Virginia will adopt workplace safety standards to prevent COVID-19 spread that will be in place until Governor Ralph Northam's state of emergency declaration is lifted.
Virginia workplace safety standards are identical to the temporary rules
Last week, Virginia's Safety and Health Codes Board voted 904 in maintaining a list of emergency workplace safety rules. These rules were adopted as temporary, mandatory COVID-19 prevention measures. In July, the state initially approved the regulations and became the first state to do so in the United States.
The board's vote would make the rules permanent, but after Governor Northam declared an end to the state of emergency, the requirements could be lifted, as per Richmond. The permanent COVID-19 rules roughly inclined with the temporary ones adopted with some changes last year.
The new Virginia regulations split workplaces into "low," "medium," "high," and "high-risk" depending on the exposure from the coronavirus. Businesses must require workers in regular contact with the public to provide hand sanitizer, clean common areas in workplaces regularly, and wear masks.
Businesses must provide COVID-19 prevention training for workers
Except for low-risk, all businesses must provide COVID-19 prevention training to their workers and inform their employees if a colleague tests positive for COVID-19. Northam administration reviewed the rules this week and will publish them before they go into effect.
Worker advocacy and union organizations back the regulations. However, a coalition of more than 30 business organizations, such as the Virginia Retail Federation, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, the Virginia Manufacturers Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business, opposed the regulations that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, organizations backing the rules claim they helped protect workers and lift consumer confidence that establishments are safe to visit. Doris Crouse-Mays, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, a labor group, said that companies would not thrive without the consumers and workers during a public hearing on the permanent rules on January 5. There is an increase in consumer confidence as customers will not just feel safe but know the safeness as they often go to their favorite business, Coris added.
Permanent workplace rules include a timetable when employees could go back to work
According to NBC12, the Virginia permanent rules are mostly identical to the temporary regulations, which took effect in July and were revised, reflecting changes to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance. The rules would then go to Governor Northam if approved.
The regulations mandate to wear face coverings for workers in customer-facing positions or if social distancing is not applicable, easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer, daily sanitization of common areas, and notifications employees without 24 hours if they are exposed with a COVID-19 positive co-worker. Besides, they set a timetable when suspected or suspected to be infected the coronavirus employees can return to work.