VOSH Emergency Temporary Standards

Virginia became the first state to issue mandatory COVID-19 workplace safety rules that went into affect on July 27, 2020.

No matter the size of the business or the level of exposure risk hazards – very high, high, medium, or lower exposure risk – the ETS imposes several mandatory requirements for all Virginia employers that fall under §§ 16VAC25-60-20 and 16VAC25-60-30.  

This page will help you to understand what is expected of you to comply with these standards.

If you prefer, this video provides an overview of the ETS requirements by Courtney Malveaux, an attorney who represents employers in OSHA matters.

Employer Requirements for All Businesses in All Risk Categories


*Businesses with job tasks in the medium, high and very high risk categories have additional requirements
Hazard


Risk Assessment

Conduct a hazard risk assessment for hazards and job tasks that may potentially expose employees to COVID-19 and to classify each job task according to the standard’s very high, high, medium, or lower exposure risk (The risk categories are defined at the bottom of this page). For each job task you must determine if any engineering or administrative controls, safe work practices or PPE are needed to protect workers.

The Virginia Department of Labor has provided a document to help you conduct and certify your hazard risk assessment. The Hazard Assessment can be conducted for an area, a job category or for an individual by selecting and filling in the appropriate box. 

Sample Hazard Assessment

For each job employers must  classify each job task according to the standard’s very high, high, medium or lower exposure risk. The risk categories are defined at the bottom of this page.

For each job task you must determine if any engineering or administrative controls, safework practices or PPE are needed to protect workers.

Engineering controls involve isolating employees from work related hazards. In workplaces where they are appropriate, these types of controls reduce exposure to hazards without relying on worker behavior and can be the most cost-effective solution to implement.  Engineering controls for medium risk  COVID-19 may include: 
  • Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.
  • Moving electronic payment reader away from cashier
  • Using verbal announcements, signs, and visual cues to promote social distancing
  • Removing/rearranging furniture
  • Providing remote shopping alternatives
Other examples are:
  • Installing high-efficiency air filters. 
  • Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment. 
  • Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards. 
  • Installing a drive-through window for customer service. 
  • Specialized negative pressure ventilation in some settings, such as for aerosol generating procedures (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms in healthcare settings and specialized autopsy suites in mortuary settings).
Administrative controls require action by the worker or employer.  Typically, administrative controls are changes in work policy or procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard. Examples of administrative controls for COVID-19 include: 
  • Encouraging sick workers to stay at home. 
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible. 
  • Establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another while maintaining a full onsite work week. 
  • Discontinuing nonessential travel to locations with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. Regularly check CDC travel warning levels at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/
  • Developing emergency communications plans, including a forum for answering workers’ concerns and internet-based communications, if feasible. 
  • Providing workers with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE).
  • Training workers who need to use protecting clothing and equipment how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. 
  Administrative Controls for medium risk jobs
  • Consider offering face masks to ill employees and customers to contain respiratory secretions until they are able leave the workplace (i.e., for medical evaluation/care or to return home). In the event of a shortage of masks, a reusable face shield that can be decontaminated may be an acceptable method of protecting against droplet transmission. See CDC/ NIOSH guidance for optimizing respirator supplies, which discusses the use of surgical masks, at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy/index.html
  • Keep customers informed about symptoms of COVID-19 and ask sick customers to minimize contact with workers until healthy again, such as by posting signs about COVID-19 in stores where sick customers may visit (e.g., pharmacies) or including COVID-19 information in automated messages sent when prescriptions are ready for pick up. 
  • Where appropriate, limit customers’ and the public’s access to the worksite, or restrict access to only certain workplace areas. 
  • Consider strategies to minimize face-to-face contact (e.g., drivethrough windows, phone-based communication, telework). 
  • Communicate the availability of medical screening or other worker health resources (e.g., on-site nurse; telemedicine services).
  Source: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
Administrative controls require action by the worker or employer.  Typically, administrative controls are changes in work policy or procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard. Examples of administrative controls for COVID-19 include: 
  • Encouraging sick workers to stay at home. 
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible. 
  • Establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another while maintaining a full onsite work week. 
  • Discontinuing nonessential travel to locations with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. Regularly check CDC travel warning levels at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/
  • Developing emergency communications plans, including a forum for answering workers’ concerns and internet-based communications, if feasible. 
  • Providing workers with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE).
  • Training workers who need to use protecting clothing and equipment how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. 
  Administrative Controls for medium risk jobs
  • Consider offering face masks to ill employees and customers to contain respiratory secretions until they are able leave the workplace (i.e., for medical evaluation/care or to return home). In the event of a shortage of masks, a reusable face shield that can be decontaminated may be an acceptable method of protecting against droplet transmission. See CDC/ NIOSH guidance for optimizing respirator supplies, which discusses the use of surgical masks, at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy/index.html
  • Keep customers informed about symptoms of COVID-19 and ask sick customers to minimize contact with workers until healthy again, such as by posting signs about COVID-19 in stores where sick customers may visit (e.g., pharmacies) or including COVID-19 information in automated messages sent when prescriptions are ready for pick up. 
  • Where appropriate, limit customers’ and the public’s access to the worksite, or restrict access to only certain workplace areas. 
  • Consider strategies to minimize face-to-face contact (e.g., drive through windows, phone-based communication, telework). 
  • Communicate the availability of medical screening or other worker health resources (e.g., on-site nurse; telemedicine services).
Source: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Medium Risk While engineering and administrative controls are considered more effective in minimizing exposure to COVID-19, PPE may also be needed to prevent certain exposures. While correctly using PPE can help prevent some exposures, it should not take the place of other prevention strategies.  When selecting PPE, consider factors such as function, fit, decontamination ability, disposal, and cost. Sometimes, when PPE will have to be used repeatedly for a long period of time, a more expensive and durable type of PPE may be less expensive overall than disposable PPE. Each employer should select the combination of PPE that protects workers specific to their workplace.    Workers with medium exposure risk may need to wear some combination of 
  • Gloves
  • Gown
  • face mask
  • face shield or goggles. 
  PPE ensembles for workers in the medium exposure risk category will vary by work task, the results of the employer’s hazard assessment, and the types of exposures workers have on the job.   All types of PPE must be: 
  • Selected based upon the hazard to the worker. 
  • Properly fitted and periodically refitted, as applicable (e.g., respirators). 
  •  Consistently and properly worn when required. 
  • Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced, as necessary. 
  • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of, as applicable, to avoid contamination of self, others, or the environment. 
  Source: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
Hygiene


