Business groups urge caution in rollout of COVID workplace law – Spectrum News

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Two dozen business organizations on Thursday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul’s new administration to be cautious in rolling out a new law meant to add safety measures to workplaces in New York meant to stop the spread of illnesses like COVID-19. 

The NY Hero Act has been backed by labor unions as a necessary step to helping workers remain healthy in workplaces and job sites as more people return to work and as the highly contagious delta variant leads to a spike in COVID cases. 

But business organizations, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses in New York, pointed to the onerous regulations and costs associated with implementing the law and the potential exposure to lawsuits, especially for smaller employers. 

“There is absolutely no reason to trigger the implementation of the NY HERO Act other than aiding unscrupulous trial lawyers looking to line their pockets at the expense of small businesses,” said Ashley Ranslow, the NFIB’s assistant state director. 

The letter from the business groups was released days after labor unions and state lawmakers urged Hochul to begin putting regulations in place to enact the measure, which requires job sites and workplaces to have personal protective equipment, social distancing measures and proper hygiene controls to prevent the spread of illnesses like the coronavirus. 

But putting many of those changes in place can be costly for businesses, which have already struggled for more than a year of uncertainty and disruption, Ranslow said. 

“Reinstating COVID-era restrictions would be the nail in the coffin for many small businesses that have fought desperately to keep their businesses afloat and employees working. Recovery is still a long way away and small businesses and the state’s economy cannot afford to take a step backward with capacity restrictions and strict and costly protocols,” she said. “With a safe, effective, and FDA-approved vaccine available, businesses should remain open.”