Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (NYS HERO Act)

Section: Work Environment
Policy Number: 812
Responsible Office: Human Resources, General Counsel, Environmental Health and Safety
Effective Date: 8/5/21
Revised: 9/7/21; 3/17/22

The purpose of this plan is to protect employees against exposure and disease during an airborne infectious disease outbreak. This plan goes into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.

This plan is subject to any additional or greater requirements arising from a declaration of a state of emergency due to an airborne infectious disease, as well as any applicable federal standards. Employees should report any questions or concerns with the implementation of this plan to the designated contact.

This plan applies to all “employees” as defined by the New York State HERO Act, which means any person providing labor or services for remuneration for a private entity or business within the state, without regard to an individual’s immigration status, and shall include part-time workers, independent contractors, domestic workers, home care and personal care workers, day laborers, farmworkers and other temporary and seasonal workers.

The term also includes individuals working for digital applications or platforms, staffing agencies, contractors or subcontractors on behalf of the employer at any individual work site, as well as any individual delivering goods or transporting people at, to or from the work site on behalf of the employer, regardless of whether delivery or transport is conducted by an individual or entity that would otherwise be deemed an employer under this chapter. The term does not include employees or independent contractors of the state, any political subdivision of the state, a public authority, or any other governmental agency or instrumentality.

Table of Contents

I. Responsibilities
II. Exposure Controls During a Designated Outbreak
III. Housekeeping During a Designated Outbreak
IV. Infection Response During a Designated Outbreak
V. Training and Information During a Designated Outbreak
VI. Plan Evaluations During a Designated Outbreak
VII. Retaliation Protections and Reporting of Any Violations

I. RESPONSIBILITIES

This plan applies to all employees of St. John's University, and the following work sites:

8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, New York 11439
300 Howard Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10301
101 Astor Place, New York, New York 10003

This plan requires commitment to ensure compliance with all plan elements aimed at preventing the spread of infectious disease. The following supervisory employee(s) are designated to enforce compliance with the plan. Additionally, these supervisory employees will act as the designated contacts unless otherwise noted in this plan:

Name

Title

Location

Phone

Colleen Greaney, Ph.D.Director of Environmental Health and SafetySt. Albert Hall, Rm G-020718-990-1348

II. EXPOSURE CONTROLS DURING A DESIGNATED OUTBREAK

A. MINIMUM CONTROLS DURING AN OUTBREAK

During an airborne infectious disease outbreak, the following minimum controls will be used in all areas of the worksite:

  1. General Awareness: Individuals may not be aware that they have the infectious disease and can spread it to others. Employees should remember to:
    • Maintain physical distancing;
    • Exercise coughing/sneezing etiquette;
    • Wear face coverings, gloves, and personal protective equipment (PPE), as appropriate;
    • Individuals limit what they touch;
    • Stop social etiquette behaviors such as hugging and hand shaking, and
    • Wash hands properly and often.
  2. “Stay at Home Policy”: If an employee develops symptoms of the infectious disease, the employee should not be in the workplace. The employee should inform the designated contact and follow New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding obtaining medical care and isolating.
  3. Health Screening: Employees will be screened for symptoms of the infectious disease at the beginning of their shift. Employees are to self-monitor throughout their shift and report any new or emerging signs or symptoms of the infectious disease to the designated contact. An employee showing signs or symptoms of the infectious disease should be removed from the workplace and should contact a healthcare professional for instructions. The health screening elements will follow guidance from NYSDOH and CDC guidance, if available.
  4. Face Coverings: To protect coworkers, employees will wear face coverings throughout the workday to the greatest extent possible. Face coverings and physical distancing should be used together whenever possible. The face covering must cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly, but comfortably, against the face. The face covering itself must not create a hazard, e.g. have features could get caught in machinery or cause severe fogging of eyewear. The face coverings must be kept clean and sanitary and changed when soiled, contaminated, or damaged.
  5. Physical Distancing: Physical distancing will be followed as much as feasible. Avoid unnecessary gatherings and maintain a distance of at least six feet (or as recommended by the NYSDOH/CDC for the infectious agent) from each other. Use a face covering when physical distance cannot be maintained

    In situations where prolonged close contact with other individuals is likely, use the following control methods:
    • restricting or limiting customer or visitor entry;
    • limiting occupancy;
    • allowing only one person at a time inside small enclosed spaces with poor ventilation;
    • reconfiguring workspaces;
    • physical barriers;
    • signage;
    • floor markings;
    • telecommuting;
    • remote meetings;
    • preventing gatherings;
    • restricting travel;
    • creating new work shifts and/or staggering work hours;
    • adjusting break times and lunch periods;
    • delivering services remotely or through curb-side pickup.
       
  6. Hand Hygiene: To prevent the spread of infection, employees should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands BEFORE and AFTER:
    • Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth;
    • Touching your mask;
    • Entering and leaving a public place; and
    • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens.

Because hand sanitizers are less effective on soiled hands, wash hands rather than using hand sanitizer when your hands are soiled.

