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Va. Adopts Nation’s First COVID-19 Workplace Safety Mandate

Law360: ” Virginia on Wednesday [July 14, 2020] became the first state to adopt an emergency workplace safety standard addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which Gov. Ralph Northam said is necessary to fill a gap created by federal inaction Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state’s new COVID-19 workplace safety standard comes “in the absence of federal guidelines.”  The state’s infectious disease prevention benchmark mandates that workers be provided with personal protective equipment and sets parameters for businesses to sanitize their worksites, enforce social distancing protocols and have infectious disease response plans, according to Northam’s office. If a worker tests positive for the virus, a business must inform all of its employees within 24 hours and must bar workers who are suspected to have had contact with the infected person from returning to work either for 10 days or until they test negative for the virus twice in a row. The rule will remain in place for six months, with the possibility that it is made permanent through an existing statutory process, the governor’s office said. Northam said in a statement that the new rule comes “in the absence of federal guidelines.” “Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic,” Northam said. “In the face of federal inaction, 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.”..

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