Access to soap and hand sanitizer

Enable employees to have easy, frequent access, and permission to use soap and water, and hand sanitizer where feasible, for the duration of work.

Sick Leave


Sick Leave Policy

Provide flexible sick leave policies consistent with public health guidance to the extent feasible and permitted by law, including but not limited to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

assessment


Self-Assessment

Establish and implement a system for employee self-assessment and screening for COVID-19 signs and symptoms.

Reporting Symptoms


Self-Reporting Policies

Develop and implement policies and procedures for employees to report when they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and no alternative diagnosis has been made.

Employees or other individuals known or suspected to be infected with the virus cannot report to or remain at the work site or engage in work at a customer or client location until cleared for return to work as outlined in the ETS. Workers known or suspected to have the virus may still engage in telework or other forms of work isolation.

Process for Reporting Symptoms

Any employee experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 shall immediately report symptoms to their supervisor. The supervisor will immediately direct the employee to leave work, if they are currently at work, or stay home, if they are not at work, and self-quarantine as a precaution. The supervisor and/or HR shall request and record the latest contact information for the employee so that they can reach them for follow up information.

Reporting and Response when Employee is at Work

If the employee is at work, they should be directed to immediately leave work.

The employee’s work area and nearby common areas and bathrooms should be immediately disinfected. A [company designee] will remotely contact the employee to inquire about current symptoms, verify that they have quarantined as a precaution, and direct the employee to call a health care provider and seek testing. The employee should first contact their primary health care practitioner to see if they are available and able to collect a sample for testing. 

General Procedures

[Company designee]  will also ask the employee about their potential contact and interactions with other employees of the company. People who have been in close contact with a symptomatic employee are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, if the employee tests positive. As a precaution, while the employee awaits test results, [company designee]  – in consultation with VDH – will identify the employees who may have been in close, sustained contact with the employee after they became ill. These close professional contacts will be notified by [company designee]  of their potential exposure and directed to self-quarantine. 

[Company designee]  and/or VDH will contact the employee to verify and complete contact tracing. If the test result is positive, the VDH may issue a mandatory quarantine and conduct additional tracing of the employee’s personal contacts (e.g. family).

If the test results for the employee are positive (+), [company designee]  will immediately direct the employee to maintain their quarantine for 14 days and advise the professional contacts to maintain their quarantine and, if they become symptomatic, seek testing from their health care provider. [Company designee]  will also notify the supervisor of the positive test result and send a notice to all employees who work within the nearby work location.

