New York State Veterinary Medical Society
Some members asked if the new HERO Act requirements mean that you need to return to curbside check-in for all clients.
The HERO Act is to protect employees. While you might decide that curbside is the best way for your hospital to keep employees safe, the regulations provide a range of other options..
The HERO Act requires you to have a plan in place that meets the minimum standards set by the the emergency regulations Chapter XI 12 NYCRR
§ 840.1 Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard.
This sets the following standard for everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated:
"B.ii. Face Coverings:
The employer shall require that employees wear appropriate face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained and in accordance with applicable guidance from State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable.
B.iii. Physical Distancing
Physical distancing shall be used, when possible, to keep employees at least six feet apart from other individuals or as recommended by State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable during a disease outbreak."
NY State has issued a template plan for retail operations, and suggested options for when "where prolonged close contact with other individuals is likely". The list of possible options includes "restricting entry, limiting occupancy, physical barriers and curbside pickup". So it is up to you to decide how best to meet the HERO Act safety standards, although we will notify you if we hear anything to the contrary.
The HERO Act does not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. You need to meet the minimum standard for all employees.
1. Download the NYSVMS sample template plan, or use the Department of Labor template
2. Take note that there are very few sections for you to complete - and our template gives you suggestions about how to complete them.
3. If you use our suggestions- it shouldn't take long to complete the template
4. Make sure all your employees know about the plan by holding a team meeting and provide them with a copy. Also make sure that it is displayed in a prominent place.
The HERO Act may feel like an unnecessary administrative burden for you, after you have already guided your business and employees safely through 18 months of danger.
However the HERO Act has been introduced to protect employees, and the Department of Labor will be gearing up to follow-up on complaints received by employees who do not feel their employer has met the safety standards, and those who do complain are legally protected against retaliation.
However it shouldn't take you long to complete your hospital's safety plan, and we provide a quick start guide - see "Quick Way to be a HERO" below.
On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. This designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans.
You can read more details on the NY Department of Labor Site.
During August we sent out a template and said that the plan had to be ready to roll by September 5th. If you followed those steps, all you need to do now is to make sure you follow the plan, distribute the plan to all staff and display it in a prominent place at your worksite.
If you need to catch up with any of these steps, you can follow our "Quick Way to be a HERO" below.