 5, 2021: Employers must adopt a safety protocol. Here is a link to the DOL’s model safety protocol form that would need to be filled out. The model protocol generally tracks the State’s guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, which were recently discontinued.
- September 4, 2021: Within 30 days of officially adopting a safety protocol, employers must provide the adopted safety protocol to their employees (including building staff). (Due to the Labor Day holiday, the likely effective date for this obligation is Tuesday, September 7). Employers must also post the protocol in a “visible and prominent location.”
The DOL has emphasized that, while employers must now adopt a safety protocol by completing the model form referenced above within the statutory deadline, there is no current requirement to activate the protocol, as the Commissioner of Health has not designated any specific airborne infectious disease (including COVID-19) as a highly-contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health at this time.
A separate part of the law, which will go into effect on November 1, 2021, requires employers to permit employees to form a joint labor-management workplace safety committee with employee and employer designees. The DOL has not yet issued guidance regarding this portion of the law.
Failure to comply with the Hero Act can result in monetary fines, agency investigations, and employee-initiated lawsuits.