If the test results for the employee are negative (-), [company designee]  will promptly direct the employee to return to work after they have recovered from their illness and direct the professional contacts under quarantine to resume their daily activities and return to work.

Communicate with subcontractors and companies that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of employees or other persons known or suspected to have the virus staying home.

COVID-19 Key Contacts Template

COVID Reporting


Reporting

To the extent permitted by law, including HIPAA, establish a system to receive reports to track and communicate when employees, subcontractors, contract employees, and temporary employees test positive for COVID-19 and have been present in the workplace within the previous 14 days of the positive test. Employers must notify:

Its own employees who may have been exposed, within 24 hours of becoming aware of their possible exposure, while keeping the identity of the individual who tested positive confidential in accordance with federal and Virginia laws and regulations. Employers must make similar notifications to other employers whose employees were present at the worksite and may have been exposed during that time period as well as to the building/facility owner.

The Virginia Department of Health must be notified within 24 hours of the discovery of a positive case; and

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry must be notified within 24 hours of the discovery of three (3) or more employees present at the place of employment within a 14-day period testing positive for [COVID-19] during that 14-day time period.

Return to Work


Return to Work Policy

Symptomatic: Develop and implement policies and procedures for employees to return to work after they are known or suspected to have had COVID-19. The standard requires employers to use either a symptom-based or test-based strategy when making return to work determinations.  Employers may not use antibody testing, or serological testing, to make return to work decisions. 

Under a symptom-based strategy, an employee would not be allowed to return to work until 10 days have passed since symptom onset and 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (e.g. resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath).

Under a test-based strategy, an employee would not be allowed to return to work until resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications, improvement in respiratory symptoms, and at least two negative COVID-19 test results that comply with certain standards.

The standards state that COVID-19 testing is considered a medical examination under VA Code § 40.1-28 and thus, the employee cannot be required to pay for the cost of the test for return to work determinations.

Asymptomatic: Develop policies and procedures for asymptomatic employees to return to work either through a time-based or test-based strategy.

Under a time-based strategy, an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic would not be allowed to return to work until at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test.

Under a test-based strategy, an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic would not be allowed to return to work until they have had at least two negative COVID-19 test results that comply with certain standards.

office


Physical / Social Distancing

Ensure employees observe physical distancing while on the job and during paid breaks on the employer’s property including through announcements, signage, visual cues, and staggering or restricting access to certain areas.

Employers shall also ensure compliance with mandatory requirements of any applicable Virginia executive order or order of public health emergency

Control, reconfigure, and/or alternate access and usage to common areas, break rooms, and lunch rooms to ensure physical distancing. If the nature of the employer’s work or work area does not allow employees to consume meals in the employee’s workspace while observing physical distancing, the employer must clearly post occupancy limits, physical distancing requirements, and policies on hand washing/sanitizing and surface disinfection at the entrance to the area. 

Employers must also enforce the occupancy limit, make hand washing facilities, and hand sanitizer where feasible, available to employees, and provide regular intervals of cleaning or disinfecting or require employees to clean and disinfect the immediate area in which they were located prior to leaving.

Areas in the place of employment where known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus employees or other persons accessed or worked shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to allowing other employees access to the areas. All common spaces, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces, and doors, shall at a minimum be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each shift. All shared tools, equipment, workspaces, and vehicles shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to transfer from one employee to another. 

Employers shall ensure that cleaning and disinfecting products are readily available to employees to accomplish the required cleaning and disinfecting. In addition, employers shall ensure use of only disinfecting chemicals and products indicated in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List N for use against COVID-19

When the nature of the employee’s work or the work area does not allow employees to observe physical distancing requirements or when engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers shall provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure compliance with respiratory protection and PPE standards applicable to its industry and in accordance with VOSH laws, standards, and regulations.

Business 6


Anti-Discrimination

No person shall discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee because the employee has:

Exercised rights under the safety and health provisions of this standard Title 40.1 of the Code of Virginia, and implementing regulations under 16VAC25-60-110 for themselves or others.

Voluntarily provided and wears their own personal protective equipment, provided that the PPE does not create a greater hazard to the employee, or create a serious hazard for other employees.

Raised a reasonable concern about infection control related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease to the employer, other employees, a government agency, or to the public such as through print, online, social or any other media.

