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June 29, 2020

Virginia Enacts U.S.’s First COVID-19 Workplace Safety Mandates

In what will be the first enforceable rules of their kind in the United States, Virginia will impose strict new COVID-19 workplace safety mandates. The commonwealth’s health and safety board voted 9-3 last week to create the safety rules that the board will continue to work on and finalize in coming weeks. Two members of the 14-percent board reportedly abstained from the vote.

According to The Washington Post, the rules would require “that employers develop policies for workers dealing with coronavirus-like symptoms, while prohibiting those workers suspected of having the coronavirus from showing up to work.” They also would “force companies to notify workers of possible exposure to infected co-workers within 24 hours, while also mandating physical distancing as well as sanitation, disinfection and hand-washing procedures.”

Failure to abide by the law carries penalties up to $124,000 and threat of business closure.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the rules are needed because of “the lack of enforcement from the federal agency tasked with upholding workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”