New York HERO Act in Effect NOW

September 17, 2021

From Rich StupCornell Ag Workforce Development, NY Farm Bureau, and with additions from Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management Specialist.

On September 6, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under New York State's HERO Act.

This means that all NY employers, including farms, are required to activate theirairborne infectious disease plans. Employers should immediately: review and update their plans, provide a verbal review of the plan with all employees, provide written copies to employees, and post a copy of the plan in the workplace.

These plans include prevention measures such as: "stay at home" policy, daily health screening, face coverings, physical distancing, etc. Failure to comply with the NY HERO Act carries possible fines of $50/day for failing to adopt a plan and $1,000+/day for failing to comply with an adopted
plan, according to the National Law Review. The Act also contains very strict measures against employer retaliation against an employee who complains about a lack of workplace safety measures. (Rich Stup).

If you're just getting started, I would recommend following this process:

Download the model airborne infectious disease exposure plan. It's very "fill in the blanks here" and meets NYS standards. You can also use this model/fill in plan that is made specifically for agriculture. If you don't have access to internet, printer, or a computer, call me (716-640-0522) and I will get a paper copy to you.

Fill in the areas for your specific situation, there are 9 spaces total.

Be sure to have in place the "model's" recommendations now that the designation from the Governor has come through. This includes

Daily health screenings (symptom, contact, and temperature checks)

Providing and wearing PPE (face coverings, gloves, other PPE as needed)

Maintain distancing and ventilation when needed

Hand washing/sanitizing that are frequent and easily accessible

"Stay at Home" policy if experiencing illness symptoms

Cleaning and Disinfecting common areas (tractor cabs, break rooms, time-clocks, etc.) 

After the plan is together, you'll want to immediately verbally review the plan with employees, provide written copies to employees, add to your employee handbook, and post a copy in the workplace.

Businesses without employees do not need to have a plan in place, but should consider creating one anyway, especially if they have some type of public interaction. (Katelyn Walley-Stoll).

Also, a reminder to agricultural employers in New York State from NYS DOL: COVID19 Paid Leave benefits are still in effect. COVID19 Paid Leave benefits do not have an expiration date. Employers may not make workers use existing sick leave or other leave accruals, in lieu of providing COVID leave benefits. Employers must provide these quarantine benefits regardless of vaccination status. (NY Farm Bureau). 

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