  1. Cleaning and Disinfection: See Section V of this plan.
  2. “Respiratory Etiquette”: Because infectious diseases can be spread by droplets expelled from the mouth and nose, employees should exercise appropriate respiratory etiquette by covering nose and mouth when sneezing, coughing or yawning.
  3. Special Accommodations for Individuals with Added Risk Factors: Some employees, due to age, underlying health condition, or other factors, may be at increased risk of severe illness if infected. Please inform the HR Benefits department if you fall within this group and need an accommodation. Contact Benefits at (718) 990-2362 or email [email protected]

B. ADVANCED CONTROLS DURING AN OUTBREAK

For activities where the Minimum Controls alone will not provide sufficient protection for employees, additional controls from the following hierarchy may be necessary. Employers should determine if the following are necessary:

  1. Elimination: St. John's University should consider the temporary suspension or elimination of risky activities where adequate controls could not provide sufficient protection for employees. Examples include:
    • Limiting or eliminating in-person learning,
    • Limiting gatherings by location (outdoors), and scale
    • Limiting or eliminating in-person recreational and/or sporting events.
  2. Engineering Controls: St. John's University should consider appropriate controls to contain and/or remove the infectious agent, prevent the agent from being spread, or isolate the worker from the infectious agent. Examples of engineering controls include:
    • Mechanical Ventilation such as local exhaust ventilation, for example:
      • Local duct
    • General Ventilation, for example:
      • Increasing the percentage of fresh air introduced into air handling systems;
      • Avoiding air recirculation;
      • Utilize air filters with rating of Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 or higher, if compatible with the HVAC system(s). If MERV–13 or higher filters are not compatible with the HVAC system(s), use filters with the highest compatible filtering efficiency for the HVAC system(s);
      • If fans are used in the facility, arrange them so that air does not blow directly from one worker to another. Remove personal fans as necessary, but keep heat hazards in mind and address in other methods, if appropriate; 
      • Air purifiers.
    • Natural Ventilation, for example:
      • Opening outside windows and doors; and
      • Opening windows on one side of the room to let fresh air in and installing window exhaust fans on the opposite side of the room so that they exhaust air
    • Automatic disinfection systems such as ultraviolet light disinfection
    • Install cleanable barriers such as partitions and clear plastic sneeze/cough
    • Establish entry to building protocols that are contactless
    • Install hand washing or sanitizing stations throughout facility

Subject to changes based on operations and circumstances surrounding the infectious disease, engineering controls that are anticipated to be used are listed in the following table:

Engineering Controls Utilized/Location:

St. John's will consider the utilization of additional engineering controls based on operations and circumstances.

3. “Administrative Controls” are policies and work rules used to prevent exposure. Examples include:

  • Increasing the space between employees and students;
  • Disinfecting procedures for specific operations;
  • Employee training;
  • Identify and prioritize job functions that are essential for continuous operations;
  • Cross-train employees to ensure critical operations can continue during worker absence;
  • Limit the use of shared workstations;
  • Close break rooms;
  • Prohibiting eating and drinking in the work area;
  • Do not utilize drinking fountains;
  • Post signs reminding of respiratory etiquette, masks, hand hygiene;
  • Rearrange traffic flow to allow for one-way walking paths;
  • Provide clearly designated entrance and exits;
  • Provide additional short breaks for handwashing and cleaning;
  • Establishing pods or cohorts of staff and students to limit exposure;
  • Minimize elevator use, post signage of limitations;
  • Increase time between classes to allow for cleaning and ventilation;
  • Utilize remote learning methods;
  • Require health screening of students upon entry to facilities; and
  • Limit attendance of in-person meetings. Host the meetings outdoors or electronically.

Subject to changes based on operations and circumstances surrounding the infectious disease, the following specific administrative controls are anticipated to be used:

Administrative Controls Utilized/Location:

St. John's anticipates the utilization of all of the administrative controls listed in No. 3 above.

4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are devices like eye protection, face shields, respirators, and gloves that protect the wearer from infection. PPE will be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition at no cost to the employee. The PPE provided to an employee will be based on a hazard assessment for the workplace. The PPE that are anticipated to be used are in the following table:

PPE Required- Activity Involved/Location:

Surgical masks, gloves, face coverings, and/or respirators.

1 The use of respiratory protection, e.g. an N95 filtering face piece respirator, requires compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134 or temporary respiratory protection requirements OSHA allows for during the infectious disease outbreak.

2 Respirators with exhalation valves will release exhaled droplets from the respirators. Respirators are designed to protect the wearer. Surgical masks and face coverings, which are not respirators, are designed to protect others, not the wearer.

C. EXPOSURE CONTROL READINESS, MAINTENANCE AND STORAGE

The controls we have selected will be obtained, properly stored, and maintained so that they are ready for immediate use in the event of an infectious disease outbreak and any applicable expiration dates will be properly considered.

III. HOUSEKEEPING DURING A DESIGNATED OUTBREAK

A. Disinfection Methods and Schedules

Objects that are touched repeatedly by multiple individuals, such as door handles, light switches, control buttons/levers, dials, levers, water faucet handles, computers, phones, or handrails must be cleaned frequently with an appropriate disinfectant. Surfaces that are handled less often, or by fewer individuals, may require less frequent disinfection. The disinfection methods and schedules selected are based on specific workplace conditions.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have compiled lists of approved disinfectants that are effective against many infectious agents (see dec.ny.gov and epa.gov/pesticide-registration/selected-epa-registered-disinfectants). Select disinfectants based on NYSDOH and CDC guidance and follow manufacturer guidance for methods, dilution, use, and contact time.

B. Adjustments to Normal Housekeeping Procedures

Normal housekeeping duties and schedules should continue to be followed during an infectious disease outbreak, to the extent practicable and appropriate consistent with NYSDOH and/or CDC guidance in effect at the time.However, routine procedures may need to be adjusted and additional cleaning and disinfecting may be required.

Housekeeping staff may be at increased risk because they may be cleaning many potentially contaminated surfaces. Some housekeeping activities, like dry sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting, can resuspend into the air particles that are contaminated with the infectious agent. For that reason, alternative methods and/or increased levels of protection may be needed.

Rather than dusting, for example, the CDC recommends cleaning surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them. Conducting housekeeping during “off” hours may also reduce other workers’ exposures to the infectious agent. Best practice dictates that housekeepers should wear respiratory protection. See cdc.gov for more guidance.

C. If an employee develops symptoms of the infectious disease at work, it is ideal to isolate the area in accordance with guidance issued by NYSDOH or the CDC, before cleaning and disinfecting the sick employee’s work This delay will allow contaminated droplets to settle out of the air and the space to be ventilated.

D. As feasible, liners should be used in trash containers. Empty the containers often enough to prevent overfilling. Do not forcefully squeeze the air out of the trash bags before tying them closed. Trash containers may contain soiled tissue or face coverings.

IV. INFECTION RESPONSE DURING A DESIGNATED OUTBREAK

If an actual, or suspected, infectious disease case occurs at work, take the following actions:

  • Instruct the sick individual to wear a face covering and leave the worksite and follow NYSDOH/CDC guidance.
  • Follow local and state authority guidance to inform impacted individuals.

V. TRAINING AND INFORMATION DURING A DESIGNATED OUTBREAK

A. The Office of Human Resources will verbally inform all employees of the existence and location of this Plan, the circumstances it can be activated, the infectious disease standard, employer policies, and employee rights under the HERO Act. 

B. When this plan is activated, all personnel will receive training which will cover all elements of this plan and the following topics:

  1. The infectious agent and the disease(s) it can cause;
  2. The signs and symptoms of the disease;
  3. How the disease can be spread;
  4. An explanation of this Exposure Prevention Plan;
  5. The activities and locations at our worksite that may involve exposure to the infectious agent;
  6. The use and limitations of exposure controls;
  7. A review of the standard, including employee rights provided under Labor Law, Section 218-B.

C. The training will be:

  1. Provided at no cost to employees and take place during working hours. If training during normal work hours is not possible, employees will be compensated for the training time (with pay or time off);
  2. Appropriate in content and vocabulary to your educational level, literacy, and preferred language; and
  3. Verbally provided in person or through telephonic, electronic, or other means.

VI. PLAN EVALUATIONS DURING A DESIGNATED OUTBREAK

St. John's University will review and revise the plan periodically, upon activation of the plan, and as often as needed to keep up-to-date with current requirements. Plan revisions will be documented below:

Plan Revision History

Date

Participants

Major Changes

Approved By

7/29/2021

Office of Human Resources

Development of plan

 

Office of General Counsel

  

Dept. of Env. Health & Safety

  

VII. RETALIATION PROTECTIONS AND REPORTING OF ANY VIOLATIONS

No employer, or his or her agent, or person, acting as or on behalf of a hiring entity, or the officer or agent of any entity, business, corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, shall discriminate, threaten, retaliate against, or take adverse action against any employee for exercising their rights under this plan, including reporting conduct the employee reasonably believes in good faith violates the plan or airborne infectious disease concerns to their employer, government agencies or officials or for refusing to work where an employee reasonably believes in good faith that such work exposes him or her, other workers, or the public to an unreasonable risk of exposure, provided the employee, another employee, or representative has notified the employer verbally or in writing, including electronic communication, of the inconsistent working conditions and the employer’s failure to cure or if the employer knew or should have known of the consistent working conditions.

Notification of a violation by an employee may be made verbally or in writing, and without limitation to format including electronic communications. To the extent that communications between the employer and employee regarding a potential risk of exposure are in writing, they shall be maintained by the employer for two years after the conclusion of the designation of a high risk disease from the Commissioner of Health, or two years after the conclusion of the Governor’s emergency declaration of a high risk disease. Employer should include contact information to report violations of this plan and retaliation during regular business hours and for weekends/other non-regular business hours when employees may be working.