May 15 marked the end of NY Pause and the beginning of NY Forward, the Governor’s Plan (the Plan) to gradually reopen the State. The Plan reopens the State economy on a regional and industry by industry basis. When the reopening begins for each region depends on each region’s ability to meet a series of criteria. Businesses throughout the state have been anxiously monitoring developments to see when they can reopen the doors. To facilitate this inquiry, the State has created a New York Forward Business Reopening Lookup Tool, which allows businesses to input their location and NAICS code to find out when they’ll be allowed to reopen.
But reopening is of course not as simple flipping over the front door sign and switching on the lights. One easily overlooked aspect of properly reopening any business will be instituting a formal Health and Safety Plan. The State has provided template plans specific to each industry, available here. But entities should be modifying these templates to correspond with the particularities of their specific operations. Each business Health and Safety Plan is required to have four basic elements, represented by the helpfully apropos acronym PLAN:
Protections for employees and customers:
May include things like providing appropriate PPE to employees, spacing out shift or break times, frequent disinfecting, social distancing protocols, restricting non-essential travel for employees, etc.
Layout: changes to the physical workspace:
Making alterations to the structure and use of physical plant and equipment, things such as directing foot traffic into one-way zones throughout the workplace, restricting access to public spaces, and distributing signage and hand sanitizer throughout the workplace.
Adaptive health protocols:
May include health screenings, temperature checks, or health/symptom questionnaires. Employers are advised to create a plan for internal contact tracing. Per State Guidance, health data shouldn’t be permanently stored or shared among employees.
Put the Health and Safety Plan in writing (or digital writing).
All businesses and other entities are required by the state to have a Health and Safety Plan and to complete, certify, and submit an affirmation to the state that such a plan exists, including those previously designated as “essential.” In the affirmation, each entity will be required to acknowledge that it read and understood the guidance and understands its obligation to comply with it.The Health and Safety Plan must be retained by the business on site and capable of being made available to the State Department of Health upon request. It does not have to be submitted to the State for approval. State FAQs indicated that all entities are required to comply and that waivers will not be issued.
We are closely monitoring all NY Forward guidance and will continue to keep you updated. If you have questions about the Plan or would like assistance tailoring a Health and Safety Plan to your specific operation, one of our attorneys can assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact the Wladis Law Firm. We will do our best to provide you with updates and will be available to answer questions as circumstances change. We may be reached at (315) 445-1700 or by e-mailing your everyday firm contacts.
Christopher J. Baiamonte
Mr. Baiamonte concentrates his practice primarily on civil litigation. He counsels individual, corporate, and municipal clients on resolving disputes ranging from environmental liability to shareholders rights to creditor–debtor suits. He also works with clients to navigate various state and federal regulations relating to areas such as environmental protection, employment, and civil rights.