May 28, 2020
As business leaders around New York State plan for phased reopening over the next several weeks, Governor Cuomo has issued general and industry-specific guidance on the safety measures employers will be required to implement in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and community.
All businesses, including essential businesses that have continued to operate during NY Pause, are required to develop a written safety plan outlining concrete steps they will take to ensure that their employees comply with mandated safety measures related to COVID-19. A template plan is available here. The safety plan does not have to be submitted for approval by any agency, but must be retained on site and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.
The safety plan requires that employers document how they will enforce specific rules relating to physical distancing, the wearing of protective equipment such as face coverings, and disinfection and hygiene in the workplace. Employers must also document how they will implement mandatory health screening assessments (e.g. questionnaires, temperature checks) for all employees before they begin work each day and for essential visitors. Other requirements for businesses include the maintenance of a continuous log of every person, including workers and visitors, who may have close contact with other individuals at the workplace, subject to certain exclusions for contactless deliveries and customers. Employers also have reporting obligations under NY Forward and must immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
As NY Forward progresses in phases, employers should expect additional industry-specific guidance that may require heightened safety standards and more detailed safety plans and are advised to monitor the NY Forward website for more information. Currently, guidelines for Phase One industries (construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, curbside retail, manufacturing, and wholesale trade) are available on the website, and we expect that guidelines for Phase Two and Phase Three industries will be available soon.