We were joined this week by Debbie Berkowitz, former Program Director of Worker Health and Safety of the National Employment Law Project and Marina Jabsky, Industrial Hygienist for NYCOSH.
Debbie discussed what the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on vaccine mandates and testing may include. The new ETS, which will cover both private and public sector, may be out as early as next week. Here in NJ, the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH), has 30 days to adopt it. Questions remain on whether employers will be responsible for paying for COVID-19 testing in the absence of an employee getting vaccinated.
Marina walked us through the requirements of the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) that was signed into law on May 5, 2021. The law mandates new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard. New York is the only state in the country to have such a standard.
Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor, in consultation with the NYS Department of Health developed 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.
In addition, Section 2 of the HERO Act, which takes effect on November 1, 2021, requires employers who employ at least ten employees to allow employees to form a workplace safety committee. The committee’s scope applies to all workplace hazards, not just COVID-19. More than 40 people attended this webinar.