Nearly two years after enacting the first-in-the-nation permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health standard, the Commonwealth voted effective March 23 to rescind mandatory face coverings and certain reporting requirements.
Previous guidelines were:
- Assess the “exposure risk level” of hazards at each place of employment
- Report to the Virginia Department of Health if two or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within 14-days
- Exclude employees from work who are known/suspected to be infected
- Notify employees when a worker is known to be infected by COVID-19
- A “face covering” must be worn over the nose and mouth by employees
Update guidelines include:
- Facilitate employees’ getting vaccinated and boosted
- Encourage any workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work and seek testing / treatment from their physician.
- Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks, as appropriate
- Encourage good sanitary work habits such as frequent hand washing
- Educate workers on COVID-19 policies and procedures
- Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths, which is mandatory under Virginia Occupational Safety & Health Administration (VOSH) regulations
Though some guidelines have been relaxed, Virginia employers are obligated to follow Virginia Occupational Safety & Health Administration (VOSH) General Duty Clause, “to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” VOSH can continue to inspect and cite employers for COVID-19-related safety concerns.