In July of 2020, Virginia’s Safety and Health Codes Board adopted a statewide COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard that required employers to take certain measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masking under certain circumstances.
And on March 21, 2022, Virginia’s Safety and Health Codes Board revoked its COVID-19 standard. This revocation became effective last week, when notice of the revocation was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In place of the statewide standard, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry published COVID-19 guidance for employers. This guidance will undergo a 30-day comment period, starting on March 28, 2022 and ending April 27, 2022. Even if the guidance later changes as a result of the public comment period, employers can rely upon the draft guidance document in the interim. While the guidance is not mandatory, employers may find it useful as they adapt their policies to the changing COVID-19 landscape.
The new guidance encourages employers to:
- Facilitate employees getting vaccinated and boosted;
- Encourage any workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work and seek advice on testing and treatment from their physician;
- Require all workers infected with COVID-19 virus to stay home;
- Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks, as appropriate;
- Encourage good sanitary work habits such as frequent hand washing;
- Educate workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in languages they understand;
- Operate and maintain ventilation systems in accordance to manufacturers specifications to achieve optimal performance;
- Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths; and
- Follow other applicable mandatory VOSH standards.
While COVID-19 cases may be decreasing, it is important that employers remain vigilant and continue to provide a safe workplace.
Kristen M. Chatterton