New Labor Standard Requires Employers Implement COVID-19 Safety Measures

Virginia's Employers Have Duty to Implement COVID-19 Safety Measures Under New Labor Standard

On July 15, 2020, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board adopted an Emergency Temporary Standard, “Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19” (the “Emergency Standard”).  The Emergency Standard is now enforceable, and compliance with it is mandatory for every employer in the Commonwealth.

The Emergency Standard is the first of its kind in the nation. It imposes on Virginia employers the duty to protect employees from possible SARS-CoV-2 transmission by implementing measures such as teleworking, social distancing, shift working, disinfecting, and mask wearing. The safety measures required vary based on the employer’s classification of the employee’s job tasks as “very high,” “high,” “medium,” or “lower” risk. Factors for this analysis are included in the Emergency Standard, and employers must exercise care to avoid misclassification that would result in failure to appropriately mitigate risk. A violation of the Emergency Standard could result in business closure or a civil penalty of $132,764 if the violation contributed to employee death or illness resulting in serious physical harm. Lesser penalties are determined based on employer size and the severity of the violation.

Christian & Barton attorneys are available to assist with each of the requirements under the Emergency Standard: hazard assessment by job task, analysis of mitigating measures, creation of the required Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan, and employee training. For additional information, please contact your attorney or an attorney noted below.

Attorneys and practice groups related to this topic include:

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A list of the firm's COVID-19 legal and informational resources can be found here.

This has been provided as an informational service and does not constitute legal counsel or advice, which can only be rendered in the context of specific factual situations. If a legal issue should arise, please contact an attorney listed or retain the assistance of other competent legal counsel. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken.

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