Advocates and lawmakers who backed a measure that would require safety protocols in the workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19 urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday to give it final approval once it reaches his desk.
“As a nurse, I know how hard this last year has been for those working on the frontlines of the pandemic – worried about their health, the health of those around them and whether their work environment was a safe one," said Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, the measure's sponsor in the state Assembly. "We need to ensure that corporations, who have made billions during this pandemic provide adequate protections to their employees and frontline workers."
The bill, known as the NY Hero Act, would lay down a minimum set of safety standards and protocols for New York workplaces, such as access to personal protective equipment as well as breaks for hand washing.
“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit," said Sen. Mike Gianaris. "The New York HERO Act honors their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job."
While it has the backing of labor groups and community organizations, business entities have raised concerns with the requirements that would be placed on employers.
"While the goal of the bill is laudable, many responsible employers already follow federal safety guidelines and go to great lengths to protect their workers and customers," said Justin Wilcox, the executive director of the business-aligned Upstate United. "Rather than helping these struggling employers - many of whom have not fully reopened - Albany has added to their burden. We’ll never be able to rebuild our economy and revive our communities until Albany rejects anti-growth proposals.”
As of Thursday morning, the bill was yet to be formally sent to Cuomo's desk.