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February 8, 2021

Virginia First Among U.S. States To Enact Permanent COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standard

On January 27, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the first U.S. state to enact a permanent COVID-19 workplace health and safety standard. The new law:

  • Requires employers to report to the Virginia Department of Health when two or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period;
  • Requires employers to implement measures to help slow the transmission of, and protect workers from, COVID-19;
  • Requires employers assess the “exposure risk level” of hazards and job tasks at each place of employment, and classify the risk level as “very high,” “high,” “medium,” or “lower” and creates more robust requirements for high-risk job sites;
  • Ensures employees access to hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies;
  • Implements specific sanitation and disinfection procedures;
  • Directs employers to require their employees to practice social distancing and wear face coverings while at the workplace or performing work, where feasible; and

Modifies the return-to-work requirements for infected employees by telling employers they should not require a negative COVID-19 test as a condition of returning to work and should instead rely on a symptom-based standard that is consistent with current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The standard applies to all employers in the state, but does not require employers to exclude employees from the workplace who have been in close contact with an infected individual. The standard also provides no guidance with respect to employees that have received a vaccine.

Click here to read a full explanation of the standard from Littler.