As we previously reported, Virginia issued a temporary standard for workplace safety due to COVID-19. That standard became permanent as of January 27, 2021 and can be found here. The regulation applies to every employer, employee, and place of employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia within the jurisdiction of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Some of the noteworthy changes that are now permanent for the construction industry in Virginia include:
- No enforcement actions against employers that are making good-faith efforts to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in short supply.
- Companies are required to report “outbreaks” of two or more COVID-19 cases to the Virginia Department of Health, rather than having to report every case.
- Employees having tested positive or shown symptoms may now return to work after all three requirements are met: (1) fever-free (temperature below 100° F) for at least 24-hours without fever-reducing medication; (2) improvement in respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and cough; (3) and after at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first started.
- Face coverings are defined as having two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric, and preclude coverings with exhaust valves. Face shields are only allowed for individuals with health issues preventing the use of a face covering.
- All common spaces, including bathrooms, port-a-johns, privies, and other often touched surfaces and doors must be cleaned and disinfected at least once during, or at the end, of a shift. If there are multiple shifts, the worksite’s common spaces must be cleaned no less than once every 12 hours.
- If employees must share work vehicles because of no available alternative, the employer must provide employees with respiratory protection, such as an N95 filtering face piece respirator.
Some of the changes will not take effect until March 26, 2021, but employers working on projects in Virginia should take note of the permanence of the standard now, to ensure the timely implementation of the standard.