Virginia has adopted the nation’s first, comprehensive Infectious Disease Prevention standard for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. This workplace safety standard outlines new guidelines and requirements for all Virginia businesses to implement within the next 60 days. In May, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam directed the creation of enforceable regulations for businesses. On July 15th, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board voted and approved the Emergency Temporary Standard for infectious disease prevention. The full standard was published on July 27th.
Virginia’s adoption of an infectious disease prevention standard is remarkable considering it is a first-in-the-nation enforceable standard for businesses covering pandemics. It is designed to protect employees, customers, subcontractors and co-located workers by requiring businesses to assess the business’ risk, conduct job hazard assessments, develop a plan, conduct outreach activities, train affected personnel on the SARS-CoV-2 hazard and implement the plan within 60 days.
Citing federal government inaction to keep employees healthy, Governor Northam said, “Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic. 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.”
What This Means for Virginia Businesses
The new Emergency Temporary Standard affects all Virginia businesses, but to varying degrees. All businesses will be required to conduct a COVID-19 Exposure Risk Assessment, identifying exposure risk for all work areas and job tasks. Companies that rate as “Very High”, “High”, and “Medium” risk exposure to COVID-19 will be required to implement the full standard with a Pandemic Plan and training for all employees. Businesses that rate as “Low” risk exposure for COVID-19 will have minimal requirements such as providing employees with general awareness training to protect themselves.
Businesses will have 30-days to train all employees on COVID-19 Health and Safety measures and on the new Emergency Temporary Standard. Businesses will have 60-days to conduct the risk assessment and develop their own pandemic plan, policies and procedures, train all employees on the plan, and implement the plan. This aggressive timeline reflects the urgency of the need to protect workers and ensure that the economic recovery does not relapse into a shut-down.
Path to Compliance
As a Virginia-based company with over 15 years’ experience helping businesses across the globe build resilience through health and safety consulting, ASG stands ready to help Virginia businesses achieve swift compliance. To help businesses reopen and keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic, we have established the Resilient Ready™ service to guide companies through the Pandemic Planning process.
To assist businesses during this difficult time, we are providing Seven Essential Pandemic Policies for free. These seven Pandemic Policies come in a free, downloadable template for businesses to tailor to their specific operating conditions and requirements. ASG’s Seven Essential Pandemic Policies will jumpstart organizational compliance with the policy requirements outlined in the new Emergency Temporary Standard.
Contact ASG if your business needs assistance navigating and implementing the new Emergency Temporary Standard.
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