State Lawmakers Approve NY HERO Act
New York lawmakers this week passed legislation mandating extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID crisis. The New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or NY HERO Act, sponsored by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblywoman Karines Reyes (D-Bronx), calls for fines against businesses that fail to adopt and enact new standards to protect workers and stem the spread of Coronavirus or other airborne diseases.
The bill directs the Department of Labor to issue airborne infectious disease standards for businesses that will include protocols on testing, face masks, personal protective equipment, social distancing and other measures. The standards will be crafted by industry-specific worker committees, and the bill also includes strong anti-retaliation provisions that allow workers to call out employers without fear of reprisal.
"Every day working people have gone above and beyond to carry us through the pandemic, and for too many of them the cost has been their own health and even death," said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. "The least we can do as a state is help ensure that their employers take every reasonable measure necessary to keep them safe on the job. This pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in workplace safety. The NY HERO Act changes that by ensuring workers have a safe working environment now, and just as important, for future communicable disease events." Read more about the HERO Act in the NY Daily News.