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COVID-19 Designated As An Airborne Infectious Disease Under The HERO Act


On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. This designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans.

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

Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, 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. Visit the Department of Labor website to access the available templates.

The plans adopted by employers must address a number of safety measures, including but not limited to:

  • Employee Health Screenings
  • Masking & Social Distancing Requirements
  • Workplace Hygiene Stations
  • Workplace Cleaning Protocol
  • Quarantine Protocol
  • Building Airflow Technology

Employers are required to provide a copy of the adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan and post it in a clearly visible location within each worksite. The HERO Act also includes anti-retaliation protections for employees. Those protections prohibit discrimination or adverse actions against an employee for following the requirements of the plan, reporting concerns on the implementation of a plan, or refusing to work.

Hillmann Can Help

Our team of Certified Industrial Hygienists and Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) professionals are ready to assist our clients in developing a compliant plan. Simply email us at or contact us using the contact us button at the bottom of this page.

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