See §16VAC25-60-110 for requirements concerning discharge or discipline of an employee who has refused to complete an assigned task because of a reasonable fear of injury or death.

Safety


Training

Employers with low risk job tasks to do not have to provide employee training but they must either post provide VOSH’s low risk document to their employees.

Employers with medium, high, and very high risk workplaces must provide COVID-19 training to employees within 30 days of the effective date.

Under provision §80.F TRAINING – Employers with hazards or job tasks classified at “lower” risk shall provide oral or written information to employees exposed to such hazards or engaged in such job tasks on the hazards and characteristics of SARS-COV-2 and the symptoms of COVID-19 and measures to minimize exposure.

Low Risk Training Document

Employers with employees in the medium, high, and very high risk categories must provide COVID-19 training to employees within 30 days for the new standards which is August 26th.  

This training is designed to ensure that all employees recognize the hazards of COVID-19 as well as the procedures to minimize the hazards related to the infectious diseases and help prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

The training must cover the following:

  • Requirements of the COVID-19 Emergency Regulation.
  • Characteristics and methods of spread of COVID-19 virus. Symptoms of COVID-19 disease as well as the asymptomatic reactions of some persons to the COVID-19 virus. – Slide 11-13
  • Safe and healthy work practices, including but not limited to, physical distancing, disinfection procedures, disinfecting frequency, and noncontact methods of greeting. Slide 14 – 18
  • Personal Protective Equipment PPE
  • The antidiscrimination provision in the standard
  •  Your Companies’ Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan. An Infectious Disease Preparedness plan is required for very high, high risk employers of any size. And medium risk employers that have 11 or more employees. The Infectious Disease Preparedness Plan training is not due for 60 days.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has provided a power point template that can be customized to your company.

Medium Training Template

The video below walks you through how to customize that training to fit your company’s situation.

Additional Requirements for Medium, High & High Risk Employers

Coronavirus-Infectious-Disease-Response-Plan2


Infectious Disease & Prepardness Response Plan

The ETS additionally includes heightened requirements for workplaces with hazards or job tasks classified as “medium” exposure risk.  Such requirements include engineering controls such as appropriate maintenance and compliance of air-handling systems, and administrative and work practice controls “to the extent feasible” such as:
  • requiring a prescreening of symptoms prior to work shifts,
  • implementing telework and/or staggered shift policies,
  • and installing physical barriers to aid in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
The FAQs published on July 27, 2020 clarify that the ETS does not require these employers install air conditioning systems as the requirement “specifically applies to ‘air-handling systems where installed.’”  The ETS additionally states employers must assess the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards or job tasks are present or are likely to be present that necessitate the use of PPE.  If such hazards exist, employers must select and provide appropriate PPE to affected employees.  Employers must also verify in a written certification that the required workplace hazard assessment to identify appropriate PPE has been performed.
Further requirements are established for hazards or job tasks classified as “very high” or “high” exposure risk, including:
  • installing appropriate air-handling systems,
  • using airborne infection isolation rooms “where feasible and available”,
  • limiting the amount of time workers are in contact with patients who are known or suspected to have COVID-19,
  • offering enhanced medical monitoring of employees during COVID-19 outbreaks,
  • and providing employees with job-specific education and training on preventing transmission of COVID-19.
The ETS further states that “to the extent feasible,” employers should ensure psychological and behavioral support is available to address employee stress at no cost to the employee.

Employers with hazards or job tasks classified as “medium” risk exposure with eleven (11) or more employees, or those with hazards or jobs tasks classified as “high,” or “very high” risk exposure are required to develop and implement a written Infectious Disease and Preparedness Response Plan (the “Plan”).  

 

This requirement will come into effect sixty (60) after the effective date of the ETS, on September 25, 2020.  Covered employers must designate a person to be responsible for implementing the Plan and the Plan must provide for employee involvement in its development and implementation.  

 

The Plan must consider and address the COVID-19 risk hazards in the workplace, employees’ individual risk factors, contingency plans for situations arising from COVID-19 outbreaks, implementation of basic infection prevention measures, as well as policies for prompt identification and isolation of individuals in the workplace who are known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19.  Additionally, if the employer is complying with mandatory and non-mandatory recommendations in any CDC guidelines or Commonwealth of Virginia guidance documents in lieu of complying with an ETS provision, the Plan must identify such materials.

