The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has proposed a new set of workplace safety rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under direction of Governor Northam, and because the federal OSHA agency has not implemented any such regulations, the Virginia Department has drafted regulations which the state Safety and Health Codes Board has adopted on an emergency basis. The emergency temporary standard must be given final approval by the Board after receiving public comment.
The proposed rules require employers to develop policies for employees dealing with coronavirus-like symptoms, while prohibiting those workers suspected of having the coronavirus from coming to work. The rules would also require companies to notify workers of possible exposure to infected co-workers within 24 hours, while also mandating physical distancing as well as sanitation, disinfection and hand-washing procedures. Virginia’s OSHA program (VOSH) would have enforcement jurisdiction over the regulations.
Employers would be required to classify employees according to four risk levels for exposure to coronavirus: very high, high, medium or lower. The regulation “recognize[s] that various hazards or job tasks at the same place of employment” can be designated at different risk levels. It also specifies the factors to consider in determining exposure risk levels. Employers must do a workplace hazard assessment for all employees, and with some of the categories, must make a written certification of the assessment.
The final version with any amendments is expected to be announced in mid-July. We will provide an update after the regulations are finalized.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about this matter.