Virginia Passes Emergency Workplace Safety Standards in Response to Coronavirus

UPDATE - July 27, 2020: The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has published 16VAC25-220, Emergency Temporary Standard Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19.

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 17, 2020

Virginia businesses will soon face a host of new workplace safety requirements meant to help protect workers and curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

On July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted a new emergency temporary standard for infectious disease prevention that will require employers to, among other things:

  • Prepare infectious disease preparedness and response plans (within 60 days of the standard's effective date);
  • Train employees on the standard (within 30 days of the standard's effective date);
  • Mandate social-distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions;
  • Provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces when social distancing is not possible; and
  • Notify all employees within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus.

The text of the standard is currently being finalized and will be posted on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's website once available. A draft version can be found here.

The state agency plans to formally publish the rule during the week of July 27, on which date it will take effect immediately.

"Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic," Gov. Ralph Northam said. "In the face of federal inaction, Virginia has stepped up to protect workers from COVID-19, creating the nation's first enforceable workplace safety requirements. Keeping Virginians safe at work is not only a critical part of stopping the spread of this virus, it's key to our economic recovery and it's the right thing to do."