By Tricia Dunlap Esq.
~4-5 minute read
2 Things You Need To Know About The New Coronavirus Rules in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry passed new coronavirus rules in Virginia. It’s actually 38 pages worth of rules. It is the first time in the nation that we have binding rules on employers related to COVID-19 and workplace safety. At this point, even at the federal level none of the federal agencies have issued any binding rules for which employers can be penalized if they don’t comply. Virginia is the first state that has rules that could lead to financial penalties and government enforcement actions against employers who do not comply with the rules.
You can refer to our brief for more details because these rules are really too much to go into in depth in a short blog post. This is a high-level overview of coronavirus rules in Virginia so you can begin thinking about it.
Coronavirus Risk Assessment
First of all, the rules will go into effect on July 15th, 2020. These rules apply to every employer across the Commonwealth of Virginia whether public or private regardless of how many employees you have. There are four risk classifications in the rules: very high, high, medium, and low.
The first thing you’ve got to do as an employer is perform a coronavirus risk assessment of all of the employment tasks in your business. Evaluate both the physical environment and the administrative and procedural practices that you have in place so that each of your employees (or if there’s a group of them) can be classified according to risk level.
Very High Risk
For example, a very high risk level would be an employee who is perhaps performing dental procedures or intubating either a known coronavirus victim or a suspected coronavirus victim. That would be very high risk.
Someone who falls in the high category might be a healthcare worker or a first first responder who is dealing with a wide variety of sick people, some of whom might have coronavirus but they’re not necessarily known or suspected.
Then at the medium level might be people who are working in physical settings where there’s very close proximity to one another. Some examples include people working in meat processing plants where you know there’s an assembly line and everybody is standing basically shoulder to shoulder working near one another.
The lowest risk are people who are further apart from one another. They are doing low risk tasks and there are either physical barriers or social distance between themselves and other people.
So, number one, you need to classify all of your employees your groups of employees and figure out which which risk level they fall into.
Coronavirus Risk Policies
Second, you need to develop coronavirus risk assessment policies and procedures for notifying your employees if a fellow employee has tested positive or even if they haven’t tested positive, but they’re suspected. You have the duty to notify your employees if a fellow employee has gotten sick or you suspect they’ve gotten sick. There are also mandates related to when and how you can permit employees to work if they are suspected to be sick, if they have been sick, and when and how you can let them return.
There are mandates on how employees can be tested and if they refuse to get tested, it’s extensive. Like I said, there are 38 pages of coronavirus rules in Virginia.
Contact Dunlap Law
If you need help understanding these new rules and making sure that your coronavirus risk assessment and policies comply, then please get in touch. There are really no exceptions for financial hardship especially if other businesses within your same industry are implementing more rigorous safety protocols than you are. And there are financial penalties for failure to comply, so it is really important that you understand this.
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