Commentary

VOSH and COVID-19

Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), the state’s version of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will enforce a standard that mandates, and in some instances, exceeds guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA. The new standard covers most private employers in Virginia, as well as all state and local employees.

The standard includes provisions that require employers to:

  • Provide flexible sick leave policies, telework, and staggered shifts when feasible;
  • Provide both hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer when feasible;
  • Assess risk levels of employers and suppliers before entry;
  • Notify the Virginia Department of Health of positive COVID-19 tests;
  • Notify VOSH of three or more positive COVID-19 tests within a two-week period;
  • Assess hazard levels of all job tasks;
  • Provide COVID-19 training of all employees within 30 days (except for low-hazard places of employment);
  • Prepare infectious disease preparedness and response plans within 60 days; and
  • Post or present agency prepared COVID-19 information to all employees.

The standard protects employees who raise reasonable concerns about infection control to print, online, social, or other media. It also requires building and facility owners to report positive COVID-19 tests to employer tenants.

The standard also implements provisions that echo CDC and OSHA guidance, including requirements to:

  • Place requirements on workplaces based on hazard levels;
  • Screen employees daily prior to entry to work;
  • Establish requirements for employees with COVID-19 positive tests and symptoms before returning to work;
  • Require social distancing or, when social distancing is not possible, respiratory protection; and
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used areas and equipment.

The emergency standard will take effect at the end of July and is set to expire within six months or upon expiration of the Governor’s State of Emergency or the enactment of a permanent standard.