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On July 7, 2021, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) published the NY Hero Act airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard (the Standard) and industry-specific model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans as required under the NY Hero Act (the Act). As we previously discussed, the Act requires New York employers to implement extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to a “highly contagious communicable disease” as designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health (Designation). Notably and significantly, while the NY Department of Health continues to deal with COVID-19 and a risk still exists, the DOL clarified that there is no current Designation for COVID-19 by the Commissioner and therefore, no New York employer is required to put a plan in effect at this time due to COVID-19.

Continue Reading NY DOL publishes Hero Act standards and prevention plans, but immediate implementation not necessary

As we previously discussed, on May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the NY Hero Act (the Act) into law, codifying health and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 7, 2021, the New York State Legislature passed amendments (the Amendments) to the Act to address certain ambiguities, in particular regarding the logistics of complying with the Act’s terms. If the Amendments are signed by Governor Cuomo, as is expected, they will push back the effective date of the majority of provisions of the Act from June 4 to July 5, 2021, with the exception of the workplace safety committee provision, which will take effect November 1, 2021.

Continue Reading New York set to amend the New York Hero Act

Update: The Emergency Temporary Standard was published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2021 as an interim final rule.

On June 10, 2021, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the first nationwide emergency workplace safety rule per President Joe Biden’s January executive order directing the agency to pursue an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19. The newly published emergency temporary standard (ETS) applies only to employers in the healthcare industry, and requires such employers to protect their workers against on-the-job COVID-19 infections. Other employers should consult OSHA’s separately published guidance applicable to workers not covered by the ETS, also published on June 10 and covered in our separate blog post.

Continue Reading OSHA issues COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for healthcare settings

On June 10, 2021, the same day that it released its long-anticipated COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for healthcare settings (which we discuss here), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also issued updated COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare workplaces (Guidance). The Guidance provides that, with limited exceptions, employers generally need not implement any COVID-19 safety measures for fully vaccinated workers but should continue to take a multi-pronged approach to protecting unvaccinated workers and those who are “otherwise at-risk” due to compromised immunity. Unlike the healthcare ETS, the Guidance for non-healthcare settings is advisory and not legally binding.

Continue Reading OSHA issues updated COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings

On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its “What you should know about COVID-19” Frequently Asked Questions (the FAQs), answering questions many employers have had regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and addressing additional considerations relevant to returning employees to the worksite. The FAQs include long-awaited guidance on how employers may provide incentives for employees to obtain vaccines, and also discuss employer inquiries about employee vaccination status and mandatory vaccine policies, among other issues.

Below are key takeaways from the EEOC’s May 28 guidance.
Continue Reading EEOC releases guidance on permissible vaccine incentives and other COVID-19 vaccine issues

On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals (Vaccination Guidance), stating that fully vaccinated people (fully vaccinated means two weeks after receiving a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after a first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can:

  • Resume indoor and outdoor activities

UPDATE:  On May 5th, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the legislation into law.  The law will go into effect on June 4, 2021.

On April 21, 2021, both houses of the New York Legislature announced passage of the NY Hero Act, which will require employers to implement extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the Act into law in the coming weeks.

The NY Hero Act will go into effect 30 days after the Governor signs it into law. When it does, all New York employers, regardless of size, will need to take action to comply with the new obligations that this law will impose.

Continue Reading New York set to require new workplace health and safety protections

UPDATE: On April 21, 2021, we wrote the following blog post describing guidance from OSHA that required, in certain circumstances, that employers record adverse COVID-19 vaccine reactions in their OSHA logs. On May 21, 2021, OSHA updated its FAQs to reverse its guidance on when employers should record adverse COVID-19 vaccine reactions. Employers now do

On April 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh placed a “hold” on the implementation of a potential U.S. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which would set a national COVID-19 safety standard for OSHA-covered employers throughout the United States. While President Biden’s inauguration day Executive Order directed