 

Infectious Disease and Preparedness Response Plan Template

Additional languages available on the VOSH Website

Downloads

Risk Categories

Lower exposure risk hazards or job tasks are those not otherwise classified as very high, high, or medium exposure risk that do not require contact inside six feet with persons known to be, or suspected of being, or who may be infected with COVID-19. 

Employees in this category have minimal occupational contact with other employees, other persons, or the general public, such as in an office building setting; or are able to achieve minimal occupational contact through the implementation of engineering, administrative and work practice controls.

  • Installation of floor to ceiling physical barriers constructed of impermeable material and not subject to unintentional displacement (e.g., such as clear plastic walls at convenience stores behind which only one employee is working at any one time);
  • Telecommuting;
  • staggered work shifts that allow employees to maintain physical distancing from other employees, other persons, and the general public;
  • Delivering services remotely by phone, audio, video, mail, package delivery, curbside pickup or delivery, etc., that allows employees to maintain physical distancing from other employees, other persons, and the general public; and
  • Mandatory physical distancing of employees from other employees, other persons, and the general public.

 

Medium exposure risk hazards or job tasks are those not otherwise classified as very high or high exposure risk in places of employment that require more than minimal occupational contact inside six feet with other employees, other persons, or the general public who may be infected with COVID-19, but who are not known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus.

  • Poultry, meat, and seafood processing
  • agricultural and hand labor
  • commercial transportation of passengers by air, land, and water
  • on campus educational settings in schools, colleges, and universities; daycare and afterschool settings
  • restaurants and bars
  • grocery stores
  • convenience stores
  • food banks
  • drug stores and pharmacies
  • manufacturing settings
  • indoor and outdoor construction settings
  • correctional facilities, jails, detentions centers, and juvenile detention centers;
  • work performed in customer premises, such as homes or businesses
  • retail stores
  • call centers
  • package processing settings
  • veterinary settings
  • personal care
  • personal grooming
  • Salon
  • spa settings
  • venues for sports, entertainment, movies, theaters, and other forms of mass gatherings
  • homeless shelters
  • fitness, gym, and exercise facilities
  • airports, and train and bus stations; etc.
  • Hospitals
  • other healthcare (physical and mental) delivery and support services in a non hospital setting
  • wellness services
  • physical assistance, etc.
  • skilled nursing facilities
  • outpatient medical facilities
  • clinics, drug treatment programs
  • medical outreach services
  • non-medical support services
  • mental health facilities
  • home health care,
  • nursing homes
  • assisted living facilities
  • memory care facilities
  • hospice care

 

“High” exposure risk hazards or job tasks are those in places of employment with high potential for employee exposure inside six feet with known or suspected sources of COVID-19, or with persons known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus that are not otherwise classified as very high exposure risk.

 

  1. Healthcare (physical and mental health) delivery and support services provided to a patient known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus, including field hospitals
    • Doctors
    • Nurses
    • cleaners,
    • other hospital staff who must enter patient rooms or areas)
  2.  Healthcare (physical and mental) delivery, care, and support services, wellness services, non-medical support services, physical assistance, etc., provided to a patient, resident, or other person known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus involving
      • skilled nursing services
      • outpatient medical services
      • clinical services
      • drug treatment programs
      • medical outreach services
      • mental health services
      • home health care
      • nursing home care
      • assisted living care
      • memory care support and services
      • hospice care
      • rehabilitation services
      • primary and specialty medical care
      • dental care
      • COVID-19 testing services
      • blood donation services
      • contact tracer services
      • and chiropractic services
  3. First responder services provided to a patient, resident, or other person known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus; 
  4. Medical transport services (loading, transporting, unloading, etc.) provided to patients known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus (e.g., ground or air emergency transport, staff, operators, drivers, pilots, etc.); and 
  5. Mortuary services involved in preparing (e.g., for burial or cremation) the bodies of persons who are known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus at the time of their death.

 

 

“Very High” exposure risk hazards or job tasks are those in places of employment with high potential for employee exposure to known or suspected sources of the COVID-19 virus and the COVID-19 disease including, but not limited to, during specific medical, postmortem, or laboratory procedures (refer to page 8 of the 16 VAC 25-220, Emergency Temporary Standard/Emergency Regulation for a more detailed description).

  1. Aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures and exams, or invasive specimen collection) on a patient or person known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus; 
  2. Collecting or handling specimens from a patient or person known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (e.g., manipulating cultures from patients known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus); and 
  3. Performing an autopsy that involves aerosol-generating procedures on the body of a person known or suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the time of their death.
Virginia SBDC