Almost half of the states in the US have chosen to make employee safety and the creation and enforcement of safety rules a state matter. These are called state-plan states and they have a state version of OSHA instead of having Federal OSHA regulate the workplace.
In mid-2020, Virginia, a state-plan state, took the unprecedented leap to create the nation’s first Emergency Temporary Standard for Covid-19. It set the bar for other states like California and Oregon to follow. Temporary standards are meant to be just that…temporary. They normally have an expiration on them. Virginia went on to make a few changes to the temporary rule and then made the rule permanent in early 2021. They JUST REPEALED THAT PERMANENT RULE.
Virginia’s OSH Board has opted to go with guidelines in the place of a standard. The guidelines are as follows: Download them Here
- Facilitate employees getting vaccinated and boosted;
- Encourage any workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work and seekadvice 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 formatsand 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 which are mandatory under VOSH regulations part 1904; and,
- Follow other applicable mandatory VOSH standards.
Although the standard has been repealed (As of March 23) employers should still provide a safe workplace under the general duty clause. If you are a Virginia employer, and you have cases you can’t ignore it. Minimizing the spread is the goal.
Overall this is GREAT news.