Virginia is nation’s first state to establish workplace safety standards for the coronavirus

Employees must be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive

Washing hands (AP)

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia is the first state in the nation to establish workplace safety coronavirus standards, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The governor announced the new standards on Wednesday.

“Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic,” said Northam in a news release. “In the face of federal inaction, Virginia has stepped up to protect workers from COVID-19, creating the nation’s first enforceable workplace safety requirements. Keeping Virginians safe at work is not only a critical part of stopping the spread of this virus, it’s key to our economic recovery and it’s the right thing to do.”

Some of the newly adopted standards include:

  • Requiring all employers to mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when social distancing is not possible
  • Providing frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces
  • Mandating that all employees be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus
  • Employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests. 

These temporary emergency standards will remain in effect for 6 months and can be made permanent through the process defined in state law.

The text of the standard is currently being finalized and will be posted on the Department of Labor and Industry’s website as soon as they’re available.

It’s not expected to be available until the week of July 27, according to DOLI.

Covered employers will be given 60 days from the effective date of the emergency temporary standard to develop and train employees on their infectious disease preparedness and response plan.

Covered employers will be given 30 days to train employees on the standard.