Employers should note two recent developments concerning Covid-19 in the workplace. First, Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules took effect on January 27 after Governor Northam approved the standards adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board the previous week. The standards mandate appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth. The new standards are similar to the previous Temporary Standards, with slight modifications. One notable difference is a new requirement to notify the Virginia Department of Health if 2 or more employees test positive within 14 days. The new standards are found at the link:
The second development to note is the worker safety guidance for coronavirus protection programs issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on January 29. This updated guidance is permissive rather than mandatory, and recommends that employers require greater input from employees and enhanced mask protections. The guidance recommends several essential elements in a coronavirus prevention program:
- Conduct a hazard assessment.
- Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
- Adopt policies for employee absences that do not punish workers. This can include encouraging potentially infected workers to remain home.
- Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English- and non-English-speaking workers.
- Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.
The guidance is found at the link:
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about this matter.