State laws Workplace exposures

COVID-19 pandemic: Virginia’s emergency temporary standard is in effect

Photo: Virginia Department of Labor and Industry

Richmond, VA — Less than two weeks after Virginia became the first state to approve an emergency temporary standard (16 VAC 25-220) to protect workers from COVID-19, the standard has gone into effect.

Employers in the state have 30 days – until Aug. 26 – to “provide training on the hazards and characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease to all employees.” In addition, employers have until Sept. 25 to have an infectious disease preparedness and response plan in place.


The standard, approved July 15 by a vote of the Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board and effective July 27, will be in place for six months and can be made permanent through the process defined in state law. It was developed in response to an Executive Order signed May 26 by Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Among the standard’s other notable requirements:

  • Physical distancing measures and facial coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when physical distancing isn’t possible
  • Access to handwashing stations or hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning of high-contact surfaces
  • Notification of all employees within 24 hours of a co-worker testing positive
  • Prohibiting employees known or suspected to have COVID-19 from returning to work for 10 days or until they have two consecutive negative tests

“Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic,” Northam said in a July 15 press release.

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