The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) released a revised proposed permanent standard (included via link below) to protect employees in the workplace from COVID-19. The emergency temporary standard (ETS) on this topic that went into effect in late July expires at the end of January.
In the fall, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board received nearly 1,000 comments from stakeholders regarding the first proposed permanent standard, which mirrored the ETS. The business community was overwhelmingly opposed to the adoption of a permanent standard, due largely to the work that had already been undertaken to protect workers and the fact that the ETS' CDC safe harbor language required protection equal to or greater than the ETS, which was difficult to determine as CDC guidance often changed. Organized labor sought to make the ETS permanent.
Included in this proposed draft are several items of interest, including:
- The CDC safe harbor language that existed in the ETS has been removed, and only educational institutions would be protected by following CDC guidance (after a determination by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry and State Health Commissioner has been made).
- There is no expiration date. The standard states that within fourteen days of the expiration of the Governor's COVID-19 State of Emergency and Commissioner of Health's COVID-19 Declaration of Public Emergency, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board shall notice a meeting to determine whether there is a continued need for the standard.
- New definitions have been added for "minimal occupational contact", "severely immunocompromised", and "symptoms of COVID-19".
- More stringent requirements have been included for multiple employees occupying a vehicle for work purposes.
- A clear delineation that face shields are not a substitute for face coverings, as well as requirements for employees using face shields.
- A requirement for all employers to clean common spaces, including bathrooms and port-a-johns, at least once during each shift.
Public comments are due by January 9, and can be filed here
A public hearing has been scheduled for 9:15 am on January 5th whereby stakeholders can address the Safety and Health Codes Board virtually. More details and a draft agenda for the meeting are available  here
The Safety and Health Codes Board is also scheduled to meet at 9:15 am on January 12th to consider adoption of the proposed permanent standard. If additional time is needed, the Board has also scheduled a meeting for January 13th.