New York State Employers Required to Adopt Plan for Prevention of Airborne Infectious Disease

July 8, 2021

As we previously reported, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Senate Bill S6768, on June 11, 2021, amending certain provisions of the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (Act), in the New York Labor Law, relating to preventing exposure to airborne infectious disease within the workplace. 

On July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) published The Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (Standard). The Standard applies to most private employers, regardless of size, with worksites located in New York State.

Required Written Exposure Prevention Plan

The Standard requires that each employer establish a written exposure prevention plan (Exposure Prevention Plan) designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to airborne infectious agents in the event of an outbreak of airborne infectious disease.[1]   

On July 6, 2021, the DOL also published a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (Model Plan) as well as industry-specific Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plans for the following industries:

Employers may either adopt the Model Plan or the applicable industry-specific model plan released by the DOL or they may choose to develop or establish an alternative Exposure Prevention Plan that meets or exceeds the Standard’s minimum requirements.

Employers are required to select and obtain appropriate exposure controls based on the type and level of exposure risks specific to their workplace. However, all Exposure Prevention Plans are required to address health screenings, face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene facilities, cleaning and disinfection, and personal protective equipment.

Employers have until August 5, 2021, to adopt an Exposure Prevention Plan and must evaluate whether to:

  • adopt the Model Plan or one of the industry-specific model plans from the DOL or
  • establish an alternative Exposure Prevention Plan tailored to their business.

According to the Act, in addition to posting requirements, employers have 30 days after adoption of their Exposure Prevention Plan to provide a copy to their employees in writing in English and in the primary language identified by each employee (unless the primary language identified is a language for which a model standard is not available from the DOL Commissioner).[2]

Additionally, the Act also requires employers, who provide an employee handbook to their employees, to include the Exposure Prevention Plan in their employee handbook.

[1] While employers are required to adopt an Exposure Prevention Plan, such plans are not required to be in effect until there is an airborne infectious agent or disease designated by the DOL Commissioner.

[2] The DOL has not issued the Standard or model plans in other languages.  However, it has been announced that they will be available in Spanish in the coming days.

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