On July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted the new set of workplace safety rules that had been proposed 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 of Labor and Industry drafted the regulations known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The text of the standard is being finalized and will be posted on the Department’s website as soon as it is available, but it is anticipated that it will take the same form as originally proposed: emergency temporary standard . The ETS will take immediate effect upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Richmond, which the Department anticipates will occur during the week of July 27.
The 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) will have enforcement jurisdiction over the regulations.
Employers are 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.
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