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Tuesday, 21 July 2020 23:13

Virginia Becomes First State to Adopt COVID-19 Workplace Safety Mandates

Written by Morrison Foerster, JD Supra


DOLI states the regulation is still being finalized and that training and outreach resources for employers will be provided. It is anticipated to be in effect for six months from its effective date, unless the Safety and Health Codes Board extends the regulation or repeals it earlier. Most private and public employers in Virginia will have to comply with the regulation.


New Requirements


The regulation will require employers to assess whether their workplace is at “very high,” “high,” “medium” or “lower” risk for exposure to COVID-19. The regulation provides various factors for employers to consider in assessing the risk level within their workplace, including whether the work environment is outdoors or indoors, the type of tasks being undertaken and whether there are shared spaces for employees to use. 


Employers that determine their workplace presents hazards or job tasks at the “very high,” “high” or “medium” risk levels must:


  • Provide COVID-19 related trainings to their employees within 30 days of the effective date of the regulation; and
  • Implement a written Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan within 60 days of the effective date of the regulation.


Employers that determine their workplaces are at the “low” risk level are not required to develop the response plan or provide training, but they will be required to inform their employees in writing about hazards/characteristics of COVID-19 and measures to minimize exposure. VOSH plans to develop a written information sheet for employers to use to comply with the notification requirement.


Regardless of risk level, the new regulations will require all employers to take various actions to mitigate the risk of exposure of COVID-19 in their workplaces, including: 


  • Encourage employees to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for employees to report when they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
  • Bar from the workplace employees or other persons, including customers and visitors, who have known or suspected COVID-19 cases until cleared to return to work, although employees can still telework during that period;
  • Discuss with subcontractors, temporary placement agencies and staffing firms that service the employer the importance of having their workers who are known or suspected to have COVID-19 cases to stay home and not report to work until cleared to return;
  • In accordance with law (including HIPAA and the ADA), develop and implement policies and procedures for employees to report when they have a suspected or confirmed COVID19 case; 
  • Within 24 hours of discovering a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace, inform: (a) employees and other employers’ employees who may have been exposed of their possible exposure; (b) the building owner; and (c) VOSH, while maintaining confidentiality of the infected employee in accordance with the ADA and other applicable law;
  • Notify VOSH if three or more persons present at the workplace test positive within a two-week period;
  • Develop and implement policies about return to work for known or suspected cases of COVID-19 using either a symptom-based or test-based strategy;
  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure employees observe physical distancing on the job and at paid breaks on employer’s property, including using announcements and signs to promote distancing and taking actions to decrease congregation of personnel within the workplace; 
  • Comply with respiratory and personal protective equipment standards applicable to the employer’s industry if social distancing is not possible and allow for reasonable accommodations for medical conditions;
  • Close or control access to common work areas, such as breakrooms and cafeterias;
  • Implement various sanitation measures for commonly used areas; and
  • Provide flexible sick leave, telework and staggered shifts when feasible.

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