How to Get Started - The NY Hero Act 2021

Getting started with the NYS HERO Act - Protecting New York Workers from Airborne Diseases

By Christian Cobb

About the NY Hero Act

In May of 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law called the NY HERO Act, shortened for "The New York Health and Essential Rights Act". This brand new, first-of-its-kind policy focuses on workplace safety as it relates to airborne infectious diseases. According to the NYS website, the purpose of the NY HERO Act is to "protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak."

Recently the state has released a few models to help employers start to adopt airborne infectious diseases plans and it has stated that soon there will be a requirement to disclose them in a prominent location inside each place of business. Here are a few of the templates released by NYS:

How should I get started?

As an employer, it's important to get started with the NY Hero Act - but for most small companies, it won't take much more effort than what you're doing right now. To get started, first appoint someone to take ownership of your Infectious Disease Exposure and Prevention plan. If that person is you, then it's time to start filling out the plan.

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Your Plan of Attack

Moving forward, it will help to know some of the common terminology used inside the example guidelines. The NY Hero Act Guidelines break plan elements down into a number of categories such as:

  • Minimum Controls - Basic policy items that you're likely already doing in some capacity. Things like social distancing, stay-at-home policy, health screening, hand hygiene, and a few others. In order to comply, you'll have to document exactly how you plan to exercise these policies on a day-to-day basis.
  • Advanced Controls - Some advanced items you may or may not be doing, depending on your organization. Things in this category include limiting capacity, implementing air purification/ventilation upgrades, modifying space layouts, and utilizing kiosks / self-service options.
  • Administrative Controls - These administrative controls include some ultra-specific guidelines such as not allowing eating or drinking in certain areas, not handling materials touched by another person, and cross-training employees for critical business operations.
  • Exposure Control Readiness - The "what if" an outbreak occurs in the workplace controls. This basically boils down to having the right materials prepared and stored when the necessary time comes to use them. Additionally, it's important to have an up-to-date log on expiration dates as well as current supply counts.
  • Housekeeping - A pretty straightforward set of instructions on minimum housekeeping requirements including surfaces to clean, cleaning schedules, isolation techniques, and a short section on how to work with waste.
  • Training - Ensuring that your team is up to date with the Infectious Disease Exposure and Prevention plan. Specifically the first 3 items in this list.

What should I look out for?

The policies are still new and unfolding, but there are a few things to consider as you're tackling your Infectious Disease Exposure and Prevention plan. These things should help position your plan effectively.

  • Training - This should not be overlooked, training can help your team learn about what you're doing and how you're doing it. At the end of the day, your team is going to help you pull off your plan.
  • Employee Reporting - Employees will be allowed to report their workplace should they feel the plan is inadequate or the controls aren't properly in place. Employers found in violation of the NY Hero Act will likely have to pay a fine, but that value has yet to be determined.

Our Takeaway: Get started soon.

While the entirety of the requirements isn't completely fleshed out, more is emerging day by day. We recommend getting started with components of the policy that you feel are most important for your space today. The more you get done today, the less burden you and your team will have when the policy is in full swing.

For every plan, air purification is pivotal for the safety and productivity of the workplaces of today and tomorrow. The NY HERO Act echos this sentiment by including it as a key component to their example Infectious Disease Exposure and Prevention plans.

If you need some assistance, Intellipure® can help with some of the advanced controls and the entirety of engineering controls in the NY guidelines. Feel free to reach out on our contact page and check the option for NY HERO Act.


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