The New York HERO Act is Launched to Protect Workers Even More Against the Spread of COVID-19
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo enforces a strict new law.
- By Shereen Hashem
- May 07, 2021
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or New York HERO Act (S.1034-B/A.2681-B). According to Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Karines Reyes, the bill, now a law, requires businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.
“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit. The New York HERO Act will honor their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I appreciate the efforts of so many advocates and organizers who made this success possible.”
The law itself doesn’t outright say what the standards will be for businesses, but the department of labor will be required to consider different levels of exposure and the prevalence of the disease in developing new regulations. It's expected, however, that standards include face coverings and proper ventilation.
According to an article, companies with at least 10 employees will be required to allow workers to form “special oversight committees tasked with monitoring the implementation and maintenance of the new standards.” If the business violates the standards, however, it could face thousands of dollars in civil penalties – either from the state or litigation brought by employees.
The new law allows the state to fine businesses $50 for each day they haven’t created a new plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Workers could also bring their employers to court for violations and collect up to $20,000 for damages unless the judge finds a reasonable excuse for the company failing to comply.
The NY HERO Act requires the Department of Labor and Health to implement enforceable minimum standards for workplace safety.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.