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Virginia’s New COVID Workplace Regulations

Virginia’s New COVID Workplace Regulations

Virginia’s New COVID Workplace Regulations

By Tom Shumaker, Esq.

On July 27, 2020, the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health section of the Department of Labor and Industry Safety published new workplace safety rules designed to protect employees from COVID-19.  These rules are effective immediately.

Among other things, these new rules include requirements for:

  • regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces and common spaces;
  • access to hand sanitizer;
  • masks for employees who interact with customers;
  • specific social distancing requirements;
  • training; and
  • prompt notice to employees and the Va. Department of Health if an employee tests positive for the virus.

Additionally, the rules prohibit retaliation or discrimination against workers who air concerns about infection risks on the job with each other, government agencies, or on social media.

The new rules also contain a number of controversial requirements, including stiff fines and mandatory leave for employees who test positive or who are suspected to be positive for the virus.  The length of this mandatory leave is either 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests.

Perhaps most important is the requirement for training.  If all of the employees perform “lower risk” jobs (defined as limited occupational contact with other employees or the general public), the employer must post information on COVID-19 hazards and measures to minimize exposure. An acceptable workplace poster is online at:  https://www.doli.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Lower-Risk-Training.pdf

If the employer has 11 or more employees and all employees perform “medium risk” jobs (defined as more than a minimal occupational contact inside six feet with employees or the general public, such as restaurants/bars, grocery stores, retail stores, and salons), the employer must provide all employees with training on safe practices no later than September 28, 2020.  A sample training presentation is online at:  https://www.doli.virginia.gov/covid-19-outreach-education-and-training/

If there are 1 or more employees performing “high risk” jobs (defined as having a high potential for exposure from known or suspected sources of COVID-19 such as health care, outpatient medical services, drug treatment programs, outreach services, mental health services, and home health care), the employer must prepare an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan no later than September 28, 2020, as well as provide training no later than August 28, 2020.

Detailed information about these new regulations is on the Department’s website at: https://www.doli.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/RIS-filed-RTD-Final-ETS-7.24.2020.pdf

If you have questions about your rights or obligations in the workplace, attorney Tom Shumaker of the Ernest Law Group may be able to help.  Tom can be reached at 757 289-2499 or [email protected].

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