NYS Passes New Law Concerning Employer Standards for Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure
Governor Cuomo has signed into law A.2681-B (Reyes) / S.1034-B (Gianaris) as Chapter 105 of the Laws of 2021.
The bill demands that the New York State Department of Labor, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health, create New York’s own workplace standards for all employers on preventing occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease.
While the law does apply to dental offices, Senator Gianaris has publicly stated to NYSDA that dental offices already follow high airborne infection control standards and the law is unlikely to affect them much. He said it was aimed at those employers who do not do enough to protect their workplaces and employees. Nevertheless, it will bear watching what the Department of Labor and Department of Health come up with.
The law itself does not set any standards – it just requires that the two agencies create standards for all employers. Normally, this work would be deferred to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but OSHA never did anything other than guidelines that lacked any force of law on this subject, so New York picked up the slack. However, New York is unlikely to depart much from whatever OSHA or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines exist currently.
NYSDA will be seeking input if health care employers and/or dental settings come up during the development of the new workplace standards.