On September 23, 2021, New York State issued updated model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans for employer use pursuant to the HERO Act. While a general model plan appropriate for office workplaces and separate plans for certain specific industries were previously issued by the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL), these have now been updated and reissued with substantive changes to two sections – face coverings and social distancing.

With regard to face coverings, the model plans now provide that, in workplaces where all individuals on premises, including but not limited to employees, are fully vaccinated, face coverings are “recommended, but not required.” For all other workplaces, the model plan now states: “Employees will wear appropriate face coverings in accordance with guidance from State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable.” Previously, the model plans stated that “employees will wear face coverings throughout the workday to the greatest extent possible” and “[f]ace coverings and physical distancing should be used together whenever possible.”

With regard to social distancing, the revised model plans remove prior references to “avoiding unnecessary gatherings” and “using a face covering when physical distance cannot be maintained.”  Now, the section states only: “Physical distancing will be used to the extent feasible, as advised by guidance from State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable.” The revised plans still, however, require the employer to list the health and safety controls it will implement in circumstances where distancing cannot be maintained.

As a reminder, the foregoing Hero Act requirements are applicable to LHCSA office staff, fiscal intermediary office employees, and personal assistants in CDPAP.

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