What Virginia’s Coronavirus Workplace Safety Mandates Mean for Businesses
By Bill Skowronnek
Aug 13, 2020
In July, Virginia adopted some of the country’s first set ofcoronavirus-relatedworkplace safetymandates. In an article in Hospitality Technology, Gary Pearce, Aclaimant's Chief Risk Architect, discusses what those mandates mean to businesses in Virginia, as well as how other states may implement similar mandates. Here's an excerpt of that article.
In a nutshell, what do the Virginia COVID-19 safety guidelines mandate that employers do for employees?
Virginia’s COVID-19 safety guidelines translate what had been a set of advisory practices into a comprehensive legal obligation that applies to nearly all workers and worksites within the state. The foundational step is a hazard assessment, the results of which will determine the depth of the additional actions that will be required. All employers will be obligated to have processes for employees to self-report symptoms, keep symptomatic employees away and manage their return, provide personal protective equipment, ensure social distancing, create response plans, and train workers on coronavirus safety protocols, among others.
Do you think other states will follow their lead and enact similar mandates?
Yes, I believe other states will follow Virginia’s lead and enact similar mandates, and the fact that there are several ways that these mandates can arise makes this outcome more likely. The traditional route is through a bill introduced in the state legislature, passed through both houses, and signed by the governor. However, a more relevant and immediate method could be through governors exercising their emergency powers. Changes in how state agencies interpret and apply existing regulations, such as the general duty clauses applicable to workplace safety, can also have a significant impact.