In July, Virginia became the first state in the nation to promulgate a mandatory rule with a set of requirements designed to protect workers from COVID-19 infections in the workplace. For example, Virginia employers must:
Assess and categorize potential exposures to COVID-19 in the workplace
Implement a written infection control and response plan
Promptly notify potentially exposed co-workers, VOSH/OSHA, and/or the Department of Health about infected workers
But Virginia’s rule really just memorializes the widespread, already enforceable guidance from federal OSHA, the CDC, state and local departments of health, and governors’ offices all across the country, so the policies and controls that must be implemented in Virginia are by and large needed everywhere.
As we have been updating you about here, on July 27th, the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSH) adopted a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). There are some important deadlines fast approaching under that new rule:
Conduct a COVID-19 Hazard Assessment to categorize the risk exposures at the workplace (due by Aug. 26th);
Deliver the first of two COVID-19 employee training events (due by Aug. 26th); and
Implement a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan (due by Sept. 25th).
But while everyone is scrambling to come into compliance with the emergency rule, we want to highlight another big development with the Virginia rule that has a fast-approaching deadline – that is, VOSH’s effort to prepare a permanent infectious disease standard.
The ETS is, of course, just a temporary standard, but by regulation, VOSH is required to commence a rulemaking to promulgate a permanent standard soon after issuing an ETS. By publication of the ETS in July, VOSH simultaneously gave notice that the Standards Board intends to adopt a permanent infectious disease standard, and the ETS serves as the proposed rule. Here is a link to the Proposed Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention. The agency intends to finalize the permanent rule within six months, with an effective date no later than January 27, 2021.
Last month, Virginia became the first state in the nation to promulgate a mandatory safety regulation designed to reduce COVID-19 infections in the workplace, when Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced the commonwealth’s adoption of an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). The COVID-19 ETS, which was drafted by Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry, requires Virginia employers to: Continue reading →
On Monday, August 3rd at 1 PM ET, join Eric J. Conn (Chair of Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice), Susan Wilcox (a CIH and CSP with Safety Resource Associates), and special guest Jennifer Rose (VOSH Cooperative Programs Director with the Virginia Dept. of Labor and Industry) for a complimentary webinar regarding “Everything You Need to Know About Virginia OSHA’s New COVID-19 Standard.”
Last week, Virginia became the first state in the nation to promulgate a mandatory safety regulation designed to reduce COVID-19 infections in the workplace, when Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced the commonwealth’s adoption of an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). The COVID-19 ETS, which was drafted by Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry, requires Virginia employers to: Continue reading →
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced the commonwealth’s adoption of an emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) on infectious disease prevention. With that, Virginia became the first state in the nation to promulgate a mandatory safety regulation designed to prevent and/or reduce COVID-19 infections in the workplace. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board voted to approve the ETS after Governor Northam directed the creation of enforceable regulations in a May Executive Order (the same EO that mandated the use of masks in public for all Virginians). Specifically, Governor Northam directed:
“The Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry shall promulgate emergency regulations and standards to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The regulations and standards … shall apply to every employer, employee, and place of employment within the jurisdiction of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program.”
Virginia state officials said they were forced to act because federal OSHA had not developed an employer safety standard to protect against infections from the Coronavirus, and thus the burden to do so has been left to the states.
The ETS, which was drafted by Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry, will go into effect after it is published in a newspaper in Richmond, VA, which is expected to occur the week of July 27th. The rule will remain in effect as an ETS for at least six months, but can be made permanent through the Virginia OSHA (VOSH) formal rulemaking process defined by state law. Although the Final Rule has not been published, the rulemaking process has been somewhat public, with early drafts of the rule discussed and debated in public meetings, and what appears to be the final rule published today.
While some requirements apply to all employers of any size and in any industry, the Rule requires employers to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential exposures to COVID-19 in the workplace, and to categorize employees’ job tasks as “very high,” “high,” “medium,” or “lower” (as defined in the Rule). The hazard assessment has to be verified by a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated, the person certifying that the evaluated was completed, the dates of the assessment, and the document as a certification.
Each category has a separate list of precautions employers are required to take Continue reading →
On June 26, 2020, Oregon OSHA announced that in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA)/Public Health and other technical advisors, as well as affected stakeholders, it had begun to develop a pair of temporary COVID-19 workplace rules — one for healthcare and closely-related industries, and another for general workplaces. The target effective date for those temporary rules is September 1, 2020, with the rules to remain in effect through at least February 2021. In parallel, Oregon will also begin work on permanent rules addressing airborne infectious disease control through the state’s normal rulemaking process.
The technical advisory group meetings and external stakeholder meetings are already taking place and are expected to be completed over the next two weeks.
Even though the emergency temporary standards will not go through the typical, more formal rulemaking process, there are still opportunities for employers to influence:
the scope of the rules;
the substantive requirements of the rules; and/or
how their workplaces will be characterized (i.e., as healthcare or general industry).
Participation in the stakeholder meetings and the submission of comments could make
a significant impact on the nature of the burdens placed on Oregon employers through the remainder of the pandemic.