Virginia COVID-19 Employee Protection Standard Effective as of July 27

The standard, issued by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board, includes an action plan that employers can follow to achieve compliance.

The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted §16 VAC 25-220, requiring covered Virginia employers to assess their workplace and take steps to protect workers from COVID-19. This article summarizes the key points of the standard and offers ways for Virginia employers to meet requirements and help protect workers.


The current timeline for the emergency temporary standard (ETS) is below, as outlined in the news release:

  • The effective date of the ETS is July 27, 2020.
  • With the exception of 16VAC25-220-80.B.10 regarding training required on infectious disease preparedness and response plans, the training requirements in 16VAC25-220-80 take effect on August 26, 2020.
  • The training requirements under 16VAC25-220-80.B.10 take effect on September 25, 2020.
  • The requirements for 16VAC25-220-70 regarding the preparation of infectious disease preparedness and response plans take effect on September 25, 2020.

Suggested Action Plan

The Virginia Dept of Labor and Industry suggests a nine-step plan to achieve compliance with the ETS. The plan is just one of the resources on the extensive Virginia Department of Labor training and outreach page, which also includes an informative Frequently Asked Questions section. We’ve recommended resources for each step, which you can find at the training and outreach page.

  1. Assess your workplace for hazards and job tasks that could potentially expose employees to COVID-19. Classify each job task according to the hazards employees are potentially exposed to and ensure compliance with the applicable sections of the ETS for very high, high, medium, or lower risk levels of exposure. Recommended resources: Hazard Assessment; Infographic

  1. Establish and implement a system for employee self-assessment and screening for COVID-19 signs and symptoms (see specific requirements by risk classification). Recommended resources: Text of Regulation; PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version)

  1. Provide flexible sick leave policies, telework, staggered shifts, and other administrative/work practice controls when feasible to reduce or eliminate contact with others inside six feet. Encourage employees to report symptoms by ensuring they are aware of any company sick leave policies and alternative working arrangements, as well as the paid sick leave available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Recommended resources: Text of Regulation; PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version). 

  1. Establish and implement procedures that will prevent sick employees and other persons from infecting healthy employees, such as: implementing engineering or work practice controls that eliminate or significantly reduce employee exposure; ensuring that employees observe physical distancing while on the job and during paid breaks; requiring employees to comply with the safety and health practices outlined in the ETS related to protective gear, sanitation, disinfection, and hand-washing; and providing personal protective equipment to employees and ensuring its proper use when other controls such as engineering controls, work practice changes, and social distancing do not provide sufficient protection. Recommended resources: Text of Regulation; PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version).

  2. Establish and implement procedures to ensure employees known or suspected of having COVID-19 do not come to work, as well as procedures for them to return to work. This return to work policy must include: prohibiting employees known or suspected of having COVID-19 from reporting to work until they have been cleared to return through either a symptom-based or test-based strategy; if a test-based strategy is not used, consultation with appropriate healthcare professionals concerning when an employee’s symptoms indicate it is safe for them to return to work. Recommended resources: Text of Regulation;  PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version)

  1. Establish and implement a system for notifying employees, building owners, and other employers of workplace exposures to the virus and suspected or confirmed cases so that they can take personal actions to protect their health and safety. Recommended resources: Text of Regulation;  PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version)

  1. Ensure that you follow the anti-discrimination provisions in the new ETS. This includes refraining from discharging or in any way discriminating against an employee because they have raised a reasonable concern about infection control regarding the disease in the workplace with you, other employees, a government agency, or to the public through any form of media. Recommended resources: Text of Regulation;  PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version)

  1. If you are an employer with 11 or more employees and jobs classified as medium risk; or an employer with any number of employees and jobs classified as high or very high risk, you must prepare an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan and train employees on the practices within 60 days of the effective date of the ETS. Recommended resource: Infectious Disease Plan Template.

Employers with medium, high, and very high-risk workplaces must provide COVID-19 training to employees within 30 days of the effective date. Lower risk places of employment must provide employees with basic written or oral information on COVID-19 hazards and measures to minimize exposure. Recommended resources: PowerPoint Presentation (Full Version); PowerPoint Presentation (Abbreviated Version); Lower Risk Training; Construction Industry Toolbox Talk.

For Additional Information


The information presented here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nothing here is intended to imply a grant of coverage.  Each claim will be evaluated on its own merits and circumstances.  Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2020 Nationwide


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