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Virginia Adopts First-in-Nation Workplace Safety Standards to Combat COVID-19
This month, Virginia became the first state to adopt mandatory statewide emergency workplace safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board voted to approve emergency temporary standards, to apply to every workplace within Virginia, effective this month. The safety rules require distancing measures and face coverings for employees in "customer-facing positions," and for when social distancing is not possible. The rules also require frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly cleaned high-contact surfaces. Companies must notify workers of possible exposure to infected co-workers within 24 hours if a colleague tests positive for the virus. Additionally, employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days, or until they receive two consecutive negative tests.
The emergency regulation, 16 VAC 25-220, accessible via the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, references the standards ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2019, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Residential Buildings, as well as ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE Standard 170-2017, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed and published the standards, which are available to read online on ASHRAE's site at no cost.
"Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic," said Governor Northam in the announcement. "Virginia has stepped up to protect workers from COVID-19, creating the nation's first enforceable workplace safety requirements. Keeping Virginians safe at work is not only a critical part of stopping the spread of this virus, it's key to our economic recovery and it's the right thing to do."
Read more about 16 VAC 25-220, which provides information on personal protective equipment, respiratory protective equipment, sanitation, access to employee exposure and medical records, occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories, and communication of hazards.
The temporary standard will remain in effect for six months, and can be made permanent through the process defined in state law.ECIA to Provide Resources and Webinar on Data Protection and Return to Work
See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting Standardization Community Response Efforts.