Are You Ready to Reopen? Regulatory Requirements for All NYS Businesses
New York has been the hardest hit state by the coronavirus pandemic, and yet it is making great strides to open back up to what will now be considered the "new normal." The state has been working diligently, strategically, and carefully to allow local businesses across the state to open back up through a phased approach, organized by region. As several regions are in phase 2 or just moving into phase 2, businesses are faced with redefining what operations will look like as new regulatory requirements have been released for New York.
Several regulatory agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as the New York State Department of Health (DOH) have announced new requirements for businesses to adhere to before reopening. Businesses looking to avoid regulatory non-compliance and ensure a smooth and safe transition into reopening must demonstrate they are aware of and compliant with all applicable new regulatory guidance.
The DOH now requires all businesses to develop and implement a COVID-19 Reopening Safety Plan. This is a requirement for both essential and non-essential businesses in all regions of New York State. The Safety Plan must be site-specific, up-to-date, and retained on the premises of the business. In the event of an inspection, the Safety Plan is subject to review by the DOH or local health and safety authorities (OSHA). OSHA has announced that they plan to increase workplace inspections in response to COVID-19.
Your COVID-19 Reopening Safety Plan:
- Be specific to your business operations and kept up to date as your business operations evolve
- Include best practices developed by the business to adequately protect people from potential COVID-19 exposure
- Address hygiene practices, equipment, and communication required to limit COVID-19 exposure
- Outline a detailed safety process including screening, decontamination, and any other elements necessary for your business to protect people from contracting COVID-19
Additionally, the Safety Plan must be fully implemented as a part of the business operational flow. If your business has several locations, a site-specific safety plan will need to be customized for each location.
Many businesses will need to submit an affirmation that they have read and understood the new DOH guidelines to New York State. The DOH confirmed they will not be issuing waivers for businesses that cannot fully comply with the guidance. In addition, OSHA can review the Safety Plans and issue citations under their General Duty Clause, requiring employers to provide a safe workplace for their workers.
In response to COVID-19, businesses must ensure they are familiar and compliant with:
- Industry-specific reopening guidelines
- DOH Reopening Safety Plan documentation and operational requirements
- OSHA COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements
- Regulations and regulatory guidance as it continues to evolve
As you navigate reopening your business, understanding these requirements and ensuring you are compliant can be overwhelming. Many have found it helpful to work with an Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) expert. Bringing in an EH&S consultant allows you to develop your reopening plan that will address all requirements on initial implementation, provides a safe workplace for your team, avoids regulatory citations, and greatly reduces the potential for public notification of business non-compliance.
At Triumvirate Environmental we have been providing sustainable environmental, health, and safety solutions for over 30 years and have been leveraging our experience to support organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To discuss your specific needs with a consultant, click the link below and we’ll get back to you promptly, or call us directly at 888-834-9697.