Virginia COVID19 Work Place Safety Rules Now in Effect.
By Byrne Legal Group | Issue 10
Interpreting The Virginia Department Of Labor And Industry Emergency Temporary Standard ForCovid-19
§16VAC25-220 ET SEQ.
The Commonwealth of Virginia is the first state to adopt COVID-19 Safety Rules applicable to Employers and Employees that must be implemented in order to remain complaint with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry Standards. The Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19 went into effect on July 27, 2020 and will remain in effect for six (6) months or until the Governor’s State of Emergency has been lifted. Below is some guidance on the new requirements with which businesses and practices must comply while the Emergency Standard is in effect.
II. KEY DEFINITIONS
- A. “Known to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus” – patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, or, employer knew or should have known the patient tested positive.
- B. “Suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus –patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19 with no positive test and no alternative diagnosis.
- 1. Symptoms include – fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.
- i. Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure.
- C. Category of Risk Exposure
- 1. Very High Risk – High potential for employee exposure to known or suspected to be infected people.
- 2. High Risk – High potential for employee exposure inside of 6 feet of people known or suspected to be infected
- 3. Medium Risk – Job tasks require more than minimal contact inside of 6 feet of a known or suspected infected person.
- 4. Low Risk – Minimal occupational contact with other employees or general public.
III. MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS REGARDLESS OF EXPOSURE RISK
- A. Assess workplace for hazards that could expose employees to COVID-19
- B. Encourage self-monitoring of symptoms.
- C. Develop policies for employees to report known or suspected infection.
- D. Prohibit known or suspected infected employees from reporting to work.
- E. Ensure flexible sick leave policies consistent with public guidance.
- F. Discuss policies with contractors, temporary employees, or others that interact with your practice.
- G. Establish system to notify employees of positive COVID-19 testes within 24 hours of discovery
- 1. Must remain HIPAA complaint.
- 2. Must inform the Virginia Department of Health within 24 hours.
- 3. Must inform the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry within 24 hours of the discovery of 3 or more employees testing positive within a 14-day period.
- H. Physical distancing is required.
- I. Access to common areas must be closed or controlled.
- J. Respiratory protection and PPE standards apply when physical distancing not possible.
- K. Sanitation and Disinfecting stations must be placed.
IV. MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS REGARDING RETURNING TO WORK
- A. Must develop policies for the return to work of known or suspected infected employees.
- 1. Symptom-Based – 3 days passed since recovery of symptoms.
- 2. Test-Based – Resolution of symptoms and negative COVID-19 test.
- B. Must develop policies for known infected but asymptomatic employees to return to work
- 1. Time-Based – 10 days have passed since first positive test, without new symptoms.
- 2. Test-Based – 2 consecutive negative tests over a > 24-hour period.
V. MANDATORY REQUIREMENT FOR VERY HIGH OR HIGH EXPOSURE RISK
- A. Must use air handling systems
- B. Must install physical barriers.
- C. Hospitalized known or suspected infected patients must be placed in an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR).
- D. Must use AIIR rooms when performing procedures on known or suspected patients.
- E. Comply with US Dept. of Health and Human Services regulations when handling specimens of known or suspected infected patients. See Regulations.
- F. Prescreening or surveying of employees before shifts.
- G. Limit non-employee access or restrict access to certain areas.
- H. Post signage requesting patients to immediately report symptoms of respiratory illness and to use face coverings.
- I. Offer enhanced medical monitoring of employees.
- J. Provide employees with education and training on prevention.
- K. Provide hand sanitizer at fixed work sites.
- L. Provide face coverings for known or suspected infected patients.
- M. Employees shall be provided with and wear gloves, gown, face shield/goggles, and respirator when in contact with known or suspected infected patients.
VI. MANDATORY REQUIREMENT FOR VERY MEDIUM EXPOSURE RISK
- A. If air-handling systems are used, ensure they are appropriate and adequate.
- B. To the extent feasible, implement…
- 1. Prescreening and surveying;
- 2. Provide face covering for suspected infected;
- 3. Implement flexible worksites/work hours;
- 4. Increase physical distancing between employees and others;
- 5. Install physical barriers;
- 6. Require employers to provide and employees to wear face coverings when not physical distancing.
- C. Requirements for PPE ensembles in “medium” risk categories varies based on work task and exposures.
VII. INFECTIOUS DISEASE PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE PLAN
- A. “Very high”, “high” and “medium” (more than 11 employees) exposure risk facilities are REQUIRED to develop this plan.
- B. Guidance on plan development…
- 1. Identify an administrator.
- 2. Provide for employee involvement in development and implementation.
- 3. Consider levels of exposure risk throughout facility.
- 4. Consider contingency plans in response to outbreak.
- 5. Identify basic prevention measures to implement.
- 6. Provide for prompt identification and isolation of known or suspected infected people.
- 7. Address infectious disease procedures with outside businesses such as contractors, etc.
- C. Document the plan and maintain it in a readily accessible folder.
VIII. TRAINING REQUIREMENTS FOR THE STANDARD
- A. “Very high”, “high” and “medium” exposure risk must train their employees on hazards and characteristics of COVID-19.
- 1. Training must include...
- i. Mandatory requirements outlined above;
- ii. Any CDC guidelines the employer follows;
- iii. Methods of COVID-19 transmission;
- iv. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19;
- v. Risk factors of severe COVID-19 illness with underlying conditions;
- vi. Awareness of pre/asymptomatic transmission;
- viii. Safe and healthy work practices;
- viii. Use of PPE;
- ix. Anti-discrimination provisions of the Standard (see below); and
- x. The Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan.
- B. “Very high”, “high” and “medium” exposure risk must verify compliance with training by preparing a written certification.
- 1. Written Certification of Training must include…
- i. Employee identity;
- ii. Employee signature;
- iii. Date of training;
- iv. Name of trainer;
- v. Name of person who prepared training.
- 2. Must maintain these written certifications for inspection.
- 3. Retraining required when standards change or employee proves not to be compliant.
IX. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CLAUSE
- A. Employees may not be discriminated against for exercising their rights under safety and health provisions in the Virginia Code and in implementing regulations under The Standard.
- B. Employees cannot be discriminated against for wearing their own PPE.
- C. Employees may not be discriminated against for raising reasonable concern about infection control of the employer.
X. TIMING OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STANDARD
- A. The Standard is NOW in effect as of JULY 27, 2020.
- 1. TRAININGS MUST BE COMPLETED WITHIN 30 DAYS: AUGUST 27, 2020
- 2. IMPLEMENTATION AND TRAINING ON INFECTIOUS DISEASE PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE PLANS WITHIN 60 DAYS: SEPTEMBER 27, 2020.
- B. The Standard will expire within six (6) months of its effective date, upon expiration of the Governor's State of Emergency, or when superseded by a permanent standard, whichever comes first.
XI. HELPFUL RESOURCES
QUESTIONS? Contact Anthony S. Cottone, Esquire firstname.lastname@example.org (804)-806-4800