Virginia Implements Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention

Map of Virginia with COVID-19 Label
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On July 27, 2020, Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry enacted the Emergency Temporary Standard Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS_CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19. This emergency standard was approved on July 15 by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board at the request of Governor Ralph Northam for a period of six months. After six months, the board may vote to repeal or replace the temporary standard with a permanent one. This standard will codify many of the existing guidelines developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as provide additional requirements for controlling the spread of COVID-19 among workers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The standard will be enforced by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program across all industries for Virginia employers.

The standard requires all exposure classes of Virginia employers to:

  • Assess job tasks for potential exposure to COVID-19. Classify each employee or group according to their exposure and tasks. Use classifications of “very high” to “lower” risk levels.
  • Inform employees about methods of self-monitoring for signs and symptoms.
  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for reporting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Establish a system for receiving reports of positive COVID-19 tests by employees, subcontractors, contract employees and temps.
  • Develop policies and procedures to address positive, suspected and asymptomatic cases within the workplace.
  • Develop and implement a return to work policy for known or suspected positive COVID-19 cases. Bar suspected and known positive COVID-19 employees from returning to work for at least three days after symptoms subside, at least ten days after a diagnosis or until they test negative for COVID-19
  • Ensure that any area accessed by a known or suspected COVID-19 positive employee or person is disinfected before allowing entry by other employees.
  • Clean and disinfect all common spaces and frequently-touched surfaces after each shift. Clean and disinfect all shared tools, vehicles and equipment before transfer between employees. Only use disinfectants from the EPA’s list of effective cleaners for COVID-19.
  • Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible, feasible and permitted by law. Ensure compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Provide easy and frequent access to handwashing and hand sanitizer stations.
  • Notify employees and the Virginia Department of Health within 24 hours if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Notify the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (VOSH) when three or more positive tests are received within two weeks.
  • Ensure employees have access to their SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease-related exposure and medical records.
  • Ensure that employees observe physical distancing while on the job and during paid breaks on the employer’s property.
  • Close or control access to common areas, breakrooms and lunchrooms.
  • Ensure compliance with respiratory protection and personal protective equipment (PPE) standards when multiple employees are occupying the same vehicle for work purposes.
  • Ensure compliance with respiratory protection and PPE standards when the nature of an employee’s work or work area does not allow them to observe physical distancing requirements.

Additional requirements are necessary for Virginia employers with hazards or job tasks assessed as medium, high or very high exposure. All compliance requirements of this standard must be implemented by employers within 30 days of its publication (dated July 27, 2020) with the exception of requirements for the development of an Infectious Disease Response Plan and employee training on the Infectious Disease Response Plan. These two requirements for medium to very high exposure hazards and job tasks must be implemented within 60 days of publication.

The entire text of the emergency temporary standard can be reviewed here.

Questions?

For assistance in assessing the exposure classification of your workplace’s hazards or job tasks and developing necessary policies and procedures to comply with this emergency temporary standard, please contact Greg Hart, RCM&D Risk Consultant at ghart@rcmd.com.