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VA Enacts First In Nation Mandatory COVID-19 Workplace Standards

Governor Northam Mandates disease preparedness / response plans, record keeping, training, and additional hazard communication processes

Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules have taken effect after Governor Northam approved a standard adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board last week.

The standards outlined mandate “appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth.”

“Now is not the time to let up on preventative measures,” said Northam.

But business owners see problems with such a law.

Virginia originally declared and began enforcing temporary requirements that the Board has now made permanent through the process defined in state law. In addition to the normal protocols of masks and hand sanitizer and regular cleaning of common work spaces, employers must now “train employees on COVID-19 safety and develop infectious disease and preparedness response plans.” The new permanent regulations include guidelines for returning to work and communicating about employees who test positive and potential exposures.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry will enforce the permanent standard.

After receiving a complaint, the Department says, “they will work with the employer to be compliant with no further investigation. If serious concerns arise in the fact finding interviews or the Department receives multiple complaints, a formal investigation will be launched.”

The Department has received over 13,000 complaints around workplace safety due to COVID-19, with over 100 needing full investigation due to “serious concerns.” 27 employers across the Commonwealth have been cited.

Business owners have complained about the tendency of some employees to over-react or misunderstand the application of a protocol and that any disgruntled employee can use the process to intentionally undermine and even close down their business by filing complaints.

The final permanent standard can be found here. Infectious disease preparedness and response plan templates and training guidance are available at

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