Recently, Governor Cuomo passed legislation (S8617B/A10832) that will require all public employers to create plans to adequately protect workers in the event of another state disaster emergency involving a communicable disease. The plans would apply to both the state and localities, including school districts. Plans must be submitted to unions and labor management committees with 150 days (roughly by February 1, 2021) and plans need to be finalized on April 1, 2021.
The plans are intended to protect public workers at all levels of government, from a future pandemic and the health crisis conditions it may pose to the state. The plans will include protections for essential workers and protocols for securing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
According to the legislation, Operation Plans must include the following information, at a minimum:
- List and description of positions considered essential
- Descriptions of protocols to follow to enable all non-essential employees to work remotely
- Description of how employers would stagger work shifts to reduce overcrowding
- Protocols for PPE
- Protocol for when an employee is exposed to disease
- Protocol for documenting hours and work locations for essential workers
- Protocol for working with essential employees' localities for identifying emergency housing if needed
- Any other requirement determined by the New York State Department of Health, such as testing and contact tracing
The majority of these above points have, most likely, already been discussed and instituted at your municipality or school district, in which case they would have to be re-visited and placed into document-form for your plan. Although NYS has not yet produced a model template for local governments and school districts to utilize, there are some sample planning resources available to assist in this process and at a minimum, provide guidance on what to include in your Operation Plan.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) - https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/planning-preparedness/state-local-government-planning.html
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1396880633531-5405f61d483668155492a7cccd1600b/Pandemic_Influenza_Template.pdf
NYS Department of Health (DOH) - https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYS_BusinessReopeningSafetyPlanTemplate.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0-ccsUuOmhCm9UlQNtdz8ufxdPtQFXzKUpSiSzf9Ie9vv4hZumc-BUlyI
The Comp Alliance will keep members up-to-date on developments related to these Operation Plans from NYS – if/when sample templates are available from NYS, if any new requirements are necessary, if timelines change, etc. Our Risk Management department will provide assistance where we can, in an effort at reducing workplace injuries and exposures during a future communicable disease pandemic crisis.