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Virginia’s Safety and Health Codes Board Adopts OSHA'S Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Healthcare and Healthcare Support Service Workers from Covid-19

Effective August 2, 2021, Virginia’s Health and Safety Codes Board adopted OSHA’s, June 21, 2021, Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19.
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The Federal Register Notice for the ETS can be read here. And, here’s a link to the Health and Safety Codes Board’s final rule adopting it.

Under the ETS, covered healthcare employers must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control workplace COVID-19 hazards. Also, they must implement other requirements to reduce workplace COVID-19 transmission related to:

  • patient screening and management;
  • standard and transmission-based precautions;
  • personal protective equipment, including facemasks or respirators;
  • controls for aerosol-generating procedures;
  • physical distancing of at least six feet, when feasible;
  • physical barriers;
  • cleaning and disinfection;
  • ventilation;
  • health screening and medical management;
  • training;
  • anti-retaliation;
  • recordkeeping; and
  • reporting.

The ETS requires employers to provide reasonable time and paid leave for employee vaccinations and any vaccination side effects. Also, it encourages the use of respirators instead of face masks by including a mini respiratory protection program that applies to such use.

Exempt from coverage are certain workplaces in which all employees are fully vaccinated and individuals who may have COVID-19 may not enter. Also, the ETS exempts from some requirements fully vaccinated employees in well-defined areas in which there is no reasonable expectation that individuals with COVID-19 will be present.

The Safety and Health Codes Board will receive, consider, and respond to petitions by any interested person who may wish for the Board to reconsider or revise its decision to adopt the ETS.

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