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States Address COVID Workplace Standards

Virginia announced last week the adoption of statewide emergency temporary workplace safety standards to help protect Virginia workers from the spread of COVID-19. Virginia is one of 22 states that operates its own federally approved safety and health agency (“OSHA-approved State Plan”). Those states can go beyond federal requirements.

The standards include requirements that are applicable to all Virginia employers including procedures for physical distancing, PPE use, cleaning and sanitizing work areas, identifying and handling COVID-19 symptomatic employees and procedures for known COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 employees to return to work among a number of others. Virginia employers with operations considered by the standards to be at very high, high, or medium, risk of exposure to COVID-19, which is determined depending upon the job tasks being undertaken and the types of hazards encountered, will also have to put in place an infectious disease preparedness and response plan within 60 days of the standards going into effect. Manufacturing operations are considered a medium risk.

The text of the standard is currently being finalized and will be posted on the Virginia Department of Labor website once it is. The Department anticipates the final emergency temporary standards to be published the week of July 27, and they will remain in effect for six months. 

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in the process of developing an emergency rule to address COVID-19 in the workplace. The state is developing an emergency rule this summer, to be replaced by a permanent rule early in 2021. Like Virginia, Oregon operates its own federally approved safety and health agency.

Oregon plans to circulate a draft of the proposed emergency rule at the beginning of August and will seek public comments through Aug. 17. A final temporary rule is expected to be issued on Sept. 1. The state will follow a similar process in developing the permanent rule starting in October. 

The Window & Door Manufacturers Association is reviewing Virginia's proposed standards and will seek clarification on several key provisions impacting manufacturing operations. It also has been in direct contact with Oregon's regulators and they will seek out collaboration and consultation with stakeholders as they draft the proposed rules. WDMA is planning to participate in upcoming stakeholder forums and will be submitting comments regarding both the temporary and permanent rules.