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As all industries continue to navigate the workplace changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations continue to enforce laws aimed at protecting employees who, as part of their jobs, must engage in activities in which the transmission of infection disease is likely possible. 

In 2021, the state of New York implemented the NY HERO Act, which aims to protect the employees who continue to work under dangerous or risky conditions. 


  • What Is the NY Hero Act?
  • The Importance of Workforce Safety and Emergency Prevention
  • Infectious Disease Prevention Through Commercial HVAC

What Is the NY Hero Act?

On May 5, 2021, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, otherwise known as the NY HERO Act, was signed into law in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which requires nearly all private employers in the state of New York to adopt workplace health and safety measures to protect employees against exposure and infection during a declared airborne disease outbreak. 

Governor Kathy Hochul classified COVID-19 as an airborne infectious illness on September 6, 2021, enacting the formal activation of the HERO Act. The New York Department of Labor (DOL) announced updated model plans two weeks later, on September 23, 2021, which serve as important resources for organizations in the establishment and enforcement of prevention plans for their own workplaces. 

The Importance of Workforce Safety and Emergency Prevention

During an airborne infectious disease outbreak, workplace health and safety plans aim to keep employees safe from exposure and disease transmission.

Having been designated a highly contagious disease by the New York State Commissioner of Health, COVID-19 has been determined to pose a serious risk to public health. As such, the health and safety measures necessitated by the HERO Act require employers to distribute written workplace safety plans to all employees, as well as post the written plans in prominent, visible locations at each worksite and provide verbal reviews of the plans to all employees.

Infectious Disease Prevention Through Commercial HVAC

The prevention of infectious disease in the workplace can be facilitated by the effective air quality improvement abilities of a wide range of commercial HVAC solutions. The NY HERO Act references a number of safety measures that contribute to healthier workplaces, which can be achieved through commercial HVAC installations, modifications, and maintenance. 

During an outbreak period, employers should ensure that measures have been established for the following elements as part of their workplace health and safety plans:

  • Sufficient building ventilation, as well as dedicated ventilation systems for high-traffic or core operational areas
  • Increased natural air flow and decreased air recirculation
  • Strategic fan placement
  • Installation of higher-efficiency air filters and/or air handling systems
  • Installation of automatic disinfection systems, such as germicidal UV solutions
  • Implementation of air and surface sterilization systems 

Through the implementation of these commercial HVAC strategies and the establishment of HERO Act-compliant health and safety plans, organizations can better protect their employees against COVID-19.

For more information about the commercial HVAC solutions that may be right for your business, contact the Donnelly team today

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