July 16, 2020

By Courtney M. Malveaux from JacksonLewis 

In a split vote, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board passed a first-in-the-nation standard to address COVID-19 in workplaces.  Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), the state’s version of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), now will enforce a standard that mandates —  and in some instances exceeds — guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA.  The new standard covers most private employers in Virginia, as well as all state and local employees.

In addition to CDC and OSHA guidelines, the standard includes provisions that require employers to:

  • Provide flexible sick-leave policies, telework and staggered shifts when feasible;
  • Provide both handwashing stations and hand sanitizer when feasible;
  • Assess risk levels of employers and suppliers before entry;
  • Notify the Virginia Department of Health of positive COVID-19 tests;
  • Notify VOSH of three or more positive COVID-19 tests within a two-week period;
  • Assess hazard levels of all job tasks;
  • Provide COVID-19 training of all employees within 30 days (except for low-hazard places of employment);
  • Prepare infectious disease preparedness and response plans within 60 days;
  • Post or present agency-prepared COVID-19 information to all employees; and
  • Maintain air handling systems in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.

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