New York State Hero Act is Past Due!

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On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) into law. The law mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.

New York Labor Law 218B & Section 27D

Key Dates

  • August 5, 2021: The Airborne Infectious Disease plan was due for most business owners in New York State
  • September 4, 2021: Deadline for plans to be communicated to employees
  • November 1, 2021: Workplace Safety Committees are implemented


Under this new law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, has developed a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, 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.

The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.

The standard and model prevention plans are currently available in English and will soon be available in Spanish and other languages.

Employers are required to:

  1. Provide a copy of the adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan to their employees
  2. Post the plan in a visible and prominent location within each worksite
  3. Incorporate the prevention plan into their employee handbook.

Safety Committee

The NY HERO Act also requires employers to allow their employees to create and administer a joint labor-management workplace health and safety committee. These workplace safety committees must be authorized to:

  1. Raise health and safety concerns, hazards, complaints and violations to the employer, to which the employer must respond
  2. Review and provide feedback concerning issues of occupational health and safety
  3. Review the adoption of any policy in the workplace in response to any health or safety law, ordinance, rule, regulation, executive order or other related directive
  4. Participate in any worksite visit by a governmental entity responsible for enforcing safety and health standards
  5. Review any report filed by the employer related to the health and safety of the workplace
  6. Schedule a meeting during work hours at least quarterly

Are there potential fines?

  • $50 per day for failing to adopt an appropriate plan
  • $1,000 to $10,000 for failing to comply with an adopted plan.
  • $200 If an employer violated the law in the previous six years, penalties may increase to per day for failure to implement an appropriate plan
  • $1,000 to $20,000 for failure to abide by an adopted plan.


  1. NYS Department of Labor, NYS Hero Act, July 5 2021 https://dol.ny.gov/ny-hero-act
  2. BakerHostetler, Update on the New York Hero Act: What the New York COVID-19 Worker Protection Law Means for Employers, July 21, 2021 https://www.jdsupra.com/post/contentViewerEmbed.aspx?fid=9e143772-736e-4795-b459-cad323c04fea
  3. Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, New York Hero Act Employers Need to Act by August 5th, August 4 2021 https://www.jdsupra.com/post/contentViewerEmbed.aspx?fid=02fad279-bc18-45d4-b3d3-3895fe71133a

Fire Extinguishers in China

In March I took a trip to China, visiting Shanghai and Beijing. But of course I had my safety hat on and I just had to share this with everyone.  As we were walking around the forbidden city we kept seeing these large bowls. Some tourist were even rubbing them, (I must admit I did too as I thought it brought luck) however, after doing a little reading we came to find out that these were in fact large bowls filled with water in the case of a fire! Check it out.Fire Extinguishers in China

Ergonomics at Your Workstation

Discomfort in Your Work Area

By: Sabrina Campbell Allen

With nearly 50% of Americans employed in white collar jobs, and approximately 6.1 million people working from home; office ergonomics is a necessity. According to the 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics; sprains, strains, and tears accounted for 38% of total injuries and illness cases in the work place. Furthermore, the back is the #1 body part affected by a work related injury.  The following 5 steps are quick and easy fixes to achieve a more comforting work station:


  1. Scoot In! Do yourself a favor and pull in closer.  The nearer you are to the desk, the better.  Avoid over-reaching to see the monitor or use the keyboard. You want to sit as close as possible to your desk or work area.  If you still feel yourself bending forward pull the monitor closer to you. You should be able to touch your monitor with the tip of your fingertips. The goal is for you to be able to relax with your back fully against the chair and not feel like you are chasing your monitor. You should be able to comfortably reach all of the items you use frequently, much like the illustration below.  
  1.  Sit Up Straight.  Adjust your chair so that you are sitting upright.  This will make a world of difference with how you feel and your back will definitely thank you later. Additionally, your chair should be at a height that will allow you to type without bent wrist, your wrist should be resting as flat as possible.  The best way to achieve this is to use the arm rest on the chair.  Adjust the armrest up or down to give your elbows and forearms the support it needs and deserve.   Pretty much all parts of your body should be at a 90 degree angle; back to hips; ankles to feet, and elbows. If you find that your feet are dangling a foot rest will be your friend. A footrest will also help alleviate any discomfort on the back of your thighs and legs.
  1.  Can you see? After making the above adjustments, make sure your monitor is at the right height. The rule of thumb is that the top of your monitor should be at or below eye level.  And if you are using two monitors equally, make sure that they are both directly in front of you and have an equal view.  A task light might also be helpful if you are having trouble with lighting.
  1.  Reduce Tension, Get Organized.  Have too much stuff in and around your work area?  This might be the source of some of your discomfort. Keeping your area free of unnecessary items can go a long way in your wellbeing and productivity.  The only paperwork that should be next to you are the items that you are currently working on.  Store other documents in a file holder and away from your immediate area.  Use bins to organize under desk items. Clear your desk as much as possible and give yourself room to breathe! Storage bins, big and small, are your friends; thus take advantage of them!
  1. Get Moving.  Last but certainly not least! Take breaks, it is imperative that you give your body a break. Try to get moving every 20-30 minutes.  This will help to reduce strain.  Walk to the copier, grab a drink of water, do a few stretches. Anything to ensure you aren’t in a static position hours and hours on end.  Stretching is important to reduce the chance of injury.  What do you do before going for a run? STRETCH! Therefore you shouldn’t begin your work day any different.   Here are a few easy stretches you can do before you start your day or during your micro breaks.