Virginia Poised to Withdraw Its Workplace COVID-19 Standard, But Employers Must Remain Vigilant

On July 27, 2020, Virginia was the first state to adopt a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (the “ETS”), which required Virginia employers to take certain actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infections in the workplace. On January 26, 2021, the VOSH ETS lapsed after its duration of six months. VOSH replaced the ETS with a permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention (the “Permanent Standard”) that took effect on January 27, 2021. In response to CDC guidance issued on July 27, 2021, on August 26, 2021, VOSH adopted amendments to the Permanent Standard. The amended Permanent Standard is currently in effect.

On January 15, 2022, Governor Youngkin issued Executive Order No. 6, whereby the Governor directed the Safety and Health Codes Board to convene an emergency meeting to discuss if there is an ongoing need for the Permanent Standard. As directed by Executive Order No. 6, the Safety and Health Codes Board met on February 16, 2022. The Safety and Health Codes Board voted 7-3 to follow VOSH’s recommendation that the Permanent Standard should be withdrawn because COVID-19 no longer poses a “grave danger” to Virginia workers. This recommendation begins a 30-day public comment period, which will be followed by a public hearing and vote by the Safety and Health Codes Board.

This is welcome news. Inflexible mandates have been a challenge for many Virginia employers.  At the present time we remain in a pandemic, however.  Thus, employers need to continue to make health and safety a priority in the workplace.  As you manage your employees, please contact us if you need any further guidance or advice.

Written by Gentry Locke Construction attorney Spencer Wiegard and Employment attorney Todd Leeson

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