Governor Andrew Cuomo will soon vote on stricter regulation of airborne infectious diseases for businesses.
The state assembly on Tuesday passed A.2681B by a 95 to 55 vote. Both members of the assemblies Goodell, R-Jamestown and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voted against the bill. The state Senate approved a companion bill on March 1 by a vote of 46-16. State Senator George Borrello voted against the bill.
Sponsored by MP Karines Reyes, D-Bronx, the state labor commissioner, in consultation with the state health department, would create an infectious disease exposure prevention standard that all private employers should respect.
The law also authorizes the creation of employer-employee occupational health and safety committees for companies with more than 10 employers.
Reyes wrote that there is no existing state or federal law protecting workers from exposure to airborne infectious diseases in the workplace, although there are several New York executive orders and regulations that set guidelines Guidelines protecting workers against airborne infectious diseases, they do not cover all industries or all workers. Goodell seized the executive orders Reyes mentioned while explaining his opposition to the bill.
“This bill says that after a year of arbitrary rulings destroyed thousands and thousands of small businesses, let’s allow the Ministry of Labor to come up with almost limitless requirements that affect everything, including compliance with applicable technical controls such as ventilation by air flow in copper and others. special requirements, ”Goodell said. “And if you don’t, it’s a minimum fine of $ 1,000. This is not the right message at the moment. This is not the right approach at the moment. “
Reyes’ legislative memorandum accused the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration of failing to create a standard for airborne infectious diseases and of creating guidelines that cannot be enforced. In the assembly, Reyes said Republicans were spreading disinformation about his bill.
“There was some misinformation and I urge my colleagues to read the legislation again,” Reyes said. “I want to thank all the defenders and all the unions and workers who drafted this bill with me and who have supported so many people on the front lines. I want to thank them for their advocacy and support and I will vote for that, Mr. Speaker.
According to the text of the legislation, state labor and health commissioners will create the model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard for all work sites, with different standards for different industries. The standard may include guidelines for employee health examinations, face covers, required personal protective equipment that will be paid for by employers; accessible hand hygiene stations in the workplace and the time to use them; regular cleaning of shared equipment, frequently touched surfaces and all washable surfaces and items in common areas; effective social distancing for employees and consumers; compliance with mandatory or preventive isolation or quarantine orders that have been issued to employees; and compliance with applicable engineering controls such as appropriate air flow, exhaust ventilation, or other special design requirements.
“The first thing I would like to emphasize is that this bill is not limited to COVID”, said MP Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston Spa. “It’s kind of like another one of those bills we’ve seen this session masquerading as a COVID bill, but it really applies to a lot more than COVID and it’s not limited in time. This will be the rule from which it will become law. I think, as one of my colleagues alluded to, that business is at a tipping point right now and the passage of legislation like this is very inappropriate. We all want to keep employees and the general public safe, and outside of that group, employers want to do it. I think one of the things that bothers me that got me to stand up and talk about it is that I think there’s a trend in some of the bills we’ve seen that really attribute the worst absolute to employers, as they don’t care. … I was thinking of Ronald Reagan, because, as he put it, “the most terrifying words in the English language are I am from the government and I am here to help”. When I look at this bill, this is what I think of. It’s just one more burdensome regulation of our business community on top of OSHA on top of what companies are already doing.
State officials have the power to investigate employers and have the ability to impose a civil penalty of at least $ 50 per day, at least $ 1,000 and not over $ 10,000 for failing to follow the airborne infectious disease plan. Employers who violated the plan in the previous six years could face a fine of $ 200 per day if they do not adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan of at least $ 1,000 and up to $ 20,000 if they do not meet the conditions. an airborne infectious disease exposure plan.
“Mr. President, this has certainly been a lively debate”, Reyes said. “I have heard many of my colleagues say that now is not the time for us to do something like this that will hurt businesses, but I argue that there is no better time to protect the life of our workers, our communities and our industries. They would not survive without employees. I heard someone say it was fear rhetoric, and I assure you it is not fear rhetoric. Fear is the look in my patients’ eyes just before we intubate them. It is fear. Fear of dying from COVID. It is fear. And COVID is real. And people are dying, absolutely, every day, unless we do something to protect our communities – not just our workers and our industries. And we want to protect these good employers, because there are employers who do well with their workers because they care about their lives. They care about the lives of their workers. They care about the communities in which they find themselves. Employers in these communities who do not do well by their workers are putting everyone’s lives at risk and putting our economy at risk. And we want to make sure we’re tackling the wrong actors.