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July 30, 2020

Virginia first state to enact workplace safety rules after COVID-19

On July 27, 2020,  Virginia became the first state in the U.S. to introduce workplace safety rules related to COVID-19.

“These first-in-the-nation safety rules will protect Virginia workers by mandating appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness, and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth,” Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a statement from his office. “The actions come in the absence of federal guidelines.”

The regulation, 16VAC25-220, is an emergency temporary standard to control the spread of COVID-19 that the Virginia Department of Labor and Industries (DOLI) Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program passed.

The new standards require:

  • Social distancing
  • Face coverings for customer-facing roles
  • Access to handwashing stations or hand sanitizer
  • Frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces
  • Employers to notify workers within 24 hours if an employee tests positive for the virus
  • Employees must not work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative viral tests

The standards also protect workers from employer retaliation or discrimination against employees who voice concerns about COVID safety on the job with each other, government agencies, to the news, or on social media.

Compliance for the law begins immediately, with exceptions for training to be conducted by mandatory deadlines in August and September. The regulation will last six months, though it could be extended or made permanent through existing processes. Companies in violation of these standards face penalties of up to $130,000.

States have been mulling their own standards because of a lack of federal guidelines for workplace safety. While Virginia was the first state to pass these new regulations, Oregon and others are also drafting similar workplace safety codes.

While many organizations have taken steps to increase workplace safety—use of PPE, social distancing, and sanitizing more frequently and thoroughly—these new regulations were especially needed in specific industries. Seasonal agriculture workers and poultry or meat packers are both in high-risk industries. Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley poultry community has had more than 350 workers test positive for COVID-19.

As organizations come to terms with new compliance standards, their trusted computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) software can be leveraged for cleaning and sanitization efforts.

On top of managing inventory and vendors for PPE, cleaning supplies, or disinfectants, your CMMS can also:

  • Assign, track, and document work as it is started, in progress, and completed
  • Upload the details of the state, local, or other requirements
  • Handle scheduling and staffing to ensure all guidelines are followed
  • Send necessary alerts to team members, no matter where they are
  • Produce and share detailed compliance reports—including all supporting documentation—at the touch of a button

The full regulations put into law in Virginia, including training guidance, are available at doli.virginia.gov.

Related articles:

https://www.accelix.com/community/predictive-maintenance/how-to-break-habits-and-implement-pandemic-related-changes-at-the-plant/

https://www.accelix.com/community/predictive-maintenance/the-new-post-pandemic-world-of-maintenance-and-reliability/

https://www.accelix.com/community/predictive-maintenance/social-distancing-at-work-what-it-means-and-ways-to-do-it-safely/