July 16, 2020

Virginia Adopts Emergency Workplace Safety Standards for COVID-19 Pandemic

The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board has adopted emergency temporary standards intended to help protect workers in the state from the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID‐19. The new standards—the first of their kind in the United States—will require all employers in the state to mandate social-distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when social distancing is not possible. Virginia’s standards also mandate appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, recordkeeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the state. Employers must also provide frequent access to handwashing or hand sanitizer and regularly clean high-contact surfaces. The emergency temporary standards, infectious disease preparedness and response plan templates, and training guidance will be soon be posted to the website of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI).

According to DOLI (PDF), the standards will take immediate effect upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation published in Richmond, Virginia. The department expects that the emergency temporary standards will be published during the week of July 27, 2020. A press release from the office of Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam explains that the standards will remain in effect for six months and can be made permanent through a process defined in state law.

Visit DOLI’s website for further details.

Related: An upcoming webinar hosted by AIHA will feature an engaging discussion with Courtney M. Malveaux of Virginia's Safety and Health Codes Board, the body responsible for reviewing and approving Virginia’s new standards. Register to attend “Exploring Virginia’s First-in-the-Nation Emergency Temporary Standard on Occupational Exposure to COVID-19” on Wednesday, July 29.