On July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Code Board passed the Emergency Temporary Standard, Infectious Disease Prevention, to take effect July 27, 2020.
By August 26
, most Virginia employers must provide employees with job-specific education and training on preventing transmission of COVID-19 (Virginia Dept.of Labor and Industry
). The new training requirement applies to employers with hazards or job tasks classified in the regulation as "very high", "high", or "medium" exposure levels.
For details on the COVID-19 training requirements, see 16 VAC 25-220-80.
Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plans
In addition to providing COVID-19 for employees, the new regulations require employers with "very high", "high", or "medium" risk exposure levels to create an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Reponse Plan, and train employees on the plan (with some exceptions).
The Plan and employee training on the Plan must be completed by September 25, 2020, i.e. sixty days after the effective date of July 27 (16 VAC 25-220-70).
View the complete guidelines.
The Virginia State Safety and Health Code Board has voted to create workplace safety regulations surrounding COVID-19, citing the thousands of comments
received concerning social distancing and mask violations and a lack of Federal enforcement.
The board revealed the draft of State regulations at a virtual presentation on June 24 and approved advancing the regulations in a 9-3 vote. The emergency temporary standard was drafted by the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, under the Governor’s direction, in late May. The board is expected to amend and finalize the standard in the coming days.
The current draft of Virginia’s standard requires employers to develop policies for workers dealing with coronavirus-like symptoms, while prohibiting those workers suspected of having the coronavirus from showing up to work. According to the Washington Post, these rules would compel companies to alert workers of possible exposure
to infected co-workers within 24 hours, while also mandating physical distancing, sanitation, disinfection, and hand-washing procedures.
When asked about the draft regulations, the Governor’s office cited a lack of Federal enforcement from OSHA. Most of OSHA’s coronavirus standards are guidelines, which carry fewer legal ramifications than Virginia’s standard. If enacted, employers who fail to comply with the draft rules could face up to $124,000 in fines and a potential business closure.
Virginia’s Standard Faces Harsh Criticism
Many businesses and employer organizations issued concerns over the new draft rules, calling them “one size fits all”
that do not work across all industries. Many businesses also said they were worried that the new rules could add a greater financial burden
during an already economically strenuous time.
The poultry industry in particular played a central role in the discussions. The City of Harrisonburg pledged its support for the measure, citing over 300 poultry workers
in the area contracting the virus. However, the Virginia Poultry Federation
opposed the measures, noting that existing guidelines from the CDC and OSHA are sufficient.
Convenient, Online OSHA Safety Training
Industry professionals worldwide are turning to online training to keep operations on track and protect employees. Lion’s online OSHA courses
can help ensure your workers know their responsibilities, even when your team is spread out across multiple locations.
Lion’s most popular OSHA courses:
10-Hour OSHA General Industry
(in English or Spanish)
Personal Protective Equipment
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