April 22, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
A new bill that aims to protect workers from contracting airborne illnesses in the workplace—such as COVID-19—passed both the New York State Senate and Assembly this week.
Businesses, under the legislation called NY Hero Act, will be required to meet minimum safety standards to reduce the risk to workers following the outbreak of such diseases. If they fail to comply, they will be hit with fines.
The Departments of Labor and Health will be tasked with establishing the standards for businesses to follow, such as determining how much personal protective equipment for employees is needed and social distancing requirements and more.
Queens-based senator Michael Gianaris was the primary sponsor in the Senate, while Karines Reyes, of the Bronx, was the primary sponsor in the Assembly. The bill is awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign it into law.
“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit,” Gianaris, the Senate Deputy Leader. “The New York HERO Act honors their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job.
State Senator Jessica Ramos, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee, was one of three Queens-based senators, alongside James Sanders Sr., who co-sponsored the bill.
“Throughout this pandemic, workers across our state have had to put their lives and the lives of their families at risk to keep New York running,” said Ramos. “It’s our turn to take care of them.”
The Queens-based legislators who co-sponsored the bill in the Assembly are Stacey Pheffer Amato, Nily Rozic, Zohran Mamdani, Brian Barnwell, Andrew Hevesi, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Catalina Cruz, Catherine Nolan, Jenifer Rajkumar and Daniel Rosenthal.
Among the labor unions, community and safety organizations supporting the bill are AFL-CIO, CWA District 1, New York State Nurses